Only time will tell if this team can maintain such a steady win rate, with less than impressive stats. Currently, the team has dropped three in a row to a struggling Kansas City Royals team, and a major reason for this is due to the critically fatigued bullpen.Read More
Machado's BABIP and 10th-highest exit velocity show that he's been pretty unlucky this season, but some is his doing as well.Read More
BY BRIAN REID
This time last week, the Orioles were staring down the barrel of disaster. Home plate umpire Sam Holbrook ejected Orioles’ starting pitcher Kevin Gausman after the first pitch of the second inning. The Orioles used their long reliever, Alec Asher, in a spot start the previous night. They had called up Richard Bleier from AAA on the Norfolk Shuttle earlier that day to fill the void, and now he would have to give them key innings to save the rest of the bullpen. Bleier rose to the challenge, giving up just one earned run in four innings of relief, in what ultimately turned out to be a losing effort.
The disaster spilled over into the next day. Manager Buck Showalter had elected to use Ubaldo Jimenez, the projected starter for the final game in Boston, in the final three innings of the previous night’s game, after Bleier. Tyler Wilson rode the Norfolk Shuttle to Boston to make the start. Wilson was excellent, giving up three earned runs in 6 innings and earning the victory.
The game on Friday was set to offer a return to normalcy. Then, Wade Miley was struck by two hard hit balls in the first inning and had to leave. Gabriel Ynoa, the newest addition to the bullpen, was called into action. He pitched an absolute gem, giving up 6 hits in 6 innings while recording 5 strikeouts and not allowing a single run on his way to his first win of the season.
On Sunday, it was Asher’s turn again, coming on in relief of starter Chris Tillman. Asher provided 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing 5 hits and striking out 2. Finally, last night, the Orioles turned to their most recent Norfolk Shuttle passenger, Logan Verrett, for three innings in a tie game against one of the hottest offensive teams in baseball. Verrett, like Ynoa, earned the win without allowing a run.
For those keeping track at home, that’s five pitchers who were sent down and called up within a week’s span. They combined to give up just four runs in 22 1/3 innings in absolutely dire straits for the Orioles. Their contributions have had an enormous, if not central, role in the current 6-game winning streak. These largely unsung heroes were rewarded for their clutch performances with a bus ticket to Norfolk and a quick, “See you in five days” from Showalter.
The other amazing factor in the story of the Norfolk shuttle is that, besides Tyler Wilson, none of the pitchers mentioned above played for the Orioles last year. Asher, Ynoa, Bleier, and Verrett were all acquired via offseason trade. Say what you will about Orioles Executive VP Dan Duquette, but even his most staunch critics must give him praise for the way he has assembled a “long-reliever by committee” this season.
Together, Duquette and Showalter have mastered the use of the 40-man roster as a means to keep the bullpen fresh behind what is often shaky starting pitching. The constantly rotating bullpen arms may be the way the Orioles beat PECOTA projections year after year. Norfolk Tides manager Ron Johnson perhaps deserves the most credit. His pitching roster is constantly in flux, and when swaps between the rosters are made, he often gets a pitcher who just pitched his absolute maximum number of innings the previous night. Johnson takes all of this in stride, while somehow managing to always have an arm or two ready to be sent up to the majors. Like the Norfolk Shuttle pitchers, he too can be considered an unsung hero in this winning streak.
The Norfolk Shuttle has enabled the Orioles to become one of baseball’s most resilient teams. Losing starts for three pitchers in a three day span would decimate the bullpens of most teams, but Showalter, Duquette, and Johnson managed the 40-man roster without a hitch, winning 2 of those 3. All three men, and the pitchers who obligingly ride the shuttle week after week, deserve praise for this 6-game winning streak. The Norfolk Shuttle made it happen and will continue to deliver fresh arms whenever the need arises.
The Orioles are in the driver's seat and should waste no time making sure they stay there.Read More
The Orioles went 5-2 in week five.Read More
The Orioles had a hot month of April. Could it be the difference maker?Read More
BY DILLON ATKINSON, @DAtkinsonOU
One month is in the books. Let's take a look back at week four.
In case you missed it: Week Three Review, Highlights, Reactions
Week Three Review
Week Three Start Date: Monday, April 22
Week Three End Date: Sunday, April 30
Games Played / Total Games Played: 6 / 23
Week Three Record: 3-3
AL East Standings:
- Orioles (15-8)
- Yankees (15-8)
- Red Sox (13-11)
- Rays (12-14)
- Blue Jays (8-17)
Top Four Highlights Of The Week
Seth Smith's Little League Home Run
Machado jacks an absolute BOMB at Yankee Stadium
Schoop and Mancini team up to make a great play on Holliday
Caleb Joseph gets his RBI finally. And it's not just one!
Six Games, Six Reactions
This Is The Worst We've Seen From Ubaldo
You may not believe this whatsoever, but this past April was the FIRST time Ubaldo Jimenez, as an Oriole, started four games in one month without going five innings.
I've made arguments in the past that Jimenez is good enough to be at the back of a major-league rotation, and his first-half of 2015 and second-half of 2016 numbers show he is capable of being a good starting pitcher.
But that's kind of the thing that makes it even more frustrating. We've seen what he's capable of when he is "on." He is really, really good. But that comes maybe 30-40 percent of the time. The other 60-70 percent is bad Ubaldo.
I'd give him one or two more starts to actually get beyond five innings in a start. If he can't do that two starts from now, he needs to be designated for assignment.
If he does go beyond five innings each, I'll give him another month to prove he can be a number five starter. If he can't by the end of May, he needs to be designated for assignment.
The clock is ticking, and it's up to Ubaldo on whether or not time will run out.
The Pending Return Of The Aces
The ace of the starting rotation and the ace of the bullpen will be rejoining the Orioles soon.
Zach Britton should be activated by Tuesday, as Chris Tillman will be making one more rehab start on the same day prior to returning to the Orioles rotation, which would line him up for his first start of the season on Sunday.
With concerns over Dylan Bundy's stamina, Wade Miley's possible regression, Kevin Gausman's slow start, and Jimenez's huge struggles, bringing a healthy Tillman back into the rotation is 100-percent positive. It'll be very nice to have him back.
The bullpen has been getting a little bit drained, and Brad Brach and Darren O'Day didn't look good in their last save opportunities. So bringing Britton back not only helps solidify the closer's role, but also pushes Brach, O'Day, Donnie Hart, and Mychal Givens further up, which means more depth out there for Buck Showalter to use.
Get Out Of Your Own Heads
This is just a short message to Brad Brach, Darren O'Day, Buck Showalter, and Jayson Aquino.
Seriously, don't overthink it, guys.
When put into separate closing situations this past weekend against the Yankees, Brach and O'Day each blew a save. Nibbling and what I like to call "pitching scared" is what helped cause both to happen. Both of these pitchers are much better when they attack batters, so hopefully they get back to that this week.
For Showalter, the only issue I have is that he's always trying to squeeze one more inning from each starting pitcher. He had success with it with Miley on Tuesday night against the Rays, but was unsuccessful in doing so with Bundy on Wednesday against the Rays and Friday with Gausman against the Yankees. In a long season, I'd prefer him just take what he got from the starter instead of pushing their limits. Especially for a young guy like Bundy, the last thing I want to see is him get pushed too much then not be available later in the year. In the end, Buck does know more than I do. But I'll still be concerned with some of his moves regardless.
With Aquino, he just looked rattled Friday night. He was brought in to try and give the Orioles innings in the extra frames, but he just did not look comfortable, as he had a lot of troubles finding the strike zone. It probably won't be the last time he'll be thrown into a situation like that again, so hopefully he can get the jitters out next time he comes in with a similar situation.
I never care about why Buck is pissed or if his argument is justifiable. It's just really fun when he is fired up and gets ejected. It doesn't happen often. But when it does, he's very animated and fun to watch.
I'm not the best at reading lips, but I'm pretty sure Showalter told the umpire "You F***ed Up This Game!" Video from Adam Zagoria on Twitter.
Wade "Bend But Don't Break" Miley
I mean, just look at Miley's starts:
- 4/9 - 5 IP, 1 H, 7 BB, 5 K, 0 R
- 4/14 - 6 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K, 3 R
- 4/20 - 8 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 11 K, 1 R
- 4/25 - 7 IP, 4 H, 6 BB, 8 K, 2 R
- 4/30 - 5 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 6 K, 2 R
In four of his five starts, Miley tangoed with danger and won the dance each time. Aside from his game on 4/20 against the Reds, Miley has allowed plenty of batters to reach base, but has done a good job of keeping them on base instead of allowing them to score. In three of his five starts, he has walked five or more batters, yet his ERA is 2.32. Ridiculously good and lucky.
Overreaction: I'm Still Losing My Mind Over Friday Night
You had a 9-1 lead on Friday night, which turned into an 11-4 lead after the top of the seventh inning. You lost 14-11.
Some like to chalk this up to "sh** happens." But not me. The Yankees were chasing eight runs in the sixth inning, seven runs in the seventh inning, and three runs in the ninth inning. There's no reason for the Orioles to walk back into that clubhouse that night with a loss.
Good thing baseball players are able to get over these things the next day, because it's three days later and I'm still very upset. All I hope is that at the end of the season, the Orioles don't miss the playoffs by one game. That would be the real gut punch.
Week Five Preview
The Orioles have seven games this week, from Monday May 1 through Sunday May 7. Here are the likely probable pitchers (will update as needed).
- Monday: at Red Sox, Dylan Bundy vs Rick Porcello
- Tuesday: at Red Sox, Alec Asher vs Chris Sale
- Wednesday: at Red Sox, Kevin Gausman vs Drew Pomeranz
- Thursday: at Red Sox, Ubaldo Jimenez vs Steven Wright
- Friday: vs White Sox, Wade Miley vs Miguel Gonzalez
- Saturday: vs White Sox, Dylan Bundy vs TBA
- Sunday: vs White Sox, Chris Tillman vs TBA
The Orioles had a hot month of April, and the starting pitching has played a good factor in that.Read More
It looks like the Orioles will be running with an extra bench player for a little bit. But when they need to go back to a four-man bench, Rickard shouldn't be staying in Baltimore.Read More
Well that was an interesting week. Manny, Barnes, Pedroia, and Gausman capture the headlines, while starts from Jimenez, Bundy, and Miley are overshadowed.Read More