Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 8/28/12

While the Orioles bullpen has continued to keep them in the playoff race, the Orioles rotation has been a bit of a patchwork job all year long, and so today, they’ve reportedly signed a new patch named Randy Wolf.

While you can perhaps make a case for a change-of-scenery helping give players a fresh start, it’s hard to imagine Wolf is going to be anything besides a bad pitcher in the AL East, however. Here are Wolf’s numbers relative to league average from each of the last three seasons.

2010: 105 ERA-/122 FIP-/118 xFIP-
2011: 98 ERA-/113 FIP-/116 xFIP-
2012: 145 ERA-/122 FIP-/113 xFIP-

As is often the case, Wolf’s results have jummped around a bit despite his overall profile not changing much, as his walk rate, strikeout rate, and groundball rate are all pretty close to his career norms this year. However, after a couple of years of outperforming his peripherals due to hits on balls in play and runner stranding, he’s now gone the other way this year, getting victimized by those two variables.

For his career, Wolf has been slightly above average in both hit prevention and runner stranding, so there’s more reason to believe that he has (or had) some ability to outperform his FIP. However, that ability simply moved him from being meh to being okay, and at age 35, he seems to be closer to the meh end of the spectrum. His decline in strikeout rate tells a lot of the story.


Source: FanGraphsRandy Wolf

The Orioles aren’t exactly flush with pitching depth, and since the Brewers released him, the Orioles are only responsible for the pro-rated league minimum for the remainder of the year. Giving Wolf a roster spot in September in the hopes that he finds some of his previous ball in play voodoo isn’t a terrible gamble for roughly $80,000, but Wolf’s performance trends and the move to the AL East suggest this probably isn’t going to work very well.

It’s basically the cheapest possible solution on the market, but in this case, the Orioles probably will get what they paid for.


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