Who would have thought that the Baltimore Orioles would be tied for the second best record in all of baseball 38 games into the season? Buck Showalter’s club has an American League East leading (25-14) record, and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The man who deserves the most praise for the Orioles great start, is their up and coming centerfielder, Adam Jones. Jones leads the O’s in nearly every offensive category with his .296 batting average, 13 homeruns, and 26 runs batted in. But let’s not overlook Jones’s ability to play gold glove caliber defense that’s drawing comparisons to Torii Hunter’s great defense in his prime of course.
Jones is just one of the many bright spots for a surprising Orioles team, however.
It has been a long time since the Orioles have had a solid pitching staff to compliment a dominant bullpen. But 38 games into the season, both their bullpen and starting pitching are clicking on all levels. Players like Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Jim Johnson, and Pedro Strop have been the core pieces of a dominant Orioles pitching staff.
Can those four players continue to be successful, though?
My gut feeling says no, considering that Jason Hammel has never had an ERA lower than 4.33 coming into the 2012 campaign, but then I realized that all four of these flamethrowers are just about to enter their primes. They are all under 30 years of age, and still have room for improvement. It’s not like they’re all 35 years old and career journeymen, they are young pitchers who just need a chance to flash their stuff.
Through seven starts, Hammel is (4-1) with a 2.68 ERA, but Wei-Yin Chen is right on his tail with a (4-0) record and 2.45 ERA. When those two have finished their jobs, they hand the ball over to the dynamic duo of Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson. The 27 year old Strop is (3-1) with a 1.23 ERA in 16 appearances. Then to lockdown the win, Jim Johnson takes the hill as the Orioles closer. In 17 appearances, Johnson has been lights out, recording 14 saves with a 0.48 ERA. Those four pitchers lead an Orioles pitching staff that has a 3.42 ERA, second in the American League, and a bullpen ERA of 1.56, first in the American League.
Maybe baseball is finally back in Baltimore, but let’s not jump back on the bandwagon yet. The Orioles have had some great starts in recent years only to end up in the cellar by season’s end. The second wild card spot does add some hope to the O’s playoffs chances, but they still have 124 games to play and we have to assume that the Red Sox and Yankees will get hot soon.