For professional baseball players, there is some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that it is rather easy to achieve bum status with your fan base, as all it takes sometimes is a bit of a slump. The good news is that it is likewise rather easy (in terms of a window of time) to achieve hero status.
The fans of the Orioles are no worse than any others; they are probably in fact better than most in terms of supporting their team. But over the early part of this season we have seen quite a few different guys labeled as a goat. I don’t generally buy into this very quickly – am just noting the pattern particularly evident on comment boards.
Last year’s Rule 5 darling Ryan Flaherty has not escaped some rather severe criticisms. His defense is rightly applauded – the skill that keeps him in the lineup. But his hitting has been very weak for the most part, though he seems somewhat improved after his trip to AAA. But if his ninth-inning 375-foot foul ball would have been on the Flag Court on Saturday for a walk-off win, all of this would have been quickly forgotten.
Likewise, this year’s Rule 5 guy T.J. McFarland has been a frequent flyer on message boards, as fans ponder if the Orioles can afford to keep a non-critical-situations innings eater on the roster for the whole season. But several very commendable recent outings have given his stock at least a short-term rise in valuation.
And has anyone heard the phrase “Tommy Home Run Hunter” used lately? But again, on the flip side, no less than Jim Johnson hit the goat list for a time, as has Taylor Teagarden, Jason Hammel, and just about every person batting as the DH.
But the bum of the week for last week was Pedro Strop. He is still not out of the goat house. It is a difficult case to say that the Orioles should surely give him a longer leash … but I made that case on this blog in an article last week.
Right now, the bum of the week (status pending as “probable”) is Jake Arrieta. Like Strop, he is a difficult guy to defend. The best I can say in that regard is this: since he is pitching tonight in a spot start, his career ERA against the Detroit Tigers is 1.46, and the combined batting average of their current team against him is .194 … and yes, I know it is a small sample size. Without doubt, Arrieta has had little success this year for Baltimore or Norfolk.
Contrast Jake’s lack of recent success with the record of the Tiger’s Max Scherzer, who coming into tonight’s game at 9-0 with a 3.19 ERA this season. Over his past 27 starts he is 16-1 with a 2.66 ERA. THAT.IS.IMPRESSIVE.
So really, what chance whatsoever do the Orioles have this evening? To paraphrase the movie “Dumb and Dumber,”— I’m saying they have a chance … and better than “that one in a million talk.” This is baseball, and anything can happen. We have already seen more than a few games this year go totally opposite of expectations. And hey – nobody has more natural talent than Jake Arrieta. Oh, that didn’t encourage you? OK, how about this? … Miguel Cabrera is hitting .179 over his last nine games! Now don’t you feel better?