Lately, the Orioles have been playing good baseball. Chen has returned as the team’s most consistent pitcher and the offense keeps on producing. If the Orioles want to make a serious postseason run, the offense must continue to produce but the bullpen must improve.
The one position of need for the Orioles is the designated hitter. On the season, the designated hitter has not produced for the O’s. Hitters in that position have managed to hit a meager .197 average.
Before the All-Star break, the series against the Blue Jays was a microcosm of the first half for designated hitters wearing an Orioles jersey. Ryan Flaherty, Nolan Reimold, and Chris Dickerson managed only one hit and struck out eight times. These three players also left five men on base. Four of these base runners were stranded in the lone loss to Toronto, which was a winnable game, had the DH performed better.
Now, unless you have been living under a rock in Baltimore, you know what the Orioles have recently done to improve that position. Over the All-Star break, Henry Urrutia was called up from Triple A-Norfolk. The 26-year-old Cuban sensation will be expected to come in and produce right away seeing as he is starting tonight against the Texas Rangers.
At Norfolk and Bowie, Urrutia hit a combined .356 average to go along with seven home runs and 43 RBI.
This is yet another great sign for the start of the second half.
The Orioles All-Stars, especially Manny Machado, had great performances in the All-Star game. Secondly, they won last night! Chen went 6 and one-third innings, allowing eight hits and just one earned run.
Whenever Chen is pitching, he always gives the Orioles a chance to win. He doesn’t get anxious on the mound and he eats up innings. Scott Feldman was brought in as another starter for the same purpose. He has made three starts since he was acquired and has a 5.79 ERA. In his last outing against the Blue Jays, Feldman went seven and one third innings. In those innings, he gave up three earned runs off five hits while striking out seven batters.
If Feldman can continue pitching like he has against the Blue Jays and White Sox, the Orioles chances of making a postseason run increases.
While the Orioles can make the playoffs, I won’t have much faith in their chances of making a run. Their closing situation has surprisingly become an issue and their bullpen has struggled the entire season. Their offense is great but elite pitchers can shut them down and I don’t have faith that the bullpen could keep games close.
On the other hand, the Orioles have shown they can be supremely poised and clutch. There is something about this team that also makes me think they can overcome their pitching deficiencies. The only major obstacle for this team is the closing role. Jim Johnson has a lot of saves this season but has really struggled of late. If Johnson performs, the sky is the limit for the Orioles.