The Baltimore Orioles have gone 14-7 since getting swept by the Chicago Cubs after the All-Star break, and are right back in the middle of the playoff hunt.
It doesn’t take a deep dive, or rocket science to figure out why the Baltimore Orioles have been a much better team since the All-Star break.
First, the offense has been much better. Try one of the best in baseball.
There are reasons for why. Jonathan Schoop higher in the order, stability in the outfield, a shortstop who is hitting. The biggest may be the fact that Manny Machado has gone back to being, well, Manny Machado. The pitching has also been better.
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Some of that credit goes to the individual pitchers for finding themselves. Ubaldo Jimenez has been better over his last few starts.
But, it could be a simple fact that competition has helped improve the pitching.
We’ve all seen the ERAs in AAA Norfolk. We know some of the top young arms aren’t ready yet.
And so, Buck had to keep running the same rotation out. If you struggled, there wasn’t much that could be done.
No longer. Tillman has now been removed from the rotation. For an intriguing read on why the Orioles should sign him now to a contract for 2018, check out a piece by Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com.
There is no accountability for the lack of success.
Then there is the bullpen. Sure there are some hiccups, but I think some of them stemmed from concern over the future (Zach Britton), and the fact the bullpen isn’t going to be perfect. Mychal Givens grand slam versus Justin Upton is an example of that.
The same guys are currently serving in the bullpen, and I think even when the inevitable roster move is made for a position player, that Donnie Hart will probably be the player to go. That keep the Orioles’ bullpen of Britton, Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, Givens, Richard Bleier, Castro and Tillman intact. Those primary six relievers have been the best for Baltimore all year.
Now Tillman will have time to figure it out in the bullpen. In my mind, if he can figure out how to not struggle in the first inning, he will help cure some of his current issues.
Let’s look a little at some of the second half numbers for the Birds versus the rest of Major League Baseball.
Runs: First place with 136
Hits: Second place with 234 (one game behind Houston)
Doubles – Tied for sixth with 46
Home Runs – Third place with 38 (four games behind Chicago Cubs for first place)
Strike Outs (by hitters) – Sixth place with 170 – A major feat for the Orioles
Average – Third place at .286
On-base Percentage: Fifth place at .346
Pitches Faced – Eighth place at 3505 faced – Again, a good statistic for a team that does not always work the count.
Earned Runs – 11th worst at 102
Home Runs Allowed – Third worst at 35
Average Against – 10th best at .254
WHIP – 10th best at 1.28
Strike Outs – 14th most at 190
GIDP – Tied for first with 25
Ground Outs – Third most at 230
Air Outs – Tied for ninth fewest at 190
So, what can we say about this?
Well, the offense is doing an outstanding job. They are hitting for average and getting on-base at clips that rarely happen with the Baltimore Orioles.
They are working the count and seeing a lot of pitches, which helps get the starters out of the game and allows the offense to know what pitches to expect.
And, they are not striking out a lot at all. They have the sixth-fewest strike outs in baseball, which is tremendous for a power hitting team like the Orioles.
As for the pitching, the team is not doing well at keeping the ball in the park, but they are doing a good job of maintaining the ball on the ground. We can conclude that the fly balls that are being hit are leaving the yard at a very high rate, which isn’t a great sign.
They are doing a good job of keeping the opposition on the ground, and with the strong defense, has turned that into some double plays.
So, the Baltimore Orioles have been one of, if not the best offensive team in the All-Star Game. The pitching is improving. This is a team that is rounding into form at the right time, and with the upcoming schedule featuring winnable games and then the AL East throwdown, could be putting themselves in place to not only fight for a Wild Card slot, but also the AL East.