Can’t Pitch + Can’t Hit = Can’t Win


The season is slipping away. Last year the Orioles were done by the third week in April. This year they’ll be lucky to last a month longer, as a respectable season may be out of reach by the third week of May. Its time for manager Buck Showalter and GM Andy MacPhail to start shaking things up.

There are so many things going wrong its hard to know where to start, but we’ve all said for months now it comes down to pitching, so let’s start there.

It’s over for Brad Bergesen. He’s not a major league starter. He touches 92 or 93 with his fastball but he leaves too many over the middle of the plate. He throws a decent split finger, but a sinker that ends up thigh high just screams ‘HIT ME’ too loudly to major league batters. The worse part is that any potential trade value the 25 year old had is now gone. Send him down to triple A and see if he can regain any trade value and then unload him.

Somewhere Chris Tillman lost 5 miles per hour on his fastball and with it he lost his future as a major league pitcher. He can’t hit 90 mph with a fastball that doesn’t move much. He may as well put it up on a tee. He used to throw 94 or even 95 and that made his slider and change up better, but without the pop on the fastball he doesn’t have many options to get guys out. His value has plummeted as well, and unless he finds out how to light up the radar gun a little more I expect he’ll disappear for good out of AA ball in about two years. Send him down now and see if someone can build up his velocity.

Jeremy Guthrie is struggling again but will be alright. He’s a good number three starter and has shown he can command his pitches and will turn in a break even record this year with a little luck. With an offense, he might even have a shot at a winning record one of these years.

Zack Britton and Jake Arrietta have the stuff to be quality major league starters. They’re only 23 and 25 respectively, so they’ll suffer some growing pains, but clearly at this point they’ve shown they have the physical skills as well as the mental make up to pitch well. Add 24 year old Brian Matusz later this month and we actually do have four decent starters.

So we still need an ace. Hopefully MacPhail and Showalter are working on packaging up a few young prospects and are zoning in on a number 1 starter. A Zach Greinke –  Felix Hernandez – Cole Hammels type. Hurry please….

And the bullpen is a similar mix of guys who should be gone, and a few that are decent so far and could contribute to a winning team. Kevin Gregg (2.25 ERA, 6 of 7 saves) is coming around and will be fine in the closer role. Mike Gonzalez (6.75 ERA) may be finding the form he had with the Braves two years ago and if he continues he’ll be an excellent set up man or lefty specialist. Jim Johnson (4.50 ERA) is returning to his 2009 form before an injury last year, and he can be lights-out again. And despite Koji Uehara’s (3.55 ERA) recent struggles giving up home runs, we know when his arm is right he can be a dominate set up man.

But Jason Berken (5.02 ERA), Josh Rupe (5.65 ERA) and Clay Rapada (11.12 ERA) don’t seem to have what it will take to survive and get hitters out. Its probably time to look elsewhere for these roles – maybe fill them with Tillman and Bergesen temporarily to see if they have any better luck facing guys only once a night. But these guys can’t execute their pitches and after 6 weeks it doesn’t look like they’ll get any better.

I’ll hit the so called offense later, but there are at least 5 pitchers (I can’t tell which list Jeremy Accardo goes on yet) that need to be changed out. It would be great if moves were made this month before the Orioles are completely out of it, but we know that’s not how it works. In our 14th straight season of losing, it’s nice to daydream once in a while though.