Former Rangers pitcher Andrew Cashner and Orioles manager Buck Showalter talk about Cashner becoming an Orioles starting pitcher. (Lloyd fox, Baltimore Sun video)
In Andrew Cashner, the Orioles acquired one of just seven American League pitchers to post at least a 4.5 wins above replacement (WAR), 160 innings and a 3.50 ERA or better last season.
There’s no question Cashner had the best season of his career last year with the Texas Rangers, and it shouldn’t be lost that it came in the AL.
We know the Orioles have long been interested in Cashner. He’s often been connected to the Orioles during the trade deadline and even last offseason, when he was a free agent. But because Cashner spent most of his career pitching in the National League, there’s a lot to be learned about him.
Some of his numbers don’t necessarily tell his story, especially a career record that’s 22 games below .500 (42-64). For the most part, he’s pitched for some pretty bad teams in San Diego.
So as a quick tutorial, let’s learn more about the newest Orioles starting pitcher by running off some useful numbers.
Innings that Cashner has averaged a season since he became a full-time major league starting pitcher in 2013. That’s not the record of durability the Orioles were seeking when they signed Ubaldo Jiménez and Yovani Gallardo, but, of course, their performances didn’t match their reputations as innings-eaters.
Career starts Cashner has at Camden Yards, and both were quality starts. He allowed two runs — one earned — over 7 1/3 innings in 2013 and three runs over 6 2/3 innings last season.
Cashner’s FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, which gauges a pitcher’s run prevention independent of his defense’s ability to convert batted balls into outs, from 2013 through 2017. The number measures the effectiveness of a pitcher in limiting home runs, walks and hit batters while causing strikeouts. The number correlates well with Cashner’s 3.73 ERA over that same span.
How frequently Cashner threw his slider in 2017 compared with his other pitches, the lowest rate of his career. Last year, Cashner — who mostly relied on his fastball and slider — began using his curveball and changeup more often. He threw his changeup 14.2 percent of the time last season, which made it his most used non-fastball pitch for the first time in his career. Last year’s 12.2 percent slider rate is down from his career usage of 17.1 percent and the 20.8 percent he used the pitch in 2016.
Cashner’s average fastball velocity last season, which is steady with his career average of 94.5. Unlike Jiménez and Gallardo, Cashner hasn’t shown any dramatic loss of fastball velocity. His fastball has averaged between 93.4 and 94.5 over the past five seasons, and the velocity on his secondary pitches — his slider, changeup and curveball — have been steady. In fact, his slider velocity went up an average of 1.5 mph to 88.5 last year with less usage.
Cashner’s ground-ball rate last season, which is slightly higher than last year’s 44.2 league average. But he also hasn’t shown to be a fly-ball pitcher, as his 33.2 percent fly-ball rate is lower than the 35.5 percent league average.