Not only has the mentality change, so have the players. The deal sending Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom has looked tremendous so far this half as Hammel was putting up all-star caliber numbers (8-5, 3.47 ERA, 101 strikeouts). Darren O’Day and Pedro Strop have been two of the best setup men in baseball almost guranteeing that they wil get out of every jam and have virtually perfect innings. Troy Patton and Jim Johnson have also stepped up and been shutdown players in the pen. Also, how can anyone forget what the rookie Wei-Yin Chen has done(7-5, 3.93 ERA, 78 strikeouts). In addition to the pitching, hitters like Chris Davis(.271, 14 HR, 40 RBI), Matt Wieters and Adam Jones have shown promising signs that this team will be able to continue to hit the crap out of the ball. Wieters has also been phenomenal behind the plate defensively and is throwing baserunners out with ease, except for Mike Trout but who has? In addition to Wieters having a stellar year, Adam Jones has certainly earned his new 6-year $85 million deal as he has been my first-half MVP for the Birds. All of these signs show promise with the Orioles. That’s about where the magic stops.
As of late, it seems as if they’ve reverted back to the same old Orioles. The bullpen has a good night, then a terrible one. The starting pitching will throw a gem, then stink up the joint for two or three. The offense either comes in bunches or is completely absent all together. It feels like the funk of last July may be dawning upon the team again. It would’ve been different if we went into the break putting out good efforts against the lowly Mariners and the rising Angels, but we didn’t.
There are a few glaring problems that need to be addressed.
1. Starting Pitching
The only foreseeable fix in my mind is to make a play for Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke. Some might say bring Dylan Bundy up. However, I believe we should take our time getting him to the bigs before we make a mistake and throw him into the fire when he isn’t ready, similar to the way we’ve handled (3-9) Jake Arrieta and (5-10) Brian Matusz. Chen and Hammel have been stellar, but that’s virtually it. Zach Britton is still going through rehab starts and Tommy Hunter isn’t going to be wowing scouts anytime soon. Chris Tillman is virtually the same story as the rest. The only way the starting pitching can hope to salvage wins is to pray that the offense puts up 5-8 runs a game.
2. Bullpen Inconsistency
I realize that guys can have bad outings every once in awhile, especially when they’ve been used several days in a row, but this past week of baseball really irked me in that I thought we actually had the best bullpen in baseball. Then, Pedro Strop takes the mound against Seattle and blows a chance for Wei-Yin Chen to get a win for his almost perfect game. Luis Ayala comes in against the Angels and is throwing batting practice to grown men. Before this week, this wouldn’t have been an issue and with J.C. Romero gone and Lindstrom looking as if he’s hurt again, who else can you look to?