Birds House: Out there pitching

Written by on April 25, 2012 in Featured, Orioles, Sports - No comments

Remember in the movie “Major League” when they show three groups of fans examining the team’s spring roster?  The first group initially says, “Who are these guys,” with the next two groups of fans saying the same thing, just with some, er, extra adjectives.  Well, once their team started playing better, the fans said, “You know they could’ve been worse” or “you know, these guys ain’t so bad.”

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Well, that’s how the thinking’s going so far with the Orioles’ starting roster.

At first, the Orioles retooled starting rotation was a little scary looking, but through their first three starts of the season they’re not bad at all. They have helped the Orioles get off to a 9-7 start as of Sunday night and have played a big role in those wins.

Photo by Shawn Levin

Jake Arrieta has actually had four starts now, and has pitched well in three of them. For the season, Arrieta is 1-1 with a 4.01 ERA. He was sitting at 2.66 before his Saturday start against the Angels, a hard day in which he gave up five earned runs in 4.1 innings.

Other than that horrible Saturday fifth inning, though, Arrieta has struck out 21 batters in 24.2 innings and has walked seven, a nice 3 to 1 K to BB ratio. He has really stepped his game up this year.

Speaking of stepping up his game, Jason Hammel has done just that. Since coming over from the Colorado Rockies in the Jeremy Guthrie trade, Hammel has so far proved all of his naysayers wrong, myself included. Hammel is 2-0 with a team best ERA of 2.37 in three starts. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning during his first start against the Minnesota Twins, and has pitched well since, giving up six hits and two earned runs in each of his starts against Toronto (no decision) and Chicago (win).

Tommy Hunter, on the other hand, has gotten worse with each start. During his first start against Minnesota, Hunter looked sharp, throwing seven innings and not allowing an earned run. His next start against Toronto wasn’t as smooth. Even though Baltimore won 7-5, Hunter gave up four home runs. His next start was against the Chicago White Sox where he gave up eight earned runs in 5.2 innings. Overall, Hunter is 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA. I think he will pick it up though.

Brian Matusz…where to begin? I thought he was going to improve this year, and he has to some extent, but his control has been killing him. In 14.2 innings pitched this year, he has struck out 11 and walked 11. He has lost all three starts and his ERA is 7.98. Some good news is that his velocity is up from last year, and he has hit 93 mph on several occasions. But considering how hard he was hit last year, I think he is trying too hard to make that perfect pitch, and that is leading to his control problems. Either way, he needs to turn things around quickly.

Wei-Yin Chen has had himself a very nice inaugural MLB season so far. In his three starts, he is 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA. On Sunday, he went toe to toe with Dan Haren of the Angels and gave up only one run over 6.1 innings. Apart from his welcome to the Majors—a first-pitch home run off the bat of Derek Jeter, he has pitched very well in all of his three starts.

Other notes –
Tsuyoshi Wada made a rehab start, but was shut down and will now visit with team doctors. Not sure what that means, but that can’t be good for him.

With the Orioles winning on Sunday 3-2 over the Angels, they finished their ten-game road trip with a record of 6-4, the first time since 2004 they finished with a record better than .500 during a ten game trip.

Speaking of the Jeremy Guthrie trade, he is now 2-1 with the Rockies with an ERA of 5.92—slightly more than twice Hammel’s ERA.

by Andy Mindzak
birds@baltimoreguide.com

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