It’s hard to say who the top pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles is at the moment. A different pitcher sits atop almost every statistical category: Ubaldo Jimenez leads the team with 88 strikeouts, Chris Tillman tops the pitching staff with a 3.92 ERA, and Wei-Yin Chen is out in front with 10 Wins.
Many would argue the Orioles’ ace is Chris Tillman, sporting the best starting ERA. However, Chris Tillman sits at 7-5, with a 1.36 WHIP. All of those numbers suggest a rather pedestrian season, one representative of the third or fourth best starting pitcher on a team’s pitching staff, rather than an ace.
Entering Friday, the Orioles as a team recorded 43 quality starts. The only team in all of baseball with fewer quality starts is Texas, who currently holds the worst record in all of baseball. The Orioles are a team cluttered with average to below average starting pitchers, with a clear need for an ace pitcher.
Meanwhile, over in Chicago, it remains to be seen if the White Sox would be willing to part ways with their ace pitcher, Chris Sale. Chicago entered Friday’s games with a 48-54 record and 10 games back of the division-leading Detroit Tigers.
It is no question Sale would become the immediate ace of the Baltimore pitching staff. The southpaw sports an incredible 9-1 record, 2.03 ERA, and 110 strikeouts despite missing a month in May to injury. Sale has delivered an impressive seven straight quality starts dating back to early June, including allowing just one earned run in each of his last three starts. Baltimore would have to produce quite the trade package to entice Chicago.
Chris Sale is an appealing player for a myriad of reasons, and not just his stellar play on the field. He is only 25 years old and signed a five year, $32.5 million contract last spring that would keep him under contract through 2017, with a team option for 2018 and 2019.
Sale’s contract is very team friendly as well. For his talent, paying him just $6.5 million per year is an absolute steal, allowing the Orioles to have a better shot at retaining cornerstone players like Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, and J.J. Hardy.
Orioles: Hunter Harvey, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chance Sisco
White Sox: Chris SaleEmbed from Getty Images
Luring away a top up-and-coming pitcher like Chris Sale would not be cheap. Hunter Harvey and Eduardo Rodriguez are easily two of the top pitching prospects in Baltimore, right up there with Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. Hunter Harvey was the team’s first round pick a year ago, and the organization has extremely high hopes for the young pitcher.
The trade doesn’t get any easier to swallow with the losses of Eduardo Rodriguez and Chance Sisco, either. Rodriguez has routinely been listed as one of the top Orioles prospects over the last couple years; he has shown signs that he is capable of developing into a very good starting pitcher at the Major League level. Despite struggling at times this year pitching for Double-A Bowie and missing a month due to a knee injury, at just 21 years old, Eduardo Rodriguez has an extremely bright future.
Lastly, Chance Sisco is a 19-year-old catching prospect currently hitting .342 with a .405 on-base percentage for the Delmarva Shorebirds. These are all terrific prospects, and even they might not be enough to entice Chicago. But the addition of Sale turns this team from a division leader to a World Series contender. The time to win is now.
Imagine a 2015 pitching rotation of Sale, Gausman, Bundy, Tillman, and Norris/Jimenez/Chen… That’ll play.