Hunt(er)ing For an Answer to Starting Pitching Struggles
The Orioles go into tonight’s game with a starting pitching ERA of 4.47 Ranked 6th in the American League that has remained manageable thanks in part to Chen (3.38) and Hammel (2.61). Hammel and Chen have gone a combined 15-5 while the rest of the starters 11-22. Here’s a look at everyone behind Chen and Hammel and who we could see called up.
Hunter (5.70ERA) can not seem to avoid the long ball this year as he’s allowed (18)HR’s, he trails P.Hughes (19) and J.Vargas, SEA.(21). Before coming to Baltimore he posted a 13-4 record and a 3.73era and 3HR’s in 128.0 innings in 2010. Unfortunately these career high’s are not the ones the Orioles envisioned when signing him. The recent move to the bullpen has been a reflection of his struggles on the mound and we could see him DFA once Lindstrom returns from the DL.
Matusz (5.24ERA) continues to struggle with consistency and once again his 6th inning struggles continued, he has a 20.25 ERA in the 6th inning allowing 18 earned runs. It’s been hard to watch Matusz struggle, hoping that he could return to his 2009 form in which he went 11-2 with a 1.91ERA. Orioles saw Matusz as a dominant southpaw but after last years struggles it sometimes appears that he is uncomfortable on the mound. While the leash on him as always appeared to be longer than others, we could soon see him optioned if he can’t provide consistency.
Arrieta (5.55) It finally appears Arrieta is finding some consistency after some recent changes on the mound, one that has him standing closer to the first base side of the rubber and a more relaxed approach. If Arrieta can build upon his recent momentum that will definitely help the Orioles remain in the playoff hunt, and fans would love to see him emerge as the ace he has shown glimpses of becoming. It appears that the temporary move to the bullpen has inspired him, with the exception of the Mets game, he has been lights out. I don’t see a return to the minors, but we could see him packaged in a trade, though the ladies of Baltimore would miss their heartthrob pitcher.
Britton (5.74ERA) is a fan favorite to get the call up, rumors are that he has returned to full form and his velocity and command appear to be improving. In his last start he allowed two runs and four hits, while his ERA inflated with his first couple starts and getting readjusted, he appears to be settling in and definitely has the attention of Dan and Buck.
Berken (2.32ERA) was just selected to the Triple-A All-Star game in Buffalo, and is garnering attention, he’s 1-1 in 14 games this year and continues to show dominance at the triple-A level. Berken has had flashes in the past in the bullpen but appears to be adjusting to his new starting role. Berken and Britton’s recent success contributed to the release of Jamie Moyer.
Tillman (3.76ERA) appears to be finding his groove, one of the players that came over from Seattle with A. Jones, he’s only allowed one ER in his past two starts. The issue that has always plagued Tillman was command, which appears to be much improved. The recent changes the Orioles made with their pitching staff appears to be paying off, partnered with a new the mentality that Showalter brings, appears to be a winning formula.
Gonzalez (1.61ERA) has been remarkable, appearing almost out of nowhere he has made a good impression. He was sent down to Norfolk to be stretched out, after working primarily in relief and is up to around 80 pitches and could be a couple starts before consideration. Originally drafted by the Angels, then selected by Red Sox in Rule 5 Draft, was signed by the Orioles as a free agent in February.
Baltimore has endured a lot these last fourteen years and even with the success, fans are cautious that things will end similar to previous seasons such as 2005. It appears that the Orioles had issues with enduring the ‘marathon’ that is the entire season, and were most likely seen as ‘sprinters’. While the Orioles have sustained injuries they have somehow managed to overcome these setbacks and have key performances by unlikely candidates. The management of the bullpen by Showalter has been incredible, though they lead the league in innings pitched, the innings have been dispersed evenly.
It’s been a nice change, the number of orange shirts seems to be on the rise and there seems to be something different in the air, some have even murmured the words “Why Not?.” It’s nice to know there is a lot to look forward to, the Orioles will be ‘buyers’ and could make a splash that makes for some exciting baseball come September and possibly October baseball in Baltimore. I might be a glass half-full kinda guy, but I think the Orioles can make a decent run at a postseason, what’s wrong with having a little hope.
Steve Johnson (2.82ERA) disregard that his Dad works for MASN, he’s a quality pitcher and wouldn’t of cleared waivers without getting picked up by another team. We will probably hear more about Johnson once other prospects have moved up to the majors, but he is a talented pitcher and could eventually help the Orioles.