The Orioles Second Season: Things to Watch
For the third time since 2012, the Orioles have 50 wins at the All-Star break, leading the AL East with a 51-36 record. This is the best first half of the season for the O’s since 1997, when they were 55-30 on July 10th. Now that the second season is here, what should we expect from the O’s?
Manny has played equal amount of games at shortstop and third base, while I consider him as the best third basemen in the league, he is finally getting opportunities at his natural position. JJ Hardy’s hairline fracture in his foot was the reason why Manny was able to play shortstop. Since July 1st, Manny has been back at the corner with the return of Hardy, also playing third base in the All-Star game. Manny at the plate is what has put him into MVP consideration, leading the O’s in hits, batting average, and on-base percentage.
Another Orioles’ All-Star. Trumbo has already exceeded everyone’s expectations this year, leading the league in home runs with 28. Trumbo is proving that Camden Yards is a hitter’s paradise. Like Nelson two years ago, Trumbo is having a career year after leaving his previous team, and if it continues, he’ll see a nice payday like Nelson. For now, O’s fans can hope that this hot streak will continue.
Tillman has somewhat been going under the radar. He didn’t make the All-Star game despite being 3rd in the AL with 12 wins. Tillman is on pace to have the best season of his career, which O’s fans have been waiting for since 2012. While Tilman is only 28, the desire for an ace has made O’s fans impatient. Tillman is showing that he can be that guy, leading the team in strikeouts and the top ERA.
The Rest of the Rotation
After Tillman, the rest of the rotation is stressful. No other starter has more than 5 wins or a sub-3.00 era. Ubaldo Jimenez still hasn’t proved his worth and Yovani Gallardo has only played in 9 games with a stint on the disabled list. Looking for a bright spot outside of Tillman is like searching for sunlight in a coal mine, but Buck has not let the rotation hinder the O’s. Hopefully this issue will be resolved come playoff time.
Also known as “Buck’s Darling Child” has held down the fort on the mound. Brad Bach and Mychal Givens have more wins than every starter except Tillman, both 6-1. Zach Britton appeared in his second All-Star game as a closer, leading the MLB in saves with 27. Along with the bats at the plate, the bullpen has been one of the most consistent aspects of the Orioles during the Buck Showalter era. Always can depend on the bullpen.
Adam Jones as Leadoff
When Nick Markakis left Birdland for the Atlanta Braves, he also took the leadoff bat with him. Last season the O’s struggled to find a consistent leadoff hitter but thanks to Adam Jones, the leader of the Orioles for last 4 years, that search is over. In 42 games at the leadoff spot this season, Jones has 56 hits, 12 HRs, 34 RBIs, and a .308 batting average, much better than his .222 batting average at the 3rd batting spot.
The Chase for the Pennant
As of now, it the Orioles look like they will be able to sustain their position as top dog in the AL East. The biggest concern, like previous years, is whether or not the pitching will be able to hold up but in the 2014 AL Championship, it wasn’t the pitching that stopped the O’s from advancing to the World Series. Consistency at the plate will be pivotal just as much as the pitching needs to get better. With Jones at the leadoff and Manny showing power it has made the Orioles lineup that more dynamic, but will it stay consistent.