Rob Long: The Orioles Achilles Heel
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The Baltimore Orioles are on a roll right now as they are beginning to state their claim as the best team in the American League East. True, there’s a lot of baseball to be played still but the O’s are showing good signs as the rest of the division has struggled.
As you look at the roster though, you question the depth of the starting pitching staff. While Buck Showalter says they have six starters (not committing to a six-man rotation), the real question is how many out of that six are quality starters?
Consider this, Bud Norris came off of the disabled list on Wednesday and only gave the Birds four innings while yielding five runs on six hits, including two home runs. It was not Norris’ best outing of year. The righty was optioned to Norfolk on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Wei-Yin Chen started against the Washington Nationals on Thursday and was cruising until the sixth inning. That’s when the Nats cut into a four-run deficit and made it 4-3. Chen gave up three runs on eight hits in his 5 2/3 innings.
As this team moves forward, you have to wonder if Buck can continue to shuttle starting pitchers from Norfolk to the Bigs in order to save his bullpen. Can this staff put together enough quality starts between now and October to get to and advance in the post-season? If not, is a move eminent?
Kevin Gausman has shown the ability to put together consecutive quality starts but he has been victimized by an overused bullpen at times. When Manager Buck Showalter has needed more relief, he’s sent Gausman down. Ubaldo Jimenez has been one of the least consistent pitchers in the rotation but you wonder how much his contract dictates the amount of “chances” he will get.
If the O’s get to the post-season, are you comfortable with three starters from the rotation who can put together a successful run? I am, but two of those pitchers includes two players who have been sent to Triple A, Norris and Gausman. As of now that’s irrelevant. This team has to get there first. Let’s hope the arms can hold up.
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