With Opening Day less than three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2018 Orioles every day as they try to bounce back from a disappointing last-place finish a year ago.
SP Andrew Cashner
Opening Day age: 31
Contract status: Under contract through the 2019 season
2017 stats (with Texas): 11-11, 3.40 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 4.6 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 15 HR, 166 2/3 innings
Why to be impressed: In addition to having the 15th-best ERA in the majors among qualified pitchers last year, Cashner’s 48.6 percent ground-ball rate ranked 15th in the majors and should translate favorably to pitching at homer-friendly Camden Yards. His velocity did improve as 2017 progressed, which leaves some optimism despite real concerns about a career-worst 86.4 percent contact rate.
Why to be concerned: His strikeout rate was next to last among qualified starters and his opposing batting average on balls in play was a career-best .267, factors explaining why many are predicting substantial regression for Cashner this season. Durability has also been a problem for the veteran right-hander in the past as he’s eclipsed 160 innings just three times in his major league career.
2018 outlook: It’s difficult looking at the Cashner signing without thinking of Yovani Gallardo with the plummeting strikeout rate and fortunate BABIP, but he’s maintained his fastball velocity, making you hope he can miss more bats like he did with a solid 7.6 per nine strikeout rate in 2016. He’s as strong of a regression candidate as you’ll find, but Cashner should be able to eat innings at the very least.
Not-so-scientific projections for 2018: 10-12, 4.97 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 5.7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 23 HR, 154 2/3 innings