Are the Orioles Finished?

The Baltimore Orioles are one of the surprising teams in MLB in 2012, having gone 32-26 through Friday.  The O’s sit one game back of Tampa Bay in the AL East and they are tied with the Yankees for the Wild Card lead.

Baltimore started hot out of the gate, going 14-9 in April, thanks in large part to the 3.03 team ERA that their pitching staff posted in the first month of the season.  Things have changed since April, though, as the team ERA rose to 4.16 in May (though they did finish 15-13 in May), and it is up to 5.02 in June, while the team is now 3-4 this month after losing three straight games.

You can’t blame the pitching  entirely for the recent slide, though.  The offense is 19th in MLB in team average (.247) while leading the majors in strikeouts with 487, thanks in no small part to Robert Andino (59), Chris Davis (55), Mark Reynolds (46), and Adam Jones (42).  While the O’s struggle to make contact, they can mash, as shown by their 80 home runs (3rd in MLB) and a .733 team OPS (9th in MLB).

The rotation is currently in flux due to Jake Arrieta’s recent struggles.  The young right-hander is 2-8 with a 6.32 ERA.  While Arrieta was solid in April (1-2, 4.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .216 BAA), but he was miserable in May (1-4, 6.17 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, .306 BAA), and attrocious in June (0-2, 13.50 ERA, 1.96 WHIP, .342 BAA).  He will go to Triple-A with Tommy Hunter coming back, but the club has had great contributions from Jason Hammel, Wei-Lin Chen, and Brian Matusz to this point.

Adam Jones was just extended, Dylan Bundy has pitched like the the greatest pitching prospect in years, and the Orioles have a group of solid prospects in Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Nick Delmonico, and others.  The future is bright in Baltimore, but this probably isn’t the year.

Baltimore has dealt with a lot of injury issues.  Nolan Reimold was fantastic before back issues set in, Brian Roberts is and has been out with a concussion, and Nick Markakis is now out through the month of June due to a broken right hamate bone.  Add in Matt Lindstrom’s finger injury in the bullpen, Tsuyoshi Wada being lost for the year before he ever really got started, and the lack of contact skills in the lineup, and the luck seems to be continually going against them.

Much like the Pittsburgh Pirates temporary resurgence in 2011, the Orioles temporary return to glory has been very cute.  However, it just isn’t meant to last this year, but the future remains bright…if that sounds familiar to Orioles fans…

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