After splitting the first two games of the month in Chicago, the O’s have 27 games remaining on the May schedule.
Sunday May 1st - Monday May 2nd @ Chicago (Split)
Tuesday 3rd - Thursday 5th @ Kansas City
Friday 6th - Sunday 8th vs. Tampa
Monday 9th: Off
Tuesday 10th - Thursday 12th vs. Seattle
Friday 13th - Sunday 15th @ Tampa
Monday 16th - Tuesday 17th @ Boston
Wednesday 18th - Thursday 19th vs. New York
Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd vs. Washington
Monday 23rd: Off
Tuesday 24th - Thursday 26th vs. Kansas City
Friday 27th - Sunday 29th @ Oakland
Monday 30th - Tuesday 31st @ Seattle
1) Of the remaining 27 May games, 14 are on the road, and 13 at home.
1a) There are 10 division games in May, split evenly between home and road. The O’s entered May at 5-5 in Ddivision play, and you would like to see Baltimore end this month .500 or above against the East.
1b) It will be interesting to see how the O’s handle their first West Coast trip.
2) With only two days off this month, the bullpen will be tested. The starters need to provide innings, and the bench is going to need to be utilized to provide rest to the regulars.
3) Heading into KC, the O’s are 22nd overall in baseball in runs, and 27th overall in on-base %. I’ll be disappointed if those numbers are not closer to the middle of the pack by the beginning of June.
4) The O’s are 12th overall in Quality Starts, but just 25th overall in ERA (4.50). I anticipate that ERA decreasing.
5) I believe Hardy will rejoin the O’s for the home series against Seattle, if not before.
6) I had hoped that Matusz would be ready to return sometime between the series at Tampa, and at Boston in the middle of the month. However, my current guess is that his first start of the year is against Washington at home.
7) When Matusz does return, Bergesen or Tillman will depart the rotation. If I’m right about Matusz coming back to face D.C. at home (20th-22nd), that means Bergesen and Tillman should both get 3 or 4 more starts. Each outing effectively becomes an audition.
7a) If Tillman pitches well enough to stay in the rotation, I would like to see Bergesen stay on the pitching staff out of the bullpen. My guess though is that the O’s would prefer either Bergesen or Tillman to continue to starting every 5 days at Norfolk.
8) The O’s have been using an 8 man bullpen, and a 3 man bench. When Hardy and Matusz return, I’d like to see the following:
Rotation: Matusz, Guthrie, Arrieta, Britton, Tillman
Bullpen: Gregg, Uehara, Gonzalez, Johnson, Berken, Accardo, Bergesen
Bench: Fox, Andino, Pie, Izturis
8a) If Tillman goes back to AAA, obviously Bergesen is in the rotation, and I’d keep Rapada in the pen.
9) Arrieta will go into his start tomorrow with a First Strike % of 61.9%. I think that is a key number for him, and I’m interested to see where that number is at the end of May. The other thing I will be looking at with him are his pitch counts. Of his six April starts, he only pitched over 100 pitches once. Curious to see if that pattern changes.
10) Wieters’ Isolated Power (ISO, Slugging - Avg) is a career high .215. His BB % (Walks / PA) is also a career high at 10.1%. Does he maintain those levels? He has played in 24 of the O’s 27 games. Does he get additional rest in May? Does he move up in the lineup? Wieters currently has a .833 OPS vs. LHP, does that improvement continue?
11) In April I thought we saw Jones regularly playing harder, and providing better defense then he had shown the past two years. While he is on pace for 30 homers, his OPS is currently just .691. (Career .743) Right now that differential is primarily being made up by his .228 batting average (Career .271). Jones has had 4 walks in his last 10 games. As always, we will be looking to see what happens with his plate discipline. If that improves (in conjunction with his effort and improved glove) there will be an awful lot to like.
12) With his HR, 2 singles, and a walk last night, Lee improved his OPS by 67 points. A good reminder that the season is still young. I do think we will end May with a clearer understanding of how much Lee and Guererro will be able to help the O’s this year.
13) Reynolds currently has a .604 OPS (career .808). He is currently projected to finish the year with 42 doubles and 18 homers. I expect we end May with his slugging % (currently .352) closer to his career average (.478).
14) I think Jim Johnson has had some of the best stuff of his career so far this year, but he has still allowed 3 homers and 5 bb’s in his 13.1 innings of work. I’d like to see him put together a stretch of consistently positive outings.
15) Despite hits in 8 of the past 10 games, Markakis has had just 1 xbh in that span. In an Orioles Hangout message board thread today, I again stated I believe he is the O’s best hitter. As poor as the initial 27 games have been for Markakis offensively is as good as the next 27 games can be. The O’s need him to get hot and perform like the All-Star caliber talent he is.
16) You have to be happy with what you have seen from Britton so far. In his initial 6 major league starts, he is 5-1 with a 2.63 era. His OPS against is .638, and he has a G/F ratio of 1.30. It will be interesting to see how he responds when he faces some adversity. In 4 of his 6 starts, he has allowed 3 walks. This needs to improve.
17) Brian Roberts has played in each of the O’s first 27 games. When Hardy returns, the O’s can again have both Andino and Izturis on the bench. With Roberts and Hardy both being injury risks, I think there is some merit for that. It only has value though if you use the bench and give Roberts additional rest. I’m glad that Roberts is showing again he can play everyday (like he did in the 2nd half last year, and even through sore hamstrings now). That said, Roberts is 33 and you want him to be productive for the remainder of his contract. The O’s should be finding him some extra rest.
18) I picked the O’s to finish 83-79, and in 4th place in the division, and I still think that is where they will wind up. However, until the O’s are eliminated, the focus should remain on winning games and seeing where you wind up. Currently the O’s are 13-14 overall and in 3rd place in the AL East, 4.5 games behind NY, and 2 games out of the wild card. Where will Baltimore be on 6/1?
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