Feb 14, 2014; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitchers prepare to work on bunting drills during Friday

Will Baltimore Orioles Pitching Excel in Final Third of Season?

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As of Friday night’s 2-1 victory over the Mariners, the Baltimore Orioles are now 61-47 on the season. This total of 108 games marks the exact two-thirds completed portion of the 2014 season, with 54 more to play.

By way of reference, the Orioles were 59-49 at this point last year, and 57-51 in 2012. That last number continues to stand out as amazing, since the Orioles were 36-18 from that point forward.

Could the Orioles put together that sort of streak again? It is not impossible. They are 9-5 since the break, and a win tonight (Saturday) would be on that pace. The O’s have won  30 of their last 47 games—with the ERA of the pitching staff dropping from 4.28 to 3.69 over that span. The starters’ ERA in those 47 games is 3.05.

More on pitching and hitting statistics in a moment, but what do we make of the won-loss record for the Orioles at this point, and what can be anticipated for the final third of 2014?

For much of the first half of the season, Orioles fans walked about with a feeling that though the Orioles were in contention, they really should have been in a bit better position considering all of the injuries sustained by other teams. Along the way also there was a sense, continuing even to this moment, that more than a couple of the Orioles players have not hit their stride at all this year.

Yet here we are at the beginning of August and two-thirds through the season, and the Orioles have the third-best record and win-loss percentage in all of baseball. Only the A’s and Angels are better, while the Orioles are essentially tied with the Dodgers—who have the best in the National League.

Much has been rightly made of this opening 16-game post-All-Star break stretch against the A’s, Angels, and Mariners. It was thought to be critical for the season; and indeed it is … yet again the Birds are 9-5 with hopes of another win or two this weekend.

Does it seem like the Baltimore Orioles are always playing teams with winning records and seldom see “easier” competition?  If you feel that way, you are actually correct. Over this first 108 games, 62 were against teams with .500 or better records, with 46 against those with a losing record. The next 12 games are against winning teams, though the following 26 games will feature teams with current records under .500.  And then the final 16 games of the regular season are against New York and Toronto, except for three versus the Red Sox.

If you put that all together, it totals out to 90 games against winning teams and 72 against losing teams.

The Orioles were thought at the beginning of the season to be a powerful offensive outfit with very suspect pitching. But this is why they play the games!  

Though the Orioles do display power—being second only to Toronto in the AL in total home runs—the O’s are eighth in batting average at .257, 11th in on-base percentage at .311, and seventh in runs per game at 4.20 (which is .04 below the league average).

By contrast, the Orioles are #3 in runs allowed per game at 3.92 (behind Seattle 3.33 and Oakland 3.46), are #6 in ERA at 3.69 (Seattle #1 at 3.06) and #7 in WHIP at 1.299, which is just a fraction better than the league average. Again, Seattle is the top team in that statistic and in most categories, slightly better than the Oakland A’s.

So it will be good for the Orioles to be done with the Mariners after this weekend. And an interesting fact is that the Toronto Blue Jays have seven games on their remaining schedule with the Mariners, including four at home just before the Orioles come to town for the final three games of the regular season.

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