Baltimore Orioles: 2014 Predictions that were WRONG

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May 8, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) and catcher Caleb Joseph (36) wait during an instant replay during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sportsw

Pitching Predictions

A Relatively Weak Starting RotationThe starting rotation will be improved over 2013, though still prove to be the weakness of the team.

There is no doubt that the starting rotation was better than 2013, and in fact it was better than any rotation in many years. For the first couple of months of the season, it did look like the weakness of the team. But to their credit they caught fire by midseason and had an excellent year overall, even with the struggles of Ubaldo Jimenez. Credit the whole staff for their hard work together in learning and growing and encouraging one another day after day. And credit goes also to the new pitching coaches – the “fresh eyes” really worked out for the Baltimore Orioles.

Underestimated Middle of the RotationWei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris will struggle with inconsistency, while Miguel Gonzalez will provide strong four and five-inning starts to games, with difficulties getting deeper into the 6th and 7th frames.

All three of these pitchers have had historic problems pitching deep into games. But to their great credit, all three improved immensely this season. Chen was the biggest winner, Norris was an aggressive bulldog, and Gonzalez was the quiet bulldog workman plodder who just went out and got the job done. Few people expected this level of performance.

Not OK on O’DayDarren O’Day will have his poorest season as an Oriole, while Troy Patton will never pitch again for the O’s.

Troy Patton did pitch again for the Orioles, but only for 6.2 unpleasant innings before being traded to San Diego for Nick Hundley. Darren O’Day had a great season. My worries related to his rough time retiring lefthanders, who batted .309 against him in 2013. This year he remained equally effective against righties, but dropped his average against with left-handers to .189.  I didn’t see that coming.

Drank the Matusz Kool-AidBrian Matusz will be every bit as good against lefties as in the past, and he will provide some occasional long-relief innings that save the day in multiple games.

I’m really surprised at myself on this one, as I’ve not been a big Matusz proponent ever. But he looked so good at the end of 2013 – as if he had really found himself in a niche where he was comfortable. His overall numbers are not a lot worse, and his ERA was even a few points better. But the story is seen deeper in the stats – like the FIP (fielding independent pitching) with an ERA number that grew from 2.91 a year ago to 4.00 this season. His ERA against lefties grew from 1.68 to 2.23. The trend is not a good one.

Went O-for-3 on the Front End of the BullpenRyan Webb, Evan Meek, and Josh Stinson will all have very, very good seasons and consistent effectiveness.

All three of these throwers looked good in spring training, and Stinson had performed well at the end of 2013. Ryan Webb had fine stats from his time in Miami. But none of them got any kind of momentum during the season. Meek and Stinson won’t be back, but I still think Ryan Webb can be a positive factor.