The Baltimore Orioles are one of the better teams in the MLB when it comes to opening day. They have won the 13 of the last 16 Opening Days and since, going 13-3 since 2000. Residents of Baltimore will probably take credit for that - as they should, along with Camden Yard being one of the best parks in the MLB. To start this season though, one thing that caught everyone attention is how solid the pitching was to start the season, especially since no one knew what to expect from this staff during Spring Training.
Buck Showalter in his 7th season with the O’s, has consistently been one of the best managers in baseball, turning a bottom feeder into a contender in the American League, all without an All-Star ace. During the 2016 Opening series, Buck and the pitching staff, proved once again that they can still have great outing without an ace.
The O’s struck out 35 batters against the Twins in the opening series, most since Buck took over as Manager in 2010. This was also the second time the O’s swept the Twins in a series, the first happening in 2012. Chris Tillman was the Opening Day starter but only pitched two innings due to two rain delays. Tilman didn’t waste his opportunities though, retiring all 6 batters he faced and struck out the last 5. Five more relievers would be used and a total of 10 strikeouts came between them. Another example of Buck knowing what buttons to push for his bullpen.
Game two seen the newly acquired Yovani Gallardo take the mound. Gallardo didn’t disappoint sitting down 4 batters in 5 innings. Four relievers were used, who came up with 8 strikeouts between them.
Brad Bach, Mychal Givens, and Zach Britton played in the first two games and between them they accounted for 10 strikeouts in 8 innings of work. If both games are indication of what to expect, Givens will be the set-up man for either Britton or O’Day to close out the game. Britton finished with a save, only allowing 1 hit. Darren O’Day performed in all three games and closed out the series with a save, striking out all three batters he faced. In three games O’Day has a save, hold, and is second on the team with 6 strikeouts. O’Day performance solidified his 4-year $31 million dollar deal he signed this past winter.
Buck has always made sure that the bullpen was filled with versatility. Despite only having two left handed pitchers, the pen might be better than it’s ever been. O’Day proved that he can extend his duties to closer, in case Britton is not available. Givens looks to be a solid set-up man for the future, but most importantly, the starting rotation showed promise.
When Ubaldo Jimenez made his debut with the Orioles after signing 4-year $50 million dollar deal, Orioles fans were not satisfied. In his first 5 starts, Jimenez went 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA, allowing 33 hits, 20 runs, and 5 home runs (2 in his first start). Fan still have not forgotten that horrific start from two years ago but I think Jimenez may have found his groove for this season. Thursday night, he pitched 7 innings, retiring 12 of the 14 batters he faced with 9 strike strikeouts.
Jimenez had a solid start to the season last year, with a similar stat line but finished 12-10 in 32 appearances. Trend show that Jimenez is set to have his lowest ERA since 2013 but only time will tell as of now, the O’s look to have a solid year on the mound.