Heading into the 2016 season, it was well known that huge question marks lurked over the Orioles pitching staff. While the bullpen was – mostly – very reliable, the rotation appeared weak and was likely to present some trouble throughout the six-month campaign.
A month into the season and it’s pretty well accepted that the rotation has performed better than most people predicted. Chris Tillman has returned to his dominant ways and may even look more dangerous than seasons prior, while Kevin Gausman also looks to have hit the ground running following a delayed start to the season due to injury.
In typical Ubaldo Jimenez fashion, he has already had his fair share of ups and downs, however remains competitive more often than not, while Tyler Wilson has been impressive and appears to have improved on his form last season. Despite some inconsistency, Mike Wright has shown enough to suggest he can compete at the highest level and then of course there’s the injured Yovani Gallardo who prior to heading to the disabled list, was really struggling.
Overall though, the collective staff have earned at least a pass mark, probably just higher.
The O’s, who own a 15-11 record, have hit the skids over the last few weeks following a wonderful 7-0 start to the season. Since then, just eight wins wins from 19 games has fans concerned about what fate awaits the team throughout the summer.
Of the 11 losses, one of the biggest concern is the wasted opportunities to put a W up on the board following a quality start from a member of the rotation. This has already happened four times:
- Mike Wright, 19 April v Blue Jays (lost 4-3) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER
- Ubaldo Jimenez, 25 April @ Rays (lost 2-0) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER
- Kevin Gausman, 30 April v White Sox (lost 8-7) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER
- Tyler Wilson, 4 May v Yankees (lost 7-0) – 6 .0 IP, 3 ER
In addition to this, the O’s let another potential win slip against the Rays on 25 April, losing 2-0 after Kevin Gausman’s five innings of one-run ball.
It was widely accepted that on occasions, this pitching staff would implode and there’d be some major blowouts. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass for those three hours of viewing, however it’s baseball and these things happen. What’s even more painful though is losing the games when the pitching plays it’s part, but the stacked lineup can’t hold up their end of the deal. And yes, I get it. A team of power hitters is going to go missing from time to time. However with so much talent in the line up, it’s almost inexcusable for it to all occur at once. That line up, worth all those millions of dollars, should never get blanked.
If the O’s want to win the AL East as they did in 2014, then progress deep into playoffs, they simply cannot waste these quality starts. If they continue to do so, as they have four times in the past two weeks, they’ll struggle to win more than 80 games. Sounds brutal doesn’t it? Sadly, that’s just the reality of the situation.
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