The Orioles have now lost 5 straight games and are 6-6 for the season. A lot of fans seem to be frustrated already and are worrying about the team. I will admit I am the type of fan who is left in a bad mood after Kevin Gregg blows a save to the Yankees leading to another loss and the Orioles lose 8 to 2 to the Cleveland Indians. I start to doubt the team and its future yada yada yada. However, fans need to keep their heads up and not lose their cool just yet.
It is a very long season and losing streaks are going to happen. A 5 game losing streak isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things. Now if it becomes a 10 to 12 game losing streak then yes fans can start getting pissed off. However, the Orioles are 6 and 6 through the first 12 games of the season and I think a lot of fans would take that. The fact still remains that most fans would be THRILLED with a .500 season and that is where the Orioles are right now. Fans are already starting to turn on Showalter. Again, a 10 to 12 game losing streak is different.
Showalter has been through 5 game losing streaks before in his managerial career and I’m sure he knows how to motivate this team. Fans can question his moves, but lets face it, every manager is going to make decisions that are going to be questioned. I think there are a couple things fans need to keep in mind. First, statistically the Orioles are not playing well at all. They are not getting consistent pitching and their hitting (which was supposed to be improved this year and a strength) has been abysmal. The only Orioles hitter hitting above .300 is Felix Pie and his isn’t even starting. The next highest average on the team is Cesar Izturis’s .267 average. This is horrendous, there is no way around it. Brian Roberts, the lead off hitter, leads the Orioles with 3 home runs. Now, you would have to expect or at least hope these terrible numbers won’t continue. So really, the Orioles are 6-6 after going through a terrible hitting stretch, inconsistent pitching, and key injuries. I would say that is not bad.
Secondly, I think Orioles fans and probably fans in general tend to get too caught up in a few games. As fans we got really excited and probably started to think playoffs when we swept the Rays at the start of the season. Now, we feel like the team is going downhill and the organization is in shambles after losing 5 games in a row. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I think fans need to keep in mind that this team nearly lost 100 games last season. I have been reminding myself that a .500 season and 80 plus wins would be a huge turnaround in the right direction for this team. The Orioles made a lot of changes this offseason, but still don’t have a team that should be contending for a playoff spot in the AL East. I know fans may be holding out hope the Orioles could make a run at the playoffs but it is not going to happen this year. And if I’m wrong, I will be happy to admit I was wrong.
Finally, one thing that concerns me is the Orioles severe lack of pitching depth in the upper levels of the organization. The pitching talent is all at the major league level. The Orioles Triple A pitching rotation really has no one that can be counted on to join the rotation and help out if the Orioles lose another starter or two to injury. I am already wondering what the heck Josh Rupe and Chris Jakubauskas are doing in the bullpen. No offense to these guys personally, but no successful major league team is going to have these type of pitchers on their major league staff. It is only April and the Orioles are already turning to these guys? This is worrisome to me. Maybe when Matusz and Duchscherer come back from injury they can move Bergesen and Tillman to the bullpen and help them transition to major league success by pitching out of the bullpen for a while.
One other option just presented itself that I would love to see the Orioles pursue. Former Orioles prospect Garret Olson was just designated for assignment by the Pirates. The Pirates needed to create room for lefty Joe Beimel so now Olson is available. I think Olson would be a great pick up for the pitching starved Orioles. He was drafted and came up with the Orioles and is just what they need right now. Olson is a lefty who can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen and has experience starting. Also, if you look at his numbers he has been solid the past couple years. Last season, in 35 appearances for the Mariners, Olson put up a 4.54 ERA. This season in 4 and 1/3 innings Olson has allowed just one run and struck out 4. I think he would be an upgrade in long relief over what the Orioles have now. Don’t worry O’s fans…at least not yet.