O’s today: Starting pitching rivals Ravens’ offensive woes

April 15, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Another night, another pitcher battered.

Get used to it in Baltimore.  At least for 2009, that is.

Last night’s sacrificial lamb was Alfredo Simon, who collected four outs before coming up with the Rodney Dangerfield “ooooh, my arm” line (Caddyshack) and hitting the showers in Arlington, Texas. 

The ’09 O’s are going to hit.  They will score runs.  Early on – through the end of May, I suppose – they’ll win more games than they’ll lose.

But, like the football team in town would show every year when the defense carried the load and the offense sputtered, eventually, that act gets old.

This year’s O’s team has no quarterback, no wide receiver and no running back.  But, they have a great defense.

We’ve been down that road in the fall and winter a lot — until the ’08 season, anyway.

For a while, the bats on the team will be the ones making birdies.  The starting pitchers will be making double bogey or worse.

You can’t win with double bogeys on your scorecard.

They have one bonafide starting pitcher:  Jeremy Guthrie.

Last year in the American League, four of the four playoff teams had three starting pitchers (THREE) with sub 4.00 E.R.A.’s.  How’s that for a great stat?  They didn’t just have three good pitchers.  The playoff teams in the A.L. had three starters who sported 3-something E.R.A.’s.

A year ago, the O’s had one starter with an E.R.A. under the league average of 4.36.   That, of course, was Jeremy Guthrie.

Unless the A.L.’s league average E.R.A. is 5.10 this year, the Birds will likely have ONE pitcher under that figure:  Guthrie, if you’re wondering.

This act – no starting pitching to keep the game close – will eventually wear thin with the offensive players. 

And it’s going to turn into a long, long summer. 

It’s fun for now.  These comeback wins and big-bat rallies will keep us watching for a while.

At some point, though, hopefully later rather than sooner, the balloon will start leaking air and the landing probably won’t be gentle.

Who knows what the rotation will look like on June 1?

Guthrie will be there, standing tall.  Uehara, if he’s not worn out by then, will be 6-5 with a 5.20 E.R.A.  That will make him, without question, the team’s second best pitcher.

Alfredo Simon might not make another start this year, based on last night’s “injury” and the fact that he apparently thinks part of pitching is giving up home runs every other inning.   Mark Hendrickson will follow his career form and be really good in April, just OK in May and “just get him out of here” by June.  Adam Eaton?  You can fill in the blank on that one.  I think the O’s will be around .500 by the end of May.  I doubt Eaton will be around to enjoy it.

Well, then who?  Radhames Liz?  The club felt so highly about him they shipped him back to Norfolk at the end of spring training.  Rich Hill?  It would be nice to see if he can do anything.  So far, he looks great with an ice pack on his arm.  Brad Bergesen is probably destined to show up at Camden Yards at some point before Memorial Day — but what if they decide not to throw him to the wolves?  Arrieta?  No, not now.  Tillman?  Not ready. 

As for the bullpen…we all know exactly how that’s going to pan out.  They’ll be acceptable through June or so.  They’ll battle hard.  There will be good nights and rescue-missions galore after the starter gets hammered before finishing four innings.  By mid-summer though, the bullpen arms will be in tatters and that’s when the dog days come around.  They’ll never survive the long haul when they’re called upon to “serve and protect” every single game.

To borrow that famous phrase:  “It is — what it is”.

The starting pitching is not very good. 

I might be a tad “too nice” when I label it “not very good”.  It could be worse than that. 

I said at the beginning of the year that the O’s would win 73 games.

I’ll stick with that for now…after all, if they win tonight in Texas, they’ll be 10% of the way to my predicted win total.

But if they don’t get better starting pitching, 73 wins MIGHT include spring training victories.

It didn’t have to be this bad.

But it is.

Make that:  It will be.

Enjoy these wins now, kids.

Football training camp is just over four months away.