Where’s The Relief?
The start to this season has been very exciting. The lineup is clicking right now as it seems whomever Trembley calls on steps up and gets it done. The starting pitching has been effective and thus the Orioles are 3-1 and have been beating the beasts from the east. The great start has me excited for sure but there are several things that have me concerned.
Some will mention the failure for any of the starters thus far to get past six innings as a sign of troubles ahead. I’ll hold back my opinion on that one until further notice. I want to wait a week before judging how far this rotation can go. Often times early in the year managers will not push their starters because they are still in the process of getting them into full game shape from the spring and this time of year is the only time, with the exception of after the all-star break, that teams want to use their bullpens to keep those arms fresh. In about a week that will not be the case and the starters will need to be extended.
I look to Guthrie as being the key to resting the bullpen. He was the only starter that got through 6 innings and while he did not have his best stuff he knows how to pitch and was able to effectively navigate through a potent Yankee line up. Uehara is the other key. As I watched him pitch I think he has some great stuff but I think he needs to be more aggressive early in the count. I really like his placement on his fastball and his change-up looks unhittable at times. But I felt his big problem was the failure to attack the strike zone early in the count in an attempt to keep his pitch count down. In that respect he reminds me of Matsuzaka, a good pitcher who never gets deep into games because his pitch count gets too high because of a lack of aggressiveness early in the count. Unfortunately for Uehara the Orioles are not the Red Sox and more often then not, the bullpen will not keep his leads if he is constantly leaving after the 5th inning. Just ask Guthrie about that from last year.
With that said I am impressed with the starters so far. The have each kept us in the game and put us in the position to win. The problem has been the bullpen. The bullpen, which was a strength last year and thought to be one again this year, has shown periods of greatness and periods of mediocrity. Danny Baez looked great so far while Sherril continues to keep us pinned to the edge of our seats with his spotty control and propensity for giving up the long ball. Sarfate continues to be inconsistent following up a good outing with a poor one while Chris Ray has yet to recapture the pre-surgery form he demonstrated in the spring.
It is early on and the record looks good so far but if the Orioles are going to be able to prevent their 12th consecutive loosing season they will need to get more than 5 innings from their starters and much more consistency from an often erratic bullpen.