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Dave Wallace: The Orioles' Best Offseason Acquisition

August 19, 2014

When the Orioles announced the hiring of Dave Wallace as the team's new pitching coach Oct. 29, 2013, the move barely registered a blip on the radar screen of most Baltimore sports fans.

While I thought it was a smart move at the time, looking back, I can see clearly how important the hiring of Wallace was. Rick Adair, the team's pitching coach from 2011-13, left the team during the 2013 season to tend to his ailing father, and then confirmed during the offseason he would not be returning.

Orioles 2014: Dave Wallace, Miguel Gonzalez
Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox

Wallace became the fifth pitching coach to serve under manager Buck Showalter, following interim pitching coach Bill Castro (2013), Adair (2011-13), Mark Connor (2011) and Rick Kranitz (2010).

Clearly, Showalter and Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette sensed the need for bringing in a coach who could provide a stabilizing presence for a staff comprised primarily of young arms.

And they seem to have found their man in Wallace.

Starting pitcher Bud Norris' seven innings of three-hit baseball Aug. 18 was just the latest example of Wallace's handy work. Norris is 11-7, and both his ERA (3.69) and WHIP (1.21) are career bests.

Norris isn't the only Orioles pitcher having a career year.

Lefty Wei-Yin Chen has been dazzling during the past two months on his way to a 12-4 record and 3.76 ERA for the season -- a marked improvement compared to the past two seasons when he was a combined 19-18 with an ERA just better than 4.00.

Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman have both been coming on strong of late. Gonzalez was 4-5 with a 4.04 ERA during 16 games before the All-Star break, but in his four starts since then, he has posted a 2-1 record and 2.92 ERA. Tillman was 7-5 with a 4.11 ERA during 20 starts before the All-Star break, but during his six starts since then, he has posted a 2-0 record and 2.35 ERA.

And the youngest arm of all in the Orioles' rotation, 2012 draftee Kevin Gausman, has improved from a 3-5 record and 5.66 ERA in 2013 to a 7-4 record and 3.70 ERA in 2014.

The common denominator through all these statistics is the watchful eye and diligent tutelage of Wallace.

Ironically, the highest-paid pitcher in Orioles history is the one who remains the biggest enigma of all.

While Ubaldo Jimenez looks to be a long shot to contribute anything meaningful to the ballclub this season, I wouldn't bet against Wallace unlocking the key to Jimenez's past success and delivering some value against the righty's hefty contract.

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