I guess because I read scores and talk about games for a living I’m often asked, “what do you think about the Orioles this year?” That question is usually followed by this answer… “check back with me around the Preakness.” The 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes is tomorrow so with the 3-year-olds ready at Pimlico I guess it’s time to check the oil on the Orioles.
Whether a team starts 1-4 or 4-1 there’s usually knee-jerk over reaction for the six month 162-game marathon that is a MLB season. I remember Earl Weaver wrestling with the question and questioner when he would be asked about a good or bad start.
Earl would bristle what’s a start! “Is it a week, 20 games, a month what the hell is a start.” I’ve always felt that the third Saturday in May (Preakness) was a good measuring stick. This year it turns out it’s exactly the quarter-pole of the season.
The O’s play game 40 tonight against Toronto so during the 5th inning in Saturday’s game they will have played exactly 25% of their 162 game season.
Currently the Orioles are leaking oil, they’ve lost 6 of their last 7 games all 6 by just 1-run. That’s the snapshot but the big picture shows they won 6-straight before they lost 6 of 7 and their 23-16 record has them in second place just a game and half behind the Yankees ahead of pre-season favorites Boston and Toronto.
The offseason questions about the Orioles starting pitching haven’t been answered. Dylan Bundy is off to a strong start but Kevin Gausman has been terrible, Chris Tillman has been battling a cranky shoulder, Wade Miley has been pitch-count crazy and Ubaldo has been well, Ubaldo.
The bullpen long a strength has recently turned into a question mark. Star closer Zach Britton may not be back until the All-Star break and reliable Brad Bach, Darren O’Day and Mychel Givens haven’t been as reliable. The starting pitching hasn’t helped with too many short starts resulting in overuse of the pen. There may be a few more hiccups than usual but if Britton comes back sound this bullpen should still one of the A.L.’s best in the second half.
The Orioles bats will likely heat up just like the weather, history tells us we can expect more. After all Manny Machado is better than the .224 he’s currently hitting and Mark Trumbo is on pace for only 20 homers he led MLB with 47 last year he may not hit 47 but his track record says he’ll do better than 20.
J.J. Hardy won’t challenge for a batting title but he should hit better than his .197 average. Adam Jones and Chris Davis are both on pace for 68 RBI they likely will do better. On the plus side Trey Mancini is proving he can hit major league pitching and with power and Seth Smith has been a nice addition.
With a quarter of the season down, and the horses in the gate at Pimlico, I’d have to say to those asking the Orioles are doing just fine.
No, they don’t look like champions or World Series favorites the starting pitching may not allow for that, but they do look like they could be in the hunt in September and who knows what that leads to in October.
Enjoy the race!