Monday, April 23, 2012

Baltimore Orioles: The Young Rotation that Just Might

The Orioles have been making a little bit of noise each year, usually in picking up players that they can flip, or a veteran or two to guide their clubhouse, they have now however got a pretty solid 5 man rotation, without a single member over 29 years old. The oldest pitcher on the Orioles staff is 29 yr old Jason Hammel who was received from Colorado along with Matt Lindstrom for Jeremy Guthrie. Getting that much value out of Guthrie, who should be looked at as nothing more than a reliable innings eater, and shows how clever the people that Baltimore has at the top of their organization really are. That isn’t to say that Hammel is an ace, but to say that he’s younger and slightly cheaper than Guthrie with the ability to produce similar results.

Looking at the Rotation, now 3 full turns through, Baltimore is going to experience some growing pains but they’re looking to be a much improved team from last year. Of the starters only Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz are holdovers from last season’s club.  Matusz put together a pretty good 2010 season, before only turning in 12 starts in 2011, but at 26 still has room to grow and improve as a pitcher. Arrieta has similarly produced slightly below league average results but looks to be growing into himself as a pitcher at the major league level and could prove to be a respectable 3 or 4 pitcher.

Tommy Hunter who was received along side Chris Davis  from Texas for Koji Uehara has shown some great skill having put together a very good year in 2010 and a respectable 2009 looks to be struggling a bit with his walk rate up about 1 additional walk per 9 and having given up 6 home runs already, he will need to make adjustments to come close to the potential he showed in Texas.

Wei-Yin Chen rounds out the rotation as the international signing that rounds out the rotation. Chen has pitched lights out so far, despite often having men on base (1.385 WHIP slightly higher than CC Sabathia so far this season) he has been able to keep the ball on the ground, and keep his ERA to a sparkling 2.60 over 17.1 innings. Chen may well be the anchor that the Orioles need to keep this rotation moving throughout the season.

The team has been winning despite their less than stellar production from the rotation but if this rotation can put it together throughout the long season, the Orioles might well be able to pull a coup (by their standards) and avoid the bottom of the division this season. That said, Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, and Adam Jones aren’t likely to keep up this torrid pace, but if the team begins producing as a whole, the race in the AL East could look a good bit different than it has in recent years.

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