Baltimore Orioles- Dead even at the All-Star break
The Baltimore Orioles were hoping they could turn back the clock. Last year, mid-way through the season, the Orioles were in first place of the American League East. That’s not the case this year. The Birds are 44-44 and are in 3rd place behind the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays. They are 3.5 games out of first place. They are still a team that is definitely still in contention for a place in the playoffs. The bullpen and Manny Machado are responsible for the Orioles playing as well as they have up to this point.
Manny Machado is superman!
Manny Machado is only 23 years old. He is having a fantastic year at 3rd place. His stellar play in the field has been combined with a batting average of .298. He already has 19 home runs which surpasses his career high. He has put the Orioles on his back and provided the majority of the offense that has been generated.
Graphic via gammonsdaily
Stable, consistent bullpen and great defense
With so little offense being generated, the bullpen has been a shining star in the Orioles performance so far this season. Wei-Yin Chen, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Miguel Gonzalez have stabilized the bullpen and kept the Orioles in many games this year. Combined with good pitching has been great defense. The Birds are tied for 2nd place in the league in defense. They have only committed 38 errors this year.
Dismal run support
The great defense and pitching has hidden the most glaring weakness the Orioles have. They have had absolutely run support. Most of the Birds are struggling with the bats. The batting average for the team is .218. It is difficult to win games if you can’t put runs on the board. They only are averaging 2.9 runs per game. This is something they definitely have to change going into the second half of the season.
Second half improvements needed
Chris Tillman has been horrible this year so far. He has been inconsistent and been walking more people than normal. He has a 5.40 ERA and absolutely needs to fix whatever is wrong. It has been suspected that he may have some injury. They need to get him back on track to have any chance of making a run for the playoffs.
Buck Showalter needs to find some way of getting his hitters attacking the ball. Possibly move the 3-4-5 hitters around could help put a spark into the bats. These positions are supposed to move batters around and score runs. Hits usually generate more hits. The slump can’t continue forever. Hopefully the batters can get going before it’s too late.
Key road trip to start the second half of the season
The Orioles are playing average ball at this point. Coming out of the break, the Orioles go on one of the longest road trips of the year. They will start at Detroit this weekend but then next week is probably two of the most important series the Birds will play in the second half. It is important that this team start to build momentum to get them on the right track to make a run towards the World Series. They play the first place Yankees in the middle of next week and then end the week at Tampa Bay. It is very important to win both of these series so they don’t fall further behind. A young team like this needs the confidence that a close race brings to keep them motivated. Who knows, if the bats start swinging and the pitching and defense maintains its excellence, this team could find itself in first place at the end of next weekend.
Graphic via baseballhotcorner.com