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Fact & Opinion – Orioles Edition

With the usual apologies to former Baltimore Sun Columnist (and current contributor) John Eisenberg, here is another submission of my version of ‘Fact & Opinion.’

You can discuss this on the BSL board here.

Fact: 22 year old Kevin Gausman made his Major League debut tonight, going 5 innings, allowing 7 hits, 4 er, 1 hr, 2 bb’s, with 5 k’s.

Opinion: I’m very impressed. This is a guy that was starting in college last June. He had 15 pro innings last year. He had under 50 this year. You can’t expect a finished refined product. You can’t teach that stuff though. And I love that his mechanics look repeatable. As many people said during the BSL Game thread he was spending a lot of time up in the zone. You are going to want to see him work in more 2 seamers. I thought he showed some run with the 4 seam, but it was a little flat at times. Love the change-up, and do believe that can be an out pitch for him at the ML level. Just a lot to like, and be excited about. I fully expect him to stay in the O’s rotation, and be an effective back of the rotation starter this year. That has plenty of value, and as he gains experience, the sky really is the limit for him.

Fact: The Orioles are currently 4th in the Majors in runs scored.

Opinion: I don’t expect them to stay at quite this level, but do expect them to finish somewhere between 10th – 12th overall. Basically an upper 1/3 offense.

Fact: Baltimore is 20th overall in Quality Starts.

Opinion: While Quality Starts is not overly descriptive, it does provide a general overview. Bottom-line, the rotation has not been good enough. Barring any external addition, the key to the rotation remains Hammel. My BSL colleague Jeff Long recently had a good look at Hammel’s struggles this year. His last start was an improvement, let’s see if he can build on that. Generally, I expect the rotation to improve. Chen will return, and will keep the O’s in most games. Tillman has been very solid over his last 6 outings. Combined with what the 25 year old did over the 2nd half last year, you currently have to be pretty confident when Tillman takes the mound. Gonzalez came off the DL to deliver a quality outing vs. New York. It’s not hard for me to envision him as an effective 4th or 5th starter the rest of the year. As mentioned above, I expect the same from Gausman the rest of the year.

Even though I expect the rotation to improve, I believe adding another known quantity to the front of the O’s rotation has to be the priority if Baltimore is going to again legitimately compete for a Playoff appearance.

Fact: After allowing 1 er in 13 outings between April 21st and May 11th, Strop has allowed 5 er over his last 5 outings, including 2 tonight.

Opinion: As evidenced by my 2013 Projection for Strop, I’m a fan of his ability. At this point we’ve seen a guy that was excellent in April – July 2012, ok in August, poor in September, good in the World Baseball Classic, and poor over April – May 2013.

What should the O’s do with him? With Strop being out of options – and unable to be directly sent to the Minors without going through waivers – many O’s fans just want to designate him for assignment.

I’m not excited by that prospect. At his best, he showed a very high ceiling. I don’t want to just give him away for nothing. As poor as he has been this year, going into tonight, his OPS against was .691. His Batting Average Against was .206. His K/9 ratio was 8.83. His GB% was 53.3%. For a guy not pitching well, those are some encouraging numbers. They provide indication of his ‘stuff’.

That said, it does not matter what stuff you have, if you can’t throw a strike. His mechanics tonight were just ridiculously horrible. Flying open, giving himself no chance at success.

My preference? Try and hide him some over the next Month, and use him in lower-leverage situations. When you go to augment the team with external additions in July, have him available as an extra-piece to be included from the O’s. On his own, he is not going to bring back much of anything of value. As part of a larger trade, someone will value him as a piece.

Fact: Jim Johnson blew 3 saves last week.

Opinion: It was tough to watch, but that’s baseball. Johnson was great in ’12, arguably better in ’11, and very strong to begin ’13. Even with mediocre k rates (actually improved, and pretty solid this year), Johnson is an elite Closer. I have full confidence in him having another excellent year.

Fact: Matusz has pitched 18.1 innings in his 22 outings.

Opinion: While part of me would like to see Matusz get another opportunity to start, the O’s have not shown any inclination to remove him from the bullpen. As such, I hope to see him provide additional innings. 7 of his last 10 outings have been under an inning of work. Mostly just LOOGY usage. That seems like a general waste of his abilities.

Fact: Davis hit his 15th homer tonight. For the year, he is batting .327, with those 15 homers, 15 doubles, 44 rbi, 24 bb’s, 47 k’s, and his OPS is 1.114.

Opinion: Last year he had 37 bb’s, and 169 k’s. Is his elevated production the result of that improved plate discipline, or are pitchers being more cautious with him – allowing him to be more selective? Probably a bit of both. He certainly deserves credit for reducing his swings on balls outside of the strike-zone. The power Davis has is remarkable. A true ’80.’ Davis will struggle at some point (things do even out), but it seems reasonable to expect him to finish this year with an OPS at .850 and above. The 27 year old is arbitration eligible the next 2 years, and a Free Agent in 2016. I don’t believe anyone thinks he is going to maintain this herculean level. However, his production this year gives credence that last year was not a fluke (and that further upside exists). I’d like to see the O’s pursue an extension now.

Fact: After a .570 OPS in April, Hardy has a .832 OPS in May. (Though his on-base % in May, is still under 30%.)

Opinion: It’s a much deeper lineup when Hardy is producing. I think when he concentrates on going opposite field, he gets more pitches on the inner-half to turn on.

Fact: Arrieta, Britton, and S. Johnson have each had outings for the O’s this year. Wada has made 2 starts for AAA Norfolk.

Opinion: All 4 of them will have time in an O’s uniform during the rest of the year. Should need arise (when need arises), they could (will) find themselves getting additional starts. I also see them as alternatives to Patton, Strop, and McFarland in the bullpen.

Fact: Jones has played in all 47 games. He is batting .317, with 7 homers, 15 doubles, 31 rbi, 8 bb’s, 41 k’s, 8 steals, and has a .845 OPS. In those 47 games, he has hits in 40 of them.

Opinion: He can be somewhat frustrating in the sense, that it is not that hard to envision him being ‘that much better.’ However, I think he should be enjoyed/respected for what he is – not hated for what we wish he was.

.873 OPS in April, .787 OPS in May.  4 of his 6 full Months in ’11 were over .800 as well.

His UZR/150 is crushing his fWAR right now, but that figures to improve some. Probably won’t look ‘good’, but doesn’t figure to look as bad as it does now. The plate discipline doesn’t figure to change – and while that is disappointing (and limiting) – he remains one of the better offensive CF’s in the game overall.

He generally plays hard,  best evidenced by how he slides into 2nd. I respect that as well. Could he be better? Sure. But he’s pretty damn good.

Fact: After his 3 doubles tonight, Machado is now batting: .330, with 21 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homers, 10 bb’s, 29 k’s, with an OPS of .889. His UZR/150 is 30.6.   He turns 21 on July 6th.

Opinion: Wow. What a pleasure he is to watch play on a daily basis. He’s crushing what I thought was the ceiling for him this year. I guess I expect his numbers to come down. Mainly because they are at an absurd level for anyone, so it is hard to expect anyone to play at an MVP level for an entire year – let alone a guy who has just 97 Major League games under his belt. Still, when you see how advanced his approach is at the plate – you wonder if there is anything he can’t achieve.

Fact: Following the 12-6 lost in Toronto, the Orioles are 25-22 overall, 3.5 GB of the Yankees in the AL East. Boston and Detroit are currently the two American League Wild Cards, with the O’s 2GB of Detroit. There are 50 games until the All-Star break. There are 62 games until the Non-Waiver Deadline.

Opinion: They say it every year because it is true. 162 games is a marathon, not a sprint. When you play that many games, you simply can’t allow yourself to get too high or too low depending on the events of the day.

You are not as good as you look when going great, nor as bad as you look when going bad.
It’s a long year. There are ups. There are downs.

The O’s offense will be solid enough if their regulars stay healthy. The rotation looks horrible right now, but I think can return to being average ish. The defense is pretty good (currently 4th in defensive efficiency). The bullpen was great last year, and strong this year until the past week. I think they will again be ‘plus’.

If the O’s can get to the non-waiver deadline, and still be in things – I believe the O’s will augment. The question is can the O’s stay respectable between now and the end of July?

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Written by Chris Stoner
5 years ago
Baltimore Orioles, Fact and Opinion,

Chris Stoner

Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director. You can reach him via email at [email protected].


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