As I watched the game unfold last night, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Orioles will ever get a starting pitcher into the seventh or eighth inning. As we take a look back at the last few seasons, the Orioles have played well in April, May and June of each season. Even just a couple of seasons ago, they held the lead in the American League East up until the All-Star Break. Why the early success? Why do we falter every August and September? How can a club go 5-32 to finish a season? How can they lose 9 of their last 10 to end a season?
Two words…………… Starting Pitching
The 2009 Orioles are off to a 6-2 start, and everyone around these parts is taking notice. There was more orange and black at OPACY last week than I can remember in recent years. The crowd enjoyed giving Mark Texiera the business. Late inning heroics, along with late inning trips to Royal Farms for some Tums seem to be the norm. Hey, we’re 6-2 right? BALTIMORE is in first place in the American League East. But for how long, is the question I ask today.
Since Sunday, the Orioles starting pitching has looked like this…..
Adam Eaton – 4 innings
Koji – 5 innings pitched
Simon – 1 1/3 innings pitched (left with an injury)
So, in the last 28 possible innings, the O’s starters have logged 10 1/3 of them. That’s 17 2/3 for the pen. Sure, they’ve won 2 out of 3, which is what every major league team is trying to do. But seriously, for this team to have any chance of lasting through June, the starters are going to have to be better. The strength of this team was to be the bullpen, but it has struggled in 7 of the first 8 games. Having the pen pitch 4 or 5 innings every night isn’t going to make it any better. Mark Hendrickson goes tonight, and again, the pen may be used early and often. Mark pitched well in his Oriole debut, but only lasted into the 6th. With using 5 relievers last night, Dave Trembley may have to use guys in situations that he is not comfortable with. For a manager, that always spells trouble.
How long before we see some of the pitching prospects in the minors? We probably won’t have to wait too long. Signing a guy like Pedro Martinez will not fix this problem. He’s not an innings eater. He’s not someone who has been healthy for a while. He’s not a Greg Maddux or Jamie Moyer who will take the young kids aside and teach them how to pitch in the big leagues. Lets face it, this is the team we will have to deal with. We just need more innings from our starters. Who will we get them from? Who knows. If it doesn’t happen soon, games in August and September may be wasted again.