Andy MacPhail and the Orioles are trying their darnedest this offseason. Their infield already had a new look, with Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, and Derrek Lee joining the venerable Brian Roberts, and the bullpen received some fresh splotches of paint with the additions of Kevin Gregg and Jeremy Accardo. The O’s also took a step to shore up their rotation last night by inking oft-injured starter Justin Duchscherer to a one-year deal.

A rotation stacked with youth, like that of the Orioles, often finds itself employing an outcast veteran for doing team friendly activities, such as mentoring the youngsters and eating innings. Duchscherer may fill the Kevin Millwood slot in the rotation and organizational philosophy, but the two differ in reliability. Millwood is a virtual lock to make 25 starts a season (at least since 2002), while the Duke made 22 starts in 2008, started three minor-league games during the 2009 season, and made five starts in April 2010—and none since—thanks to maladies including hip surgery, lower back inflammation, and clinical depression.

Signing Duchscherer is an upside play for the O’s, as the variety of performance incentives in his contract should indicate. A base salary of $700K is nothing much, but he will earn $1.1 million by making the team out of spring training and that salary will quadruple should he make 30 starts. The downside here is between $700K and $1.1 million. The upside, though, could be worth much more.

A 28-inning sample for pitchers is unreliable at best, and the same goes for Duke’s 2010. Because of which his 2010 numbers are rather meaningless in attempting to identify his true and current talent level. Still, his 4.77 SIERA would have ranked as the third-best mark amongst Orioles’ starters, behind Brian Matusz, Jeremy Guthrie, and Millwood. Even at his finest in 2008 Duchscherer managed a 4.15 SIERA with a 2.54 ERA, of which his propensity for lower than league average batting average on balls in play and timely double plays certainly played a role in submerging; pitching in one of nature’s finest BABIP deterrents, the Coliseum, also played a role.

Duchscherer’s career 3.01 ERA as a starter is going to get airtime, but a move away from the friendly cavernous confines of Oakland into a hitter’s park and perhaps the toughest division in baseball is going to test him in previously unimaginable ways. Can a right-handed starting pitcher who relies on a mid-80s fastball, a low-80s cutter, a sub-70s curve, and whatever else cannot fit down the garbage disposal work against the Red Sox and Yankees? The Orioles sure hope to find out, and if he is better than league average then consider it Icing on the proverbial cupcake.

As an aside, I am proud to announce Baseball Prospectus as my new home base and hope that we will see a lot of each other during the season.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
Welcome aboard, Mr. Turing Machine.
I'll third that.
Well, some non-staffer should welcome him. Welcome!
Weclome to BP! Another great addition.
New additions to the BP staff help ramp up my excitement for the new season!
I'll add in the "non-staffer" welcome, too. Great addition.

Baseball Prospectus uses cookies on this website. They help us to understand how you use our website, which allows us to provide an improved browsing experience. Cookies are stored locally on your computer or mobile device and not by BP. To accept cookies continue browsing as normal. You will see this message only once. Privacy Policy

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. See the BP Cookie Policy for more information. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.