After being swept by Tampa, and losing 5 of their last 6 games; the Baltimore Orioles are 14-19 overall, and in last-place in the American League East.
While the O's are 5.5 games behind New York, they are only 1.5 games behind Boston for 3rd. Looking at the division standings matters little though, if Baltimore does not start improving their own play.
With 20% of the season now over, the O's currently rank:
21st overall in runs
25th overall in batting average
27th overall in on-base %
20th overall in slugging %
29th overall in era
20th overall in quality starts
23rd overall in whip
25th overall in baa
To start the year, I predicted the O's to finish 83-79. I do think a 69-60 finish is within reach for this team, but Baltimore can not dig any further of a hole.
I predicted the O's to finish with a 4.20 era. Currently they stand at 4.78. Matusz's return will help, but his return alone can not make up that difference.
The O's scored 613 runs in 2010. I predicted the O's to increase that by 115+ runs (meaning 728 and above) in '11. Currently Baltimore has scored 128 runs. (128 / 33 = 3.88 runs per game.) 728 predicted – 128 scored = 600 runs to go. 600 / 129 games = 4.65 runs per game.
A return from Hardy will help. Improvement to expected levels from Markakis, Roberts, Lee, and Reynolds will as well. Jones and Wieters raising their game, can as well.
The remaining May schedule is:
10th - 12th vs. Seattle
13th - 15th @ Tampa
16th - 17th @ Boston
18th - 19th @ New York
20th - 22nd vs. Washington
24th - 26th vs. Kansas City
27th - 29th @ Oakland
30th - 31st @ Seattle
I believe the O's need to go 12-9 during this stretch to end the Month. To get there, my expectation would be 2 of 3 vs. Seattle, 1 in Tampa, 1 in Boston, 1 in New York, 3 over Washington, 2 over KC, 1 in Oakland, 1 in Seattle. That is plenty doable in my eyes.
If the O's play under .500 during these 21 games, they will likely enter June buried in the standings. If that occurs, June and July will solely be about auditioning the non-core (particularly those with expiring contracts) as we approach the non-waiver deadline.
If the O's obtain the 12 wins I believe they need, and expect they will – then they will enter June at 26-28. Still a couple of games under .500, but right around the preseason expectations of most.
My Questions / Thoughts for the rest of May:
1) When Matusz returns, who leaves the rotation – Bergesen or Tillman?
2) Will Scott get an occasional start at 1st, allowing Pie additional ab's in LF?
3) When Hardy returns, I would expect Rupe to be removed from the roster, is it anyone else?
4) Tatum has a .539 OPS in his 55 ab's at Norfolk. Despite the fact he isn't hitting at AAA, and despite the fact that he had trouble throwing out runners in Baltimore last year; I expect that when he gets off the DL the O's will likely promote him.
5) If the O's do not promote Tatum, the other option will be John Hester. If the O's think Hester is a better defensive Catcher vs. Fox, they might as well make the move. Showalter is not comfortable using Fox behind the plate, and that is only compounding the issues. Showalter lacks confidence in playing Fox, Fox doesn't get the regular time he needs to improve.
6) If Fox is going to stay on the roster, he has to also get some time at 1st, 3rd, and LF (know he has had a couple of starts there.)
7) Going back to Hardy's return, will the O's be comfortable with getting rid of Izturis? Part of the reason Baltimore carried both Izturis and Andino as reserves, was because of the injury concerns to both Roberts and Hardy. Even when Hardy returns, those concerns will still be there. However, if Izturis is not going to be used at all, he is just taking up room.
8) Who at the AAA and AA levels can help the roster?
8a) Potential bullpen arms: VandenHurk, Castillo, Hendrickson, Worrell, Gambino, Pelzer, Simon, Bascom, Klein, Gamboa – Do any of these arms earn a promotion? Does whoever left the rotation for Matusz (Bergesen or Tillman) stay with the O's in the bullpen?
8b) Reimold's OPS over his last 10 games is .823. If he gets going, can he force his way back to Baltimore?
8c) Snyder's OPS is currently .875. If he's hot over the next 20 games, and Guererro ends May with his OPS under .700, do the O's decide to get an extended look at Snyder? (For the record, I find this highly unlikely.)
9) Things tend to average out over 162 games. Do the O's offensive players that are underperforming, end the month closer to their expected levels of performance?
Enough of the season has gone by to have legitimate questions. By the end of the Month, 33% of the year will be in the rear-view, and we will have more definitive answers.
Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board