Mark Connor surprisingly stepped down as Orioles pitching coach three weeks ago, prompting manager Buck Showalter to promote bullpen coach Rick Adair to oversee the pitching staff in his place. I'm not laying the blame on Adair -- the mishmash rotation was already starting to crack when Connor left the team -- but the pitchers have really struggled since the midseason switcheroo. I could just be coincidence, but check out the numbers.
The Orioles had a 4.22 ERA when Connor, who said he was tired of the big-league grind, resigned on June 14. Since then, it has risen to 4.50, giving the Orioles the second-highest ERA in the American League.
In this three-week stretch -- in which the Orioles have gone 6-14 and dropped out of shouting distance in the AL East -- the pitching staff allowed 5.4 earned runs per game. They have only gotten two quality starts from the fading rotation -- and one was Mitch Atkins’ squandered start in Tuesday night’s loss.
We knew there could be an adjustment period for the pitchers -- particularly the young starters in the rotation -- as they got used to having Adair’s voice in their ear, even if some said otherwise.
"[Connor] and Rick were on the same page, so it shouldn't be a tough transition for us," reliever Jim Johnson, who did the squandering against the Rangers on Tuesday night, said when Connor resigned. "We are going to miss Goose, that's for sure. But having Rick is definitely a competent replacement, for sure."
That will take more than three weeks to evaluate, and it’s up to the pitchers to throw strikes no matter who is tinkering with their windups. But this transition has been tougher than they expected.
*** This post has been updated since its first publication.