Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
For me, the Orioles are the biggest surprise in the AL East. There is no way I expected them to be in 2nd place. I’ll be even more surprised if they continue to be within striking distance in August and September. They’ve ridden a solid offense that is only going to get better once they all click together. Their defense has been great. If (that’s a big “if”) their pitching can turn around and keep them in games, they’ll have no trouble challenging for the title.
Starting Pitching- C+
Chris Tillman and Wei-Yin Chen are 3-1. Aaaand, that’s about all the good news. Ubaldo Jimenez, Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez have a combined 2 wins between them. Jimenez has none! Jays fans- please stop giggling now. The starters have only managed to average roughly 5 1/3 innings. This seems to be a theme in the AL East. It is hard to stay in a game when you’re averaging a WHIP of 1.48. The O’s starters have given up about 10.2 hits per 9 innings. This wouldn’t be so bad if they were actually pitching 9 innings. But, they’re not. They are also averaging 7.12 K/9. On the surface this looks good, but it also runs up your pitch count. Which makes you have to leave the game sooner.
The O’s have had to rely on their bullpen for 72.8 innings. That’s an average of roughly 3 2/3 of an inning. While not obscene, it certainly makes for a lot of work for the 8 men who have contributed. In their almost 73 innings of work, they’ve given up 25 walks. Like the starters, they too have not managed to get their work in quickly. We need only look to the closer, Tommy Hunter for evidence. His numbers are middle of the pack for the bullpen. He’s a closer. He’s supposed to come in for an inning and shut things down so everyone can go home. He’s been effective. He has 6 saves so far. No one is questioning that. What is questionable is HOW you go about being effective. In 8.2 innings of work, Hunter has given up 11.4 H/9, 1 HR/9, 1 BB/9, and 6.2 K/9. All of this adds up to a lot more pitches than necessary to get your job done.