Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jackson Beats Berken In Pitchers' Duel

After the last couple of games with Matt Wieters behind the plate, today Gregg Zaun (who I still like, and I think could be a very effective back-up) will be out there with Wieters DH'ing. At first I thought that Wieters was sitting, and was a little less excited to watch the game. WIth the way Luke Scott has been hitting, he's staying in the line-up and playing left with Nolan Reimold getting the day off. Ty Wigginton and Robert Andino are giving Melvin Mora and Cesar Izturis some rest as well.

The O's are finishing up their four-game series with the Tigers having already guaranteed themselves at least a split. Jason Berken goes for the Birds - it's his second start and the first time I'll be seeing him pitch - against Edwin Jackson, who has found some command (2.3 BB/9 this year, improving from 3.8, 4.9, and 6.2 BB/9 the past three years) and much improves results (2.58 ERA, 3.49 FIP)
  • Both pitchers record quick first innings.
  • Berken is a pretty small right-hander. He's listed at 6'0", but there's no way that's accurate. He gets OK movement on his low-90's fastball, but does a nice job pounding the zone and mixing his pitches. The third time throught the line-up probably won't be very pretty though, as they'll already have seen everything he has to offer.
  • After a quiet first three innings, Curtis Granderson takes Berken deep in the 4th to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
  • Nick Markakis picks up the O's first hit, lining a single to left.
  • Jackson is just mowing these O's hitters down. Low to mid 90's fastball and a sharp slider - both of which he's shown excellent control over. With Zumaya waiting in the pen jsut in case.
  • Berken matched him almost pitch for pitch, and will be taken out for Danys Baez in the eighth. Jason's final line was 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K, and though he didn't look particularly impressive he got the job done. Now he just needs some offense.
  • Baez gives up a walk and a double to make it 2-0 Detroit. That seems like a huge lead today.
  • Wigginton leads off the 8th with a ground-rule double into left-center field. O's can't get him in though.
  • Mark Hendrickson gets some work in the ninth and also gives up a run on a walk and a single.
  • Adam Jones draws a two-out walk against closer Fernando Rodney, but Markakis grounds back to the mound to end the game.
  • Two hits and two walks is all the O's get on the day, as the lose once agian on a Sunday 3-0. It's off to the West coast now.
Read more ...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

O's Fall To Hard Throwing Tigers

Not a full live blog today, but just some observations about the O's-Tigers game:
  • Justin Verlander throwing 98 mph effortlessly is absurd. And then he mixes in a big hook. Filthy.
  • Guthrie throws one of the best sliders I've seen from him this year to strike Dane Sardinha swinging. Then he gives up a home run to Clete Thomas, of all people. It's been an up and down season for Guts (mostly down thus far).
  • Nick Markakis has the first nice swing I've seen from him in a while, and lines a double into the left-field corner. He hasn't looked good recently - and the walks are down - but maybe he's snapping out of it a bit.
  • Matt Wieters with his first major league hit, driving a 96 mph fastball over Curtis Granderson's head in dead-center for a triple. How many catchers have had there first hit be a triple?
  • And he scores his first run as Nolan Reimold singles up the middle to cut Detroit's lead to 3-1.
  • The O's load the bases with no outs, but Adam Jones grounds into a double play (pitcher to home to first) and Markakis strikes out on three pitches.
  • Luke Scott hits a two-run homer to tie the game. That's 6 home runs in 4 days for Luuuuke.
  • Matt Wieters battles through a tough at bat - fouling off several 95-99 mph fastballs - before lining a ground-rule double into right-center field. After the 0-4 yesterday, he's showing why people were so excited for him in today's game.
  • Clete Thomas homers off of Matt Albers. Clete Thomas has a two home run game. Clete Thomas has a two home run game!
  • The O's line-up faced Verlander touching 99, Ryan Perry touching 97, Joel Zumaya touching 101, and Fernando Rodney touching 97. Ridiculous.
  • Guthrie pitched pretty well (6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 10 K, but 2 HR), but Matt Albers and Jamie Walker were ineffective out of the pen.
  • The O's winning streak ends, as they fall 6-3.
Read more ...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wieters Allows Teammates To Shine

It may have been Matt Wieters day at the yard on account of his much anticipated debut, but the game belonged to starter Brad Bergesen and Luke Scott. Bergesen worked quickly (game time 2 hours 12 minutes) and kept the ball down, allowing him to get into the ninth before being removed after giving up a couple hits (Jim Johnson closed it out). Berg's final line was 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K, and he looked as good as I've seen him in the majors thus far. Luke Scott provided the offense, continuing his tear since coming off the DL with two home runs - including a grand slam. That gives him 5 HR in his three games and 12 RBI, and he's even homered for the cycle with a couple of solo shots, a two-run homer, a three-run homer, and now a grand slam. He's as locked in as I think I've ever seen a player. Oh, and Wieters went 0-4. But he called a good game, apparently! Read more ...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

O's-Tigers, Another Rookie Pitcher Wins In Debut

Today I've been interviewed by Liz Farmer of the Daily Record, and Nestor Aparicio of WNST 1570 AM radio... about A nice end to a crazy day is watching David Hernandez make his major league debut for the O's.

I'll let Dave Cameron of FanGraphs take care of the intro, but also note that Chris Ray (9.39 ERA) was sent down to the minors today:
"As a travel Thursday, there aren’t a ton of major league games on the schedule for tonight. However, there is one that should be worth watching, and it will take place in Baltimore, where the Tigers are in town to take on the Orioles. Making his major league debut, David Hernandez will be starting for the O’s.

Hernandez is one of those divisive prospects who puts up numbers that dwarf his physical abilities. His numbers, especially the strikeout rates, are ridiculous. In 2007, he posted a 10.4 K/9 in High-A ball. Last year, he put up a 10.6 K/9 in Double-A. This year, he’s up to 12.46 K/9 in Triple-A. He’s consistently been at the top of the league leaderboards in strikeouts at every rung of the ladder.

However, the reaction from scouts has been relatively mild. He was a 16th round pick in 2005, and even with his minor league dominance, Baseball America left him out of the Orioles Top 10 prospects over the winter. The concerns have mostly centered around questionable command of a four seam fastball and a lack of a third pitch. His slider is definitely an out pitch, and it’s the reason for his crazy strikeout rate, but heavy reliance on a breaking ball will get scouts talking bullpen very quickly.

In some ways, the Hernandez discussions are similar to the ones that surrounded Yusmeiro Petit as he rose through the minor leagues. He also ran up big numbers with stuff that didn’t match it, and created a divide between the statistical and scouting communities. The jury may still be out on Petit to some degree, but clearly, the scouts were more correct about his abilities than the numbers were. However, a good chunk of Petit’s dominance came in the low minors, and his strikeout rates decrease as he faced harder competition. Hernandez’s numbers have done the exact opposite.

It’s worth noting that Hernandez has significantly better velocity than Petit as well, sitting 90-93 on a regular basis. He’s not a low velocity guy who is just tricking minor leaguers with junk. He’s got a major league fastball and a knockout slider. He’s not John Stephens.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Hernandez pitch against big leaguers, and the Pitch F/x data should be pretty fun to look at as well. If you’re looking for some entertaining baseball tonight, check out the O’s-Tigers, and see what side of the Hernandez fence you come down on."

And the top four O's pitching prospects are still in the minors. Things should be looking up.

Top 1:

  • Not a great start, as Hernandez walks Clete Thomas.
  • Placido Polanco flies out to center.
  • Hit-and-run bouncer by Magglio Ordonez goes into right for a single to put runners on the corners.
  • 95 mph fastball just off the outside corner gets Miguel Cabrera swinging. Very nice pitch.
  • Hernandez throws his second nice change-up for a strike - this one to Curtis Granderson. Unfortunately he losses Grandy on his second walk.
  • Brandon Inge hits a long line-drive to left, but Reimold makes the catch to leave the bases loaded.
Bottom 1:
  • Brian Roberts lines a single into right-field.
  • Adam Jones hits a long flyball - just foul - down the left-field line. Then he gets his bat broken and grounds into a double play.
  • Curveball on the outside corner gets Nick Markakis looking. Nick looks like he's not seeing the ball very well at the plate right now. Seems like he's behind in the count a lot, and his walks are down.
Top 2:
  • Hernandez blows three straight fastballs by Jeff Larish to strike him out.
  • Gerald Laird grounds out to third.
  • Ramon Santiago grounds out to first. Hernandez's fastball explodes out of his hand, and he's shown a decent change. Exciting times at the yard.
Bottom 2:
  • Aubrey Huff draws a lead-off walk.
  • Melvin Mora grounds into a double play.
  • Second game in a row Luke Scott hits a home run to center-field in his first at bat. This one was a solo shot, and it gives the O's a 1-0 lead.
  • Nolan Reimold chases a slider for the K.
Top 3:
  • Thomas pops out to second.
  • Polanco flies out to right-field.
  • Ordonez flies out to center. Looks like Hernandez has settled down a little.
Bottom 3:
  • Cesar Izturis singles to left. No double play, please.
  • Roberts flies out to short left-field.
  • Jones strikes out swinging at a slider low out of the zone.

Top 4:

  • Cabrera grounds out to short.
  • Granderson with a broken bat bloop into left for a single.
  • Inge grounds to third, with Mora starting the inning-ending double play. Nice reversal there, as Inge started both of Detroit's.
Bottom 4:
  • Markakis grounds out to second.
  • Huff gets hit on the leg with an errant breaking-ball. Thankfully he had his shin-guard on.
  • Broken play, as Huff takes off and Mora takes a pitch. Obviously Aubrey is dead meat, and gets tagged out attempting to get back to first.
  • Mora lines a single up the middle.
  • Scott flies out to deep right.
Top 5:
  • Larish lines a double into right-field after just checking his swing on a nice slider.
  • Laird walks on a pitch that was almost certainly in the strike-zone.
  • Santiago drops a two-strike bunt down, but it comes right back to Hernandez who gets the force at third.
  • Thomas singles up the middle to tie the game. Jones threw to third in time to get Santiago, but Mora couldn't handle it.
  • Polanco gets jammed and pops out to Mora in foul territory.
  • Gary Thorne has mixed up sliders and fastballs at least five times already in this game - it's mildly irritating.
  • Ordonez flies out to center to end the inning.
Bottom 5:
  • Nolan Reimold deep and gone to left-field. Hanging slider in the middle of the plate and he crushed it. His fifth home run of the year gives the O's back the lead.
  • Zaun flies out to center.
  • Izturis lines a single just in front of a sliding Granderson in center.
  • Roberts lines a single to right-center.
  • Jones flies out to right.
  • Markakis flies out to left.
Top 6:
  • Rising fastball at the shoulders gets Cabrera swinging.
  • Granderson pulls a single through the right side. He steals second and moves to third as Roberts can't handle the bounce on the throw.
  • Inge walks.
  • Larish pops out to Mora.
  • That's it for David Hernandez. With runners on the corners and two outs Dave Trembley will go to Matt Albers.
  • Laird walks to load the bases.
  • Fastball on the inside corner gets Santiago looking. That leaves the bases loaded, and keeps Hernandez in line for a win.
Bottom 6:
  • Huff lines a double into right-center.
  • Mora singles to right. Ordonez fakes Huff out that he was going to make the catch, but Huff is still able to just make it to third despite returning to the bag at second.
  • Scott flies out to left, but it's too shallow to score Huff.
  • Reimold grounds to third, with Inge making a sliding stop and starting his third double play of the game. O's get runners on but fail to score again.

Top 7:

  • Thomas walks on five pitches.
  • Polanco lays down a sac bunt to move Thomas to second.
  • Magglio grounds out to first.
  • Jim Johnson will come in from the pen to face Cabrera.
  • Miggy pops the first pitch up to Roberts to end the inning.
Bottom 7:
  • Zaun grounds to second.
  • Izturis flies out to left.
  • Roberts flies out to deep left-center.
Top 8:
  • Granderson can't check his swing on a high fastball.
  • Inge grounds to third, but Mora throws the ball away. Luckily it stayed nearby and kept Inge at first.
  • Larish draws a walk.
  • Laird grounds to third, with Mora handling the tricky hop and starting the inning-ending double play. All kinds of baserunners getting erased today.
Bottom 8:
  • Jones singles through the left side.
  • Markakis flies out to center.
  • Huff draws a walk.
  • Mora stikes out looking.
  • Luke Scott does it again. A three-run bomb into the bullpen in left-center extends the O's lead to 5-1.
  • Reimold pops out to end the inning.
Top 9:
  • Not a save situation, but George Sherrill still coming in.
  • Easy 1-2-3 inning.
Solid debut from David Hernandez (5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 3 K). He showed better stuff than I was expecting, but the control wasn't particularly good. Hernandez did his job though, and the bullpen (3.3 hitless innings) and the offense (Reimold hit a HR, and Scott hit two and drove in four) backed him up. The O's have won 6 of 7 and moved their season mark to 22-26 (a 74 win pace). The rotation now has someone to watch every day, with Guthrie, Hill, Bergesen, Berken, and Hernandez all possibly being pieces for the future (unlike the Eaton's of the world).
Read more ...

Matt Wieters Facts Day

Friday is going to be Matt Wieters Day at Camden Yards, but that doesn't mean the excitement is going to stop.

That's because next month - Saturday, June 27th - we're going to have Matt Wieters Facts Day. The O's are hosting the Washington Nationals, and the sections up top behind home plate (330-340, focusing on 334-336) will be filled with people wearing their favorite Matt Wieters Facts shirt and cheering on the future Hall of Famer. So go and get your tickets now, and we'll see you at the Yard!

And you can help organize with friends and keep up to date on news by joining Matt Wieters facts on Facebook. Read more ...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

O's Bring Out Brooms In Exciting Fashion Against Jays

Earlier this year the O's went up to Toronto and got swept. This week they returned the favor.

Game one was all about Jeremy Guthrie (hopefully) getting back on track with his 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K performance. Brian Roberts double and tripled - and scored twice - as the O's went on to win 4-1.

Game two was the major league debut of 25 year-old right-hander Jason Berken, who picked up the win in pitching 5 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K. His Pitch/FX from FanGraphs:

He threw harder than I would have expected with an average fastball velocity of 92.2 mph. It was about average movement wise, though had a little extra sink. Those blue dots (FT) are pitches classified as two-seamers, though they appear to mostly be slightly slower fastballs (90.8 mph). Berken threw a good number of change-ups, and they had slightly above average movement as well (running in on right-handed batters). It looks like he has two breaking-balls; a slightly harder slider that moves more side-to-side and a slightly slower curveball with below average movement. He seemed to mix his pitches pretty well (threw at least 7 of each) and pounded the zone (60% of his pitches, and 66.7% of first pitches were strikes).

Berken was never a big strike-out guy, but he showed good control in the minors (2.1 BB/9 this year in Triple-A, 2.35 BB/9 last year in Double-A) and avoided the home run ball (0.35 HR/9 and 0.56 HR/9), which lead to good FIP numbers (3.16 and 3.23). Looks like a potentially decent #5 starter to me.

The O's offense backed Berken up with Huff, Jones, and Reimold all going yard, leading to a 7-2 victory.

Game three was an exciting one, and I was there to see it. It didn't look good with Roy Halladay on the hill for the Jays, but the O's didn't give up.

Rich Hill was the Baltimore starter, and he just didn't have his command at all today. The six-run fourth really did him in, as he was only able to go 3.1 IP with 6 H, 7 R (6 ER), 3 BB, 3 K. Things looked pretty bleak as Doc Halladay was solid after giving up a two-run homer to Luke Scott in the second (welcome back off the DL, Luke), and the Jays lead 8-3 going into the eighth.

With 102 pitches thrown in the game, Toronto went to Jesse Carlson from their pretty good pen. Single-single-walk loaded the bases for Felix Pie (who already had a hit on the day and threw a runner out at the plate in the first). Since Carlson is a lefty, Dave Trembley went to his bench for pinch-hitter Nolan Reimold, who promptly struck out on three pitches. Chad Moeller - possibly making his last start for the O's with the Friday arrival of Matt Wieters - was plunked to force in a run. Robert Andino picked up his fourth hit of the day (!) with an RBI single. (That ended Carlson's lousy day.) Closer Scott Downs came in and gave up a sac fly to Brian Roberts. And then an RBI single to Adam Jones (which was his third hit of the day, though the first two may have been due to a freindly scorer). 8-7 now, with a struggling Nick Markakis coming to the plate. And in the clutch situation, Nick came through with a double to right to tie the game. Unfortuantely Jones was easily thrown out at home on the play (Alex Rios has quite an arm). Halladay leaves, and the O's put up 5 to tie things up. Bet someone's going to be questioning that decision.

The O's threatened in the ninth, but Reimold and pinch-hitter Gregg Zaun both struck out with two on and one out. To extra innings!

Danys Baez came out for his third inning in the 11th after a pair fo quick three-up three-down frames, and was tagged by a two-run homer by Aaron Hill. O's down 10-8, and former Bird BJ Ryan coming out for the save opportunity.

Markakis greeted him with a single, and after a Huff pop-out Ryan (who was only throwing 84-86) was removed from the game. Melvin Mora singled off of new pitcher Brian Wolfe, and then Luke Scott did the same to drive in a run. With runners on the corners and one out, Nolan Reimold came up after having already K'ed twice to leave 5 men on base. 1-1 count... line-drive to deep left, and it's into the first row of seats. Three-run homer, and the O's win 12-10! You know what that means...

Read more ...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

O's-Nationals, The Sweep Gets Dunn In

The O's go for the sweep against the Nationals today, with the Birds actually countering the Washington youngster on the mound - Shairon Martis - with one of their own in Brad Bergesen. Martis is 5-0 but has a 4.53 ERA and a 4.63 tRA, while Bergesen is 1-2 with a 5.35 ERA, a 5.29 FIP, and a 6.20 tRA. Despite those high runs allowed figures, this game has a good chance of following the last two as a pitching duel.

Bergesen's control has been pretty good (3.2 BB/9) but not quite as good as I would have expected and not nearly good enough to make up for his lack of strike-outs (4.3 K/9). He's getting a lot of groundballs (56%) but is still giving up 1.34 HR/9.

Top 1:
  • Brian Roberts swings at the first pitch of the game and flies out to left.
  • Adam Jones flies out to left-center.
  • Nick Markakis hits a long flyball to right, but Austin Kearns makes a jumping catch and is able to hang onto the ball as he crashes into the wall.
Bottom 1:
  • Willie Harris doubles into the right-field corner.
  • Christian Guzman grounds out to second, moving Harris over to third.
  • Ryan Zimmerman hits a blooper towards second, with Roberts laying out to make the catch.
  • Adam Dunn grounds out to first. Nice job by Bergesen to keep the Nationals off the board despite the lead-off double.
Top 2:
  • Aubrey Huff lines a double off the wall in right - it was about a foot from clearing the fence for a home run.
  • Ty Wigginton pops out to Adam Dunn in the foul territory near first-base, and Huff shows off his blazing speed by tagging up and taking third.
  • Nolan Reimold strikes out looking. He started off to first-base since the 3-2 fastball was outside, but the ump rung him up.
  • Chad Moeller hits a groundball up the middle, but Guzman is able to get to it and throw him out. Another lead-off double wasted.
Bottom 2:
  • Josh Willingham grounds a single up the middle.
  • Belliard strikes out swinging.
  • Kearns grounds into a double play.
Top 3:
  • Robert Andino flies out.
  • Brad Bergesen hits the first pitch he sees in major league baseball back through the box for a single.
  • Roberts draws a walk.
  • Jones flies out to short right-center.
  • Markakis drives a flyball to deep left-center, and nobody's going to rob him this time. The ball bounces off the wall and Nick is in with a two-run triple.
  • Huff grounds out to second to end the inning, but the O's have taken a 2-0 lead.
Bottom 3:
  • Wil Nieves hits a slow bouncer to the left side, with Wigginton charging to his left to scoop it and make the throw for the out.
  • Martis grounds out to short.
  • Harris squares around to bunt, and Bergesen's pitch bores down and in and hits him in the shin.
  • Guzman strikes out swinging on a good slider inside under is hands.
Top 4:
  • Wigginton flies out to left.
  • Reimold pops out.
  • Moeller hits a flyball to deep left - Willingham keeps going back on it, but it goes over his head and Chad is in with a double.
  • Andino gets the intentional walk to bring Bergesen up.
  • Another groundball up the middle, but Guzman gets to this one. The throw pulls Dunn off the bag though, and everybody's safe.
  • Roberts flies out to left to leave the bases loaded.
Bottom 4:
  • Zimmerman hits a high flyball to the track in center, but Jones is there to make the catch.
  • Dunn pops out to short, though it's Wigginton making the catch with the infield shift they had on.
  • Willingham send Jones back to the wall in center again, but the batter is retired.
Top 5:
  • Jones gets hit on the hand and jogs off to first-base. He looks OK though.
  • Adam gets thrown out stealing second, but the umpire misses the call. Markakis grounds sharply to Dunn, moving Jones to third.
  • Huff hits a groundball through a drawn-in infield to extend the lead to 3-0.
  • Wigginton pops out to first.
  • Reimold pops out to short.
Bottom 5:
  • Belliard flies out to deep center.
  • Kearns drops a double just fair down the right-field line.
  • Nieves lines a double down the first-base to get the Nationals on the board.
  • Martis lines a single to center to make it 3-2. Jones made a string throw to the plate, but Moeller couldn't hang on to it.
  • Harris flies out to left.
  • Guzman grounds out to second to end the inning.
Top 6:
  • Moeller grounds out to third.
  • Andino strikes out.
  • Bergesen is finally retired, on a groundball to third.
Bottom 6:
  • Zimmerman lines a single into left-field.
  • Dunn hits a flyball to deep center, and Jones won't be able to get to this one. He looks up as it clears the fence and gives the Nationals a 4-3 lead.
  • Willingham grounds out to short.
  • Belliard grounds to short.
  • Kearns singles into short right-center.
  • Chris Ray in fromthe pen to face Nieves, and he ends the inning with a groundout back to the mound.
Top 7:
  • Roberts singles to center.
  • Adam Jones got robbed of a home run to center yesterday, so he pulls one today. It clears the fence with plenty to spare, and the O's have retaken the lead 5-4.
  • Ron Villone takes the mound with Markakis and Huff coming up.
  • Nick pops out to third.
  • Huff works a walk.
  • Wigginton flies out to right-field.
  • Reimold draws a walk - that's only his second of the season in 41 plate appearances.
  • Moeller flies out to center to leave a couple stranded.
Bottom 7:
  • Ray gets ahead of pinch-hitter Anderson Hernandez 0-2, but end up leaving a pitch out over the plate that Hernandez lines into right for a single.
  • Harris gets jammed by a fastball inside but pulls it passed a diving Roberts for a single.
  • Guzman drops a nice bunt down the third-base line, though Wigginton is able to throw him out by a step.
  • With first-base open they're going to put Zimmerman on and bring Jamie Walker in to face Dunn. Felix Pie will also come in to play left-field.
  • Adam Dunn hits a high flyball to left that Pie will not have a play on. Grand slam, and the Nationals are back ahead 8-5.
  • Willingham lines out to left.
  • Belliard grounds out to short.
Top 8:
  • Joe Beimel takes the mound for Washington.
  • Fantastic jumping catch by Kearns in foul territory to retire Andino. Actually, it looked better than it was because Kearns overran the ball initially - he didn't really need to jump for it.
  • Pie strikes out swinging.
  • Hernandez makes a diving catch at second to rob Roberts of a hit.
Bottom 8:
  • Mark Hendrickson in to get some work.
  • He gives up a single, but keeps the score at 8-5.
Top 9:
  • Joel Hanrahan in for the save.
  • Adam Jones can't catch up to a 96 mph fastball at the letters.
  • Nick Markakis can't catch up to a 95 mph fastball right down the middle.
  • Huff grounds out to second.
Another Sunday game, another loss for the Orioles. Adam Dunn was the big hero for Washington, hitting two home runs and driving in six. First place Toronto visits the Yard for a series starting tomorrow.
Read more ...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

O's-Nationals, Koji & The Pen Do It Again

Both pitching staffs did a good job yesterday, though the Orioles were able to pull a win out in extra innings. Today might be similar, as Baltimore has their best starter thus far on the hill in Koji Uehara (4.34 ERA, 3.38 tRA) while the Nationals counter with another young pitching prospect in 23 year-old left-hander Ross Detwiler (making his second career start).

Top 1:
  • Brian Roberts flies out to center.
  • Adam Jones hits a long drive to center-field. It clears the fence by about two feet, but unfortunately Justin Maxwell has long arms and some leaping ability. The fantastic catch robs Jones of his tenth home run of the year, and keeps the O's off the board for the time being.
  • Nick Markakis grounds out to first.
Bottom 1:
  • Christian Guzman lines a splitter to the left side, but Cesar Izturis makes a great diving catch to retire him.
  • Koji mixes his pitches well and gets Nick Johnson swinging at a fastball. He set it up by throwing a splitter low the previous pitch, before elevating the heater.
  • Ryan Zimmerman pulls a single through the left side.
  • Adam Dunn hits a hard grounder to first, but Ty Wigginton makes a diving stop and tags the bad with his hand to end the inning.
Top 2:
  • O's go down in order. Detwiler reminds me a little of Adam Loewen - just with the way he throws. Lets hope he's able to stay healthier.
Bottom 2:
  • Koji gives up a lead-off single, but leaves him stranded.
Top 3:
  • Gregg Zaun gives the O's their first base-runner with a walk.
  • Cesar Izturis grounds out to first.
  • Koji draws a walk.
  • Roberts walks. The bases are now loaded, and Detwiler looks even more like Loewen.
  • Jones swings through a 93 mph fastball for strike three.
  • Markakis hits a slow roller off the end of the bat, but by the time Zimmerman gets to it he has no play. Zaun scores to give the O's a 1-0 lead.
  • Mora flies out to right to leave the bases loaded.
Bottom 3:
  • Detwiler strikes out swinging at a splitter.
  • Guzman flies out to left.
  • Johnson draws a walk.
  • Koji thought he had a K of Zimmerman with a fastball on the outside corner, but it was called a ball and Uehara subsequently walked him.
  • Dunn with a long at bat, fouling off several pitches and running the count full before hitting a hard groundball that bounces off of the first-base bag. Wigginton is able to get to it in time to keep any runners from scoring, but the bases are loaded.
  • Austin Kearns grounds out to third. Koji gets into trouble, but is able to keep the Nationals off the board.
Top 4:
  • Aflac trivia question: who is the only Oriole to lead the league in HR outright? I'm going to go with Frank Robinson.
  • Wigginton waves at a pitch (change-up, maybe) about a foot outside.
  • Reimold pops out.
  • Zaun pops out.
Bottom 4:
  • I wonder if Koji is OK, because Brian Bass is out for the fourth.
  • Willie Harris grounds out to first.
  • Bard grounds out to first, with Wigginton ranging to his left to snag it before tossing to Bass covering.
  • Maxwell grounds out to short. Bass (4.61 ERA but only 2 ER allowed in his last 20 IP) has done a good job for the team eating these middle innings recently.
Top 5:
  • Izturis lines out to center.
  • Bass strikes out looking.
  • Roberts flies out to center.
Bottom 5:
  • Detwiler grounds back to the mound.
  • Guzman ties the game with a line-drive home run to right.
  • Johnson hits a pop-up into short center-field. Izturis goes out while Jones comes in, and the ball drops between them. Looks like a little miscommunication.
  • Zimmerman strikes out swinging.
  • Dunn strikes out swinging.
Top 6:
  • Aflac trivia answer: Frank Robinson. Yahtzee.
  • Jones can't catch up to a 94 mph fastball upstairs.
  • Markakis grounds out to second.
  • Mora walks.
  • Wigginton pops out.
Bottom 6:
  • Kearns grounds out to third.
  • Harris singles to right-field.
  • Bard hits a slow grounder, but - being a catcher - the O's have plenty of time to turn the double play.
Top 7:
  • Detwiler looked pretty good in his six innings, but won't be getting a decision. Julian Tavarez in from the Washington pen.
  • Reimold grounds out to third.
  • Zaun drops a double down the right-field line.
  • Izturis grounds to short, with Guzman throwing to third to get a sliding Zaun. Base-running mistake there.
  • That's it for Tavarez. With Aubrey Huff announced as the pinch-hitter, lefty Ron Villone will take the mound.
  • Huff with a flyball to deep left-center field. The ball hits the top of the wall and bounces back onto the field, and Huff is in safely with an RBI triple.
  • Roberts grounds out to third, but the O's have retaken the lead 2-1.
Bottom 7:
  • Matt Albers making his second appearance in as many days.
  • Maxwell strikes out looking.
  • Josh Willingham, pinch-hitting, grounds out to third.
  • Guzman flies out to center.
Top 8:
  • Jones lines out to right against new pitcher Jason Bergmann.
  • Markakis grounds out to second. Nick hasn't looked particularly good at the plate the last couple of days.
  • Mora lines out to left.
Bottom 8:
  • Jim Johnson taking his usual eighth inning spot, even with a couple of left-handed batters due up.
  • The first one - Nick Johnson - draws a walk.
  • Zimmerman lines out to Izturis.
  • Dunn rips a single into right-field. Jamie Walker was ready at the start of the inning, and is still standing out in the pen. Just saying.
  • Kearns hits a ball maybe a half-inch foul down the third-base line; then JJ gets him to ground into the inning-ending double play.
Top 9:
  • Joel Hanrahan making his first appearance of the series.
  • Wigginton swings at the first pitch and grounds out to short.
  • Reimold hits a groundball to third that just eats up Zimmerman. Tough bounce, and Nolan is safe at first.
  • Zaun pops out, with Reimold being doubled off of first.
Bottom 9:
  • George Sherrill in for the save.
  • Harris gets caught looking with a fastball.
  • Bard can't check his swing on a slider in the dirt.
  • Maxwell can't check his on a fastball at the knees. Ol' Flat Breezey strikes out the side
Who would have expected another pitching duel with these two teams? Detwiler was good, and so was Koji (more or less) before he left the game with a hamstring strain (no word yet on how serious it is). The bullpens mostly did their jobs, with the O's again being the team that was able to scratch a run across when they needed it. The Orioles only pick up 3 hits, but they take the game 2-1 and have guaranteed a win in the series.
Read more ...

Friday, May 22, 2009

O's-Nationals, Birds Take It In Extra-Innings

The Beltway series starts out with a pretty intriguing pitching match-up. Rich Hill makes his second start of the year after picking up a victory in his solid debut in KC, while the Nationals send 22 year-old right-hander and top prospect Jordan Zimmermann (6.27 ERA, 5.71 tRA) to the mound. The game also features three of the top average hitters in the game with Christian Guzman's .373 BA placing him fourth, Adam Jones' .364 seventh, and Ryan Zimmerman's .353 ninth. Overall, Washington comes into the game with the major's worst record at 12-28 and the Orioles are third worst at 16-25.

In more general news, the O's have released Adam Eaton (it was expected, though perhaps not quite this soon). Eaton started out OK, but his season hasn't gone well (8.56 ERA, 6.32 tRA). I expect a youngster like David Hernandez to come up and take a rotation spot in the near future.

Anyways - as with last time, here's the Rich Hill's Pitch/FX data from FanGraphs:

I found it amusing that Hill dropped down again, once, to throw that "slider". It was to Adam Dunn, who fouled it off before drawing a walk. While it looks like his movement changed from his last start, the uniform difference of everything moving slightly to the left leads me to believe that it's an issue with the Pitch/FX system calibration on one of the two stadiums.

Statistically speaking , start #2 (5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 6 K) looked a lot like start #1 (5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K). The walks were up partly as a result of a worse ball-strike ratio (46-53 after 34-54), but he also got more groundballs which allowed him to erase a runner via a double play.

All six of his K's came on the curveball, with two looking and four swinging. Hill is still having a ton of problems with his fastball command, as only 37% of his pitches (overall) have been in the strike-zone (as opposed to around 50% as the league average) and lot of that is his fastball. The Pitch/FX didn't catch every pitch in his last start - and it's not exact - but it looks like he threw around a third of his fastballs in the strike zone and around 40% of his curveballs. The curve is a great pitch for him, but it will lose a lot of it's effectiveness if opposing batters know that Hill can't get his fastball over. Despite his solid first couple of starts (3.18 ERA, 3.78 FIP), Hill still has a lot to work on before he can be counted on as a long-term contributor to the rotation.

Top 1:
  • Zimmermann retires the O's in order, though Nick Markakis did put a scare into with a drive to the track in deep center-field.
Bottom 1:
  • Guzman pops out to Huff in foul territory.
  • Nick Johnson grounds out to second.
  • Ryan Zimmerman grounds out to second, with Roberts making a nice back-hand stop and a spinning throw to get him.
Top 2:
  • Aubrey Huff grounds out to third.
  • Melvin Mora grounds out to second.
  • Nolan Reimold just unloads on a fastball over the middle of the plate. O's take an early 1-0 on Reimold's second home run of the season.
  • Chad Moeller chases a slider off the plate for strike three.
Bottom 2:
  • Adam Dunn flies out to left.
  • Hill walks Josh Willingham on five pitches, with three of them not even close.
  • He goes to the breaking-ball against Ronnie Belliard and gets a couple of nice curves over for strikes before jamming him with a fastball inside. Unfortunately Belliard is able to muscle over the shortstop for a single.
  • Josh Bard grounds sharply to short, which gives the O's plenty of time to turn the double play.
Top 3:
  • Cesar Izturis, back in the line-up, flies out to left.
  • Hill strikes out swinging.
  • Roberts lines a double into the right-field corner.
  • Jones singles to left, with Roberts getting in just ahead of the throw (which wasn't held onto anyway).
  • Markakis flies out to left, but the O's have extended their lead to 2-0.
Bottom 3:
  • Justin Maxwell takes a big breaking curveball on the outside corner for strike three.
  • Zimmermann (the pitcher) swing over the top of a breaking-ball for Hill's second K.
  • As does Guzman. Hill uses the curveball to strike out the side.
Top 4:
  • Huff grounds out to second.
  • Mora strikes out looking.
  • Reimold hits a groundball up the middle. Belliard ranges over to his right to get it, but doesn't attempt a throw as Nolan is safe at first with an infield single.
  • Moeller flies out to left to end the inning.
Bottom 4:
  • Nick Johnson pulls a single through the right side.
  • Zimmerman drives a fastball just over the wall in right-center to tie the game at 2-2.
  • Dunn checks his swing and flies out to left. Show you how strong the man is that he could take a half-swing and still hit the ball 300 ft. to the opposite field.
  • Willingham draws another walk. Hill picks him off though, with Huff making the throw to second to get him as he took off.
  • Another curveball swung and missed - this time by Belliard - for the strike-out.
Top 5:
  • Izturis waves at a breaking-ball for strike three.
  • Hill strikes out swinging a well.
  • Roberts lines a single up the middle.
  • Jones flies out to deep center.
Bottom 5:
  • 3-2 curveball on the inside corner gets Bard looking. That tells you which pitch Hill feels he can throw for a strike when he needs to.
  • Maxwell grounds out to second.
  • Curveball gets Zimmermann swinging for a second time.
Top 6:
  • Markakis lines out to left.
  • Huff pops out.
  • Mora does a nice job working a walk.
  • Reimold grounds out to short.
Bottom 6:
  • Guzman grounds out to short.
  • Johnson draws a walk.
  • Zimmerman hits a slow roller to short, but the O's are only able to get the force at second.
  • Hill falls behind Dunn 3-1 and drops a nice curveball in for a strike. Dunn fouls off another one, and takes one outside for ball four. That'll end Hill's day, with Matt Albers coming in from the pen.
  • Willingham works the count full, but Albers is able to get him swinging.
Top 7:
  • Moeller hits a blooper into short left-field. Guzman ranges out and is a able to get a glove on it, but it falls in for a single.
  • Izturis tries to drop down a sac bunt - can't - and then grounds into a double play.
  • Albers will actually hit for himself, and he comes to the plate smiling. He's less happy after he strikes out swinging.
Bottom 7:
  • Three groundouts in a quick inning for Albers.
Top 8:
  • Ron Villone takes over for Zimmermann, who pitched well.
  • Jones pulls a one-out single through the left side.
  • Markakis flies out to right.
  • Huff grounds out to end the inning.
Bottom 8:
  • Jim Johnson comes out for the eighth.
  • He blows a fastball by pinch-hitter (and former Oriole) Willie Harris for the strike-out.
  • Guzman grounds out to first. Huff bobbles it, but is able to recover in time to flip to JJ covering to just get Guzman.
  • Johnson can't hold up and goes down swinging.
Top 9:
  • Jason Bergmann, who last time I checked was a starter, starts the ninth.
  • Mora greets him with a single to left-field.
  • Reimold pops out.
  • Ty Wigginton, hitting for Moeller, grounds back to the mound. Bergmann starts the inning-ending double play. Still tied at 2-2.
Bottom 9:
  • JJ is painting the corners to Zimmermann but not getting the calls. Johnson does get him to groundout though.
  • Dunn grounds out to Roberts in short right-field.
  • Willingham lines an 0-2 fastball to center for a single. It was 96 mph, but caught a little too much of the plate.
  • Belliard grounds out to short, and we're going to extra innings.
Top 10:
  • Izturis draws a lead-off walk.
  • As Felix Pie comes to the plate, lefty Joe Beimel comes in from the pen for Washington.
  • Pie drops down a sac bunt (couldn't someone else have done that - say, Jeremy Guthrie - so as not to waste a player?) moving Izturis to second.
  • Roberts grounds out to third.
  • With first base open and Markakis on-deck, the Nat's intentionally walk Jones.
  • It works, as Beimel gets Nick to chase a high fastball to leave the runners stranded.
Bottom 10:
  • Danys Baez is the new O's pitcher, and he gets Bard to groundout to second.
  • Maxwell draws a walk.
  • Austin Kearns pinch-hits and Baez gets him to ground into a double play.
Top 11:
  • Kip Wells has a 6.00 ERA, but he is 2-for-2 in save opportunities.
  • Huff grounds out to second.
  • Gregg Zaun, who came in to catch when Moeller was pinch-hit for, flies out to center.
  • Reimold flies out to left.
Bottom 11:
  • Guzman grounds out to second.
  • Johnson with a long flyball to center, but Jones is able to run it down in front of the wall.
  • Zimmerman grounds out to short.
Top 12:
  • Wigginton flies out to deep right. He just got it off the end of the bat a little bit.
  • Izturis grounds out to short, with Guzman making a spinning throw after ranging far to his left to get to the ball.
  • Baez up to hit now. This is why I hate both short benches and NL baseball. And Baez hits a slow chopper down the third-base line for an infield hit.
  • Roberts drops a double just fair down the left-field line. The ball bounces into the stands though, so Baez has to stop at third (though they probably wouldn't have sent him anyway).
  • Adam Jones with a rocket into the left-field corner. Here comes Baez as the go-ahead run (never thought I would ever type that) and Roberts as an insurance run. O's take a 4-2 lead.
  • Markakis lines out to right. He's now 0-6 on the day.
Bottom 12:
  • George Sherrill in for the save.
  • Fastball gets Dunn looking.
  • Willingham flies out to short center.
  • Belliard hits a broken-bat line-drive to short to end the game.
The O's take the first game of the series 4-2, with Rich Hill pitching OK and the bullpen throwing 6.1 scoreless innings giving up only a hit and a walk. Brian Roberts went 3-6 with a couple of runs scored, Adam Jones went 3-5 with a walk and 3 RBI (including the game winner), and Nolan Reimold went 2-5 with the HR. And even though Danys Baez got a hit and scored the winning run I still don't like NL ball. It's not like all of the pinch-hitting is particularly complicated strategically (manager play it pretty much by the book) and it results in situations like a pitcher having to hit for himself in a tie game in extra-innings. Not that pitchers hitting in general is a good thing in my opinion anyway. Except Daniel Cabrera - that's just comedy gold.
Read more ...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

O's-Yankees, O's Fall To Drop Another One

The Orioles first visit to the new Yankee Stadium has gone exactly as planned. First it was CC Sabathia shutting down the Birds as Brad Bergesen and Chris Ray each gave up four runs (in 6.1 and 0 IP respectively) in a 9-1 loss in game one of the series. Then Phil Hughes K'ed 9 in his five decent innings for New York which Jeremy Guthrie couldn't match (5 R on 3 HR in 7 IP). Danys Baez let it get out of reach giving up four runs while only getting one out, and the O's fell in game two 11-4.

Game three has Adam Eaton and his 7.93 ERA (and 5.71 tRA) trying to contain the Yankees relatively potent attack, as the O's will try to scratch some runs out against Joba Chamberlain (3.76 ERA, 5.89 tRA and 40 K's in 40.2 IP).

Top 1:
  • Breaking-ball gets Brian Roberts looking.
  • Adam Jones waves at a slider off the plate for strike one. That's the type of swing we saw a lot of last year. Jones connects with another one and lines it off of Joba, who is able to throw him out at first but may be hurt.
  • After a few practice throws, it looks like Joba's OK. That doesn't stop Nick Markakis from singling into left-field though.
  • Aubrey Huff lines a single into right, and the O's have runners on the corners with two down.
  • Maybe Joba's not OK after all. Alfredo Aceves will come in from the pen and be given as much time as he needs to warm up.
  • Melvin Mora flies out to short center to end the inning.
Bottom 1:
  • Derek Jeter lines a double off the wall in right. Nick makes a nice barehand catch of the bounce and almost gets Jeter sliding into second.
  • Robinson Cano lines a double into right-center. 1-0, Yankees. Looks like both bullpens will be getting some work today.
  • Mark Teixeira lines a double into the right-field corner. 2-0, Yankees.
  • A-Rod grounds out to third.
  • Hideki Matsui grounds out to second.
  • Nick Swisher draws a walk, after a passed ball had moved Tex to third.
  • Melky Cabrera hits a line-drive to center that slices away from Adam Jones. Two runs score, but Jones' throw is able to cut Melky down at third for the final out.
Top 2:
  • Nolan Reimold pops out to the catcher.
  • Felix Pie pops out to first.
  • Gregg Zaun works a walk.
  • Robert Andino - in there for the injured Cesar Izturis - flies out to center.
Bottom 2:
  • Fransisco Cervelli, the New York catcher, flies out to left.
  • Brett Gardner draws a walk.
  • Baltimore Chop off the plate by Jeter, but Eaton is able to throw him out.
  • Cano with a rocket into the right-field seats. 6-0, NY. Eaton had been doing a nice job keeping the ball down, but he left that fastball up and out over the plate.
  • Teixeira with an infield hit.
  • A-Rod lines out to left. At least the O's have a chance against the Yankees' pen.
Top 3:
  • Slider on the inside corner gets Roberts looking.
  • Jones singles into left-field.
  • Markakis singles through the right-side.
  • Huff flies out to deep right, with Jones moving over to third.
  • Mora grounds out to short and the O's fail to score again.
Bottom 3:
  • Matsui strikes out swinging.
  • Swisher grounds a ball up the middle for a single.
  • Melky flies out to left.
  • Cervelli grounds out to end the inning.
Top 4:
  • Reimold singles into the whole, with Jeter only being able to knock the ball down.
  • Pie pops out to A-Rod in foul territory.
  • Zaun grounds to second, with Cano making a spinning throw to get the force at second. Nice play, even though they weren't able to turn two.
  • Andino grounds out to second.
Bottom 4:
  • Eaton finally has a perfect inning, retiring the side in order.
Top 5:
  • Jon Albaladejo takes the mound to start the fifth, and gives up a home run to Brian Roberts on the first pitch he throws.
  • Jones lines out to left, with Swisher making a completely unnecessary leap to catch it.
  • Markakis grounds out to second.
  • Huff grounds out to first. The O's are on the board, but still down 6-1.
Bottom 5:
  • With two outs, Matsui takes one into the second deck in right to get the one run back. 7-1 now.
  • Swisher draws a five-pitch walk. The 95th pitch will be Eaton's last - Brian Bass will try to eat some innings.
  • Groundout to short ends the inning.
Top 6:
  • Mora lines out to left.
  • Reimold gets his second infield hit of the day on a slow roller down the third-base line.
  • Fastball tails back over the middle of the plate to get Pie looking.
  • Zaun drops a double down the left-field line. Another two-out scoring opportunity for the Birds.
  • Ty Wigginton pinch-hits for Andino (and will play short?). He pulls a double down the line, and both runners come in to score.
  • Roberts strikes out swinging this time.
Bottom 6:
  • Cervelli strikes out swinging on a good fastball running in on his hands.
  • Wiggington gets tested at short on a bouncer, and he's able to scoop it and make the running throw for the out.
  • Jeter walks.
  • Cano lines a single up the middle; he is really swinging the bat well.
  • Teixeira walks to load the bases.
  • A-Rod grounds to Mora, who steps on third for the out. Yanks threaten, but it's still 7-3.
Top 7:
  • Jones lines out to center.
  • Markakis takes a low fastball out to center to make it 7-4. That's Nick's seventh of the year, and it'll be the last pitch Albaladejo throws today. Jose Veras coming in.
  • Huff grounds out to second.
  • Mora with a high flyball to left, but Melky makes the catch at the track.
Bottom 7:
  • Bass sets New York down 1-2-3.
Top 8:
  • Reimold flies out to left.
  • As does Pie.
  • Zaun picks up his second hit of the game with a single to right.
  • Wigginton picks up his second hit with a double to left-center. Potential tying un coming to the plate.
  • Roberts hits it hard to center, but Gardner is there for the catch.
Bottom 8:
  • George Sherrill in, presumably to get some work.
  • Three up, three down go the Yankees.
Top 9:
  • Mariano Rivera and his 22 to 1 strike-out to walk ratio going for the save.
  • Adam Jones gets jammed and hits a little dribbler down the first-base line. Teixeira makes a sliding grab and throws to Mo covering for the out.
  • Markakis pops out to second.
  • Huff strikes out to end the game.
Adam Eaton got knocked around and may have cemented his exit from the rotation sooner rather than later. Brian Bass pitched well in relief, but the O's weren't able to come back all the way. It was nice to see that Wigginton can play a little short in a pinch, and Nick Markakis went 3-5 with a homer. The O's get swept in New York, and will now travel to Washington for round one of the Beltway series.
Read more ...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

O's-Royals, Hill Solid In Debut Win

Left-hander Rich Hill is making his first start for the O's after being acquired from the Cubs this past off-season. Hill had a tough 2008, walking 18 batters in 19.2 IP at the major league level before being demoted to the minors (and still not showing much control). He was very good in 2007 though, striking 183 in 195 IP with fine control (63 BB) to go along with a 3.92 ERA. That's the level of production the Birds are hoping he returns to.

As soon as it's available at FanGraphs, I'll take a look at the Pitch/FX for the game... and here it is!

Hill pretty much just stuck with the fastball and curveball, as he has in the past. That one red dot - the slider - was I believe the pitch he dropped down on to strike Jacobs out (the release point confirmed that he really did drop down on that one pitch). His fastball doesn't tail in on lefties much at all, but the curveball has some big-time movement and a 17 mph difference in average velocity from the heater. If he could work his 81 mph change-up in more - he only threw a handful - then that might make both the fastball and the curve more effective.

The curveball, especially one with big break like Hill's, is probably my favorite pitch in baseball. It's a pitch that doesn't get thrown quite as often now with the emergence of the slider, and so that gives me a little extra interest in seeing Hill succeed for the Birds. It may only be the Royals, but he got off to a pretty good start.

Top 1:
  • Brian Roberts walks on four pitches. Then he steals second without a throw. And third.
  • Cesar Izturis grounds sharply to a familiar face at short - it's former Orioles Luis Hernandez!
  • Wild pitch and Roberts comes in to score without a play. Talk about single-handily manufacturing a run.
  • Nick Markakis grounds out to first.
  • Aubrey Huff chases a high 3-2 and hits a pop-up to short right-center. The KC second-baseman ranges out for it, but the ball goes off his love and Huff gets into second with a double.
  • Melvin Mora draws a walk.
  • Ty Wigginton pops out. The O's get only the one run, but they make Kyle Davies throw 30 pitches in the inning.
Bottom 1:
  • First pitch from Hill is a fastball outside for a ball. Coco Crips works the count full and then lines a single into left-field.
  • Willie Bloomquist gets ahead 3-1, but Hill induces a groundball to Roberts who starts the double play.
  • Big 3-2 curveball gets Billy Butler looking. Only 8 of 17 pitches were strikes, but Hill gets out of the inning without any damage.
Top 2:
  • Nolan Reimold strikes out swinging, chasing a slider well out of the strike-zone.
  • Chad Moeller grounds out to short.
  • Felix Pie with a drive to deep center, but Crisp makes the catch right in front of the wall.
Bottom 2:
  • Mike Jacobs swings through a fastball for Hill's second K.
  • Jose Guillen walks.
  • Another groundball to second - this time by Alberto Callaspo - results in a double play.
Top 3:
  • Roberts pops out.
  • Izturis lines out to right.
  • Markakis strikes out swinging. Looks like Davies has settled down a bit.
Bottom 3:
  • Miguel Olivo grounds back to the mound, with Hill under-handing the ball to first for the out.
  • Luis Hernandez flies out to left.
  • Two fastballs for called strikes and a swing and foul tip on a curveball strikes out Mitch Maier.
Top 4:
  • Huff strikes out swinging.
  • Mora lines a double down the left-field line.
  • Wigginton pops out.
  • Reimold picks up his first RBI, as he serves a single to right to bring in Melvin.
  • Moeller grounds out to end the inning.
Bottom 4:
  • Crisp bloops a single to center.
  • Bloomquist lines a soft single to center with Crisp running, but Coco stops at second with a slide. Two on with no outs.
  • Butler with a towering flyball to left, but Reimold is there.
  • Hill drops a nice curveball in to Jacobs for strike one, but the runners are able to pull off a double steal without a throw. Another curveball gets him to swing and miss for strike two. Hill goes to well for a third time - and bounces it - and then a fourth to get him swinging. I guess the O's have determined that he can't handle the breaking ball.
  • They fall behind Guillen 3-0 and decide to walk him intentionally with first-base open.
  • Hanging curveball and Callaspo lines it just fair (off the chalk, infact) down the left-field line. Two runs score to tie the game.
  • Olvio flies out to leave a couple more runners stranded.
Top 5:
  • Pie bounces out to first.
  • Good curveball in the dirt gets Roberts swinging. The bottom just fell right out of that pitch.
  • Izturis drops a bunt down the third-base line and beats out the low throw to first. A passed ball allows him to get into scoring position with two down.
  • Nick makes it count with an RBI single up the middle.
  • Huff grounds out, but the O's have taken a 3-2 lead.
Bottom 5:
  • Luis lines a single over a leaping Roberts.
  • Maier lays down a sac bunt, with Hill making the throw to first.
  • Crisp flies out to center, with Hernandez tagging up and moving to third.
  • Hill gets a fastball in on Bloomquist, who hits a soft grounder to short to end the inning.
Top 6:
  • Mora gets jammed and bloops a ball into short right-field, but Callaspo robs him of a hit with a running over-the-shoulder catch.
  • Wigginton grounds out to third.
  • Reimold lines a double off the wall in left.
  • Moeller flies out to left-field.
Bottom 6:
  • Great curveball gets Butler swinging. That hook has been as advertised.
  • Hill drops down a little to get Jacobs looking at a bender.
  • Guillen pulls a single through the left side of the infield.
  • Callaspo does likewise, with Izturis making a diving attempt at it.
  • That'll be it for Hill. Danys Baez will come in from the pen to try to maintain the lead.
  • And he does, as Olivo flies out to right.
Top 7:
  • Pie bounces out to second.
  • Roberts and Izturis both fly out to left.
Bottom 7:
  • Hernandez draws a lead-off walk.
  • Maier hits a groundball to second and the O's turn their third double play of the game.
  • Fastball on the inside corner gets Crisp looking.
Top 8:
  • Markakis lines a single to left-field.
  • Huff flies out to left-center.
  • Mora grounds into the inning ending double play. O's still have the slim 3-2 lead.
Bottom 8:
  • Jim Johson in for the eighth. He retires the side in order on a couple of groundouts and a flyout to the track in left.
Top 9:
  • Moeller with a two-out single to right-field.
  • Pie hits a groundball to the right side, but Callaspo makes a diving stop. Felix beats it out though, and Moeller hustles into third-base.
  • Roberts flies out to left to leave runners on the corners.
Bottom 9:
  • George Sherrill will go for the save, though it would be nice if he had a slightly larger lead to work with.
  • Jose Guillen flies out to deep center. One down.
  • Callaspo grounds out to first. Two down.
  • And Sherrill strikes Olivo swinging at a high fastball to end the game.
O's win 3-2. Given the expectation level, I think this start was a definite success for Hill. He threw 88 pitches through 5.2 IP, gave up 2 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 6. The bullpen was solid and the offense did just enough to get the job done. The victory guarantees the Orioles at least a split in the series, with Koji Uehara going for the win tomorrow.
Read more ...

Friday, May 15, 2009

O's-Royals, Greinke Rocked For One Run

Nothing like a good baseball game to make up for a long, long day. Even after a two and a half hour rain delay.

The Orioles send Adam Eaton to the mound in the second game of their four game set in Kansas City, and the Royals counter with Zach Greinke. Greinke is having a fantastic season and is working on a 13 inning scoreless streak after having a 38 inning streak broken up earlier this year. A strike-out rate of 10 K/9 combined with a walk rate of 1.36 BB/9 and no home runs allowed results in a FIP of just 1.51 (so he hasn't even been all that lucky - his BABIP is only a moderately low .273, and batters are still only hitting .185 against him). Let's just say it was pretty smart of the Royals to sign him to a four year contract this off-season ($38 M).

Top 1:
  • Nice start for the O's as Brian Roberts draws a walk.
  • Nasty slider under Izturis' hands gets him swinging.
  • Greinke just misses outside with a 96 mph fastball after getting a 77 mph curveball over for strike two. No wonder he has an 0.51 ERA. Another slider inside gets Markakis swinging.
  • Aubrey Huff singles into short left-field.
  • Melvin Mora flies out to right, and Greinke's scoreless streak moves to 14 innings.
Bottom 1:
  • Coco Crisp grounds out to first.
  • David DeJesus singles under the glove of a diving Mora at third.
  • Billy Butler gets a slider/cut-fastball in the middle of the plate and lines it into left-field for a double.
  • Nice job by Eaton to get Mike Jacobs swinging, though the batter certainly helped him out by swinging at a high curveball.
  • Jose Guillen unloads on a hanging curveball, but luckilly he gets out in front of it and pulls it foul. Just a 420 foot strike. Next pitch he hits a little knubber that gets through the right-side of the infield for a single. Two runs score and the Royals have a 2-0 lead.
  • Mark Teahan flies out to left to end the inning. Those two runs may very well hold up though.
Top 2:
  • Luis Montanez grounds a ball up the middle for a single.
  • Nolan Reimold hits a check swing roller to short that KC turn two on.
  • Gregg Zaun does a good job laying off some tough pitches and draws a walk.
  • Felix Pie grounds out to first.
Bottom 2:
  • Pie takes a less than effecient route, but is able to run down a deep flyball to center off the bat of Alberto Callaspo.
  • Miguel Olivo also flies out to deep center.
  • Willie Bloomquist hits a soft liner to second. Relatively quick inning for Eaton.
Top 3:
  • Roberts hits a lead-off double into deep right-field.
  • Izturis strikes out swinging again.
  • Brian steals third, though the ball beat him to the bag.
  • Nick takes a fastball below the knees for a called strike, has a little talk with the umpire, and then can be seen on camera mouthing "wow" a couple of times. It was a bad call, and it may have cost him as he flies out to short left on a 3-1 pitch.
  • Huff lines a single to left to bring in the first O's run of the game.
  • Mora serves a single into right-field with Huff moving over to third.
  • Montanez puts a charge into one, but Crisp is able to run it down at the warning track.
Bottom 3:
  • Crisp pops out to short left-center.
  • Nice fastball on the inside corner gets DeJesus looking.
  • Butler grounds out to short to end the inning.
Top 4:
  • Reimold flies out to deep right-center.
  • Zaun grounds out to short.
  • Pie flies out. Still 2-1, Royals.
Bottom 4:
  • Mike Jacobs extends the KC lead with a homer to dead center-field.
  • Guillen grounds out to second.
  • Teahan lines a single into right-center.
  • Callaspo draws a walk.
  • Olvio deep and gone to left. 6-1 Royals, and with Greinke on the mound this one is pretty much over.
  • Eaton's able to get out of the inning without any futher damage, vut Mark Hendrickson is warming in the pen.
Top 5:
  • Roberts reaches first on a wild pitch strike-out, but the Orioles can't take advantage. Would you call that a 1-2-3-4 inning?
Bottom 5:
  • Eaton's still in there. He gives up a run on three singles, but hopefully he can save the bullpen a little. Though, he has already thrown 112 pitches. That'll probably be his last inning.
Top 6:
  • Three up, three down go the O's.
Bottom 6:
  • Hendrickson comes out for the sixth and retires the Royals in order.
Top 7:
  • Roberts picks up his second hit of the day, but Greinke K's a pair and leaves him stranded.
Bottom 7:
  • Hendrickson strikes out the side but also gives up a run on three hits.
Top 8:
  • Juan Cruz retires the Orioles in order.
Bottom 8:
  • Another 1-2-3 inning.
Top 9:
  • Kyle Farnsworth closes things out.
The O's lose 8-1. It wasn't exactly unexpected given the pitching match-up (Eaton: 5 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR; Greinkie: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K). Tomorrow - or later today, I guess - Rich Hill will make his Orioles debut. I'm excited to see what he can do.
Read more ...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

O's-Royals, Birds' Bats Are King In KC

Too busy to blog the whole game, so just an abbreviated version:
  • Why is Cesar Izturis - he of the .298 OBP (.299 career) - batting second? Probably because he's fast. Why bother getting more potential at bats for the better hitters by just moving Markakis up to second and putting say, Mora, in the three-hole, when you could have Izturis run really fast towards first base before going back to the dugout?
  • Jeremy Guthrie is dealing in the first inning, hitting 94-96 consistently and using his change-up, but he's not getting much movement on his pitches. Everything is coming out pretty straight.
  • Nick getting the force at second on a single to right (with a runner on first) is awesome. He's done that at least once before that I've seen.
  • Sharp slider from Guthrie to end the 3rd with a K, but he did give up two runs on a pair of long extra-base hits.
  • Not all of Huff's power from last year is gone, as he hits his 7th HR of the year.
  • 95 absolutely on the black, as Mike Jacobs becomes Guthrie's second strike-out victim.
  • Perfect hit-and-run, with Pie taking off from first and Roberts hitting a groundball though the area previously occupied by the second-baseman. Izturis - batting next - tripled them both in. I still maintain that batting him in that spot was the wrong decision, but that doesn't change the fact that the O's have a 3-2 lead.
  • Then Markakis doubles him in. Nick has to be one of the best in the league in taking that outside pitch to the opposite field. And he scores on a Mora single.
  • Tough fifth for Guthrie, as he gives up two runs on two hits and a couple base on balls. O's hold a 5-4 lead.
  • Felix Pie hustle a single to short right-field into a double. Impressive. Two outs and so the Royals intentionally walk Roberts - the lead-off hitter mind you - to bring up Izturis. And Cesar makes them pay with an RBI single. Unbelievable.
  • Long at bat by Nick ends with a two run double to deep right-field. 8-4 O's.
  • Nolan Reimold getting his first career hit in his major league debut on a groundball up the middle. He's better than Luis Montanez, and if Adam Jones is hurt then Reimold should get a chance to play.
  • The Punching Aruban makes an appearance, as Sidney Ponson comes out for the eighth (and promptly gives up a run).
  • O's win, 9-5. Guthrie wasn't particularly effective, but the offense picked him up (everyone but Zaun had a hit).
  • On the other side of the field, Billy Butler can sure hit (2-5, HR, 3 RBI).
  • Adam Eaton (7.18 ERA, 5.32 tRA) vs. Zach Greinke (0.51 ERA, 1.29 tRA) in an apparent mismatch tomorrow.
Read more ...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lefty Matzek, Possible Future Oriole?

MLB Outsider over at MVN is putting together a mock baseball draft in anticipation of the June Rule IV. I was invited to participate as the representative of the Orioles, but I wasn't able to and recommended the guys at Camden Depot instead, given their great work for the draft last year.

They made their pick at #5, and it was left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek:
"Matzek was number two on our draft board, preseason, and we were thrilled to see him still around at pick 1:5 in the draft. The lefty has everything we'd look for in a High School arm, including refined secondary pitches, control, command, poise and pitchability. Comparisons have been made to our 2008 first-round selection, Brian Matusz, and we think they fit (though Matzek could end up with a plus fastball to go with his impressive secondary arsenal)...


Fastball - Matzek sits in the low-90s with his fastball, getting good life and occasionally creeping up around 94. Though the velocity is nice, the command is equally impressive. With a little room in his frame, it's conceivable that Matzek ends up in early Clinton range (92-96) when all is said and done. Even if he stays where he is, the pitch is above-average and plus when command is taken into consideration. He doesn't add any effort to bump up to around 94, when he does.

Curveball - Matzek's curve isn't a true 12/6 breaker, but flashes plus depth and late bite and should be a plus pitch once he gets a little more consistency. It sits in the upper-70s, serving as a nice change of pace pitch and could ultimately be more devestating than his slider because of the velo differential from his fastball. There's good projection still left in the pitch.

Slider - Matzek's slider is currently his best secondary pitch, showing tight late bite and sweeping action. He throws it from the same slot as his fastball, making it difficult for the hitter to pick up. Throughout the summer, it was generally in the low-80s, and most reports from the spring have him sitting in the same range.

Changeup - Matzek shows good feel for his changeup, a potential fourth above-average offering that has some depth and fade. As he increases his feel for the pitch, it could become his most effective weapons against righties, diving down and away."
Totally fine and defensible pick, but I still remain wary of picking pitchers this high in the draft. The track-record for being worth the investment just isn't that good; especially when compared to position players. There's a lot of uncertainty after Strasburg so best player on the board it is, and Matzek may legitimately be that guy. Also, I like the Matusz-Matzek combo in successive years for silly name reasons. Read more ...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

O's-Rays, Big Day For Mr. Jones

Rich Hill pitched six shutout innings in Triple-A a couple days ago, with 7 K's, 2 hits and 3 walks. That's pretty encouraging, and Hill may be up to the big club very soon - possibly even for his next start.

In completely unrelated news, Mark Hendrickson brings his 5.13 ERA and awful 6.81 tRA (which is worst in the starting rotation and almost a full 1.5 runs worse than Adam Eaton's still bad 5.37 mark - which is, incidentally, the second best tRA in the rotation, after Koji's 3.60) to the mound for Baltimore as they host Andy Sonnastine and the Tampa Bay Rays.

With the injury to Dennis Sarfate, the best course of action to me seems to be Bob McCrory or Brian Bass demoted to the minors with Hendrickson moving to his originally anticipated role as swing-man and Hill taking his spot in the rotation.

Top 1:
  • BJ Upton hits a long flyball to left, but Felix Pie is able to make a running catch at the track.
  • Nice job by Adam Jones to cut off a Carl Crawford hits into the right-center gap, but it's not enough to keep him from getting into second with a double.
  • Evan Longoria flies out to pretty deep center-field.
  • Carlos Pena grounds to Brian Roberts, who's camped out in short right-field as part of that elaborate shift.
Bottom 1:
  • Roberts starts the O's first with a groundout to first.
  • Adam Jones goes out and hooks a breaking-ball, sending into the stands in left for his team leading seventh HR of the year.
  • Nick Markakis flies out to short left-field.
  • Aubrey Huff strikes out looking on a 3-2 fastball that paints the black on the outside corner.
Top 2:
  • Willy Aybar inside-outs a pitch into right-field for a lead-off single.
  • Ben Zobrist flies out to center.
  • Jason Bartlett pulls a double down the third-base line.
  • Gabe Kapler flies out to deep left, bringing in the runner from third.
  • Dionar Navarro lines a single to center to give the Rays a 2-1 lead.
  • Bossman Junior draws a walk.
  • Pie dives for a Crawford fliner (flyball/liner) in left but can't come up with it. Two more runs score, and CC has his second double of the day. Brian Bass is already warming up in the pen.
  • Longoria with an RBI line-drive single off the scoreboard in right. Hendrickson's not fooling anybody.
  • Pena flies out to right to finally end the inning. 5-1, Rays. Yikes.
Bottom 2:
  • Melvin Mora breaks his bat, but gets enough wood on the ball to drive it into center for a single.
  • Luis Montanez - DH'ing with Luke Scott injured - doubles into right-center. Mora comes all the way around to score, cutting the deficit to three.
  • Gregg Zaun, who's raised his average almost 100 points in his last nine games up to .210 (and a .343 OBP), brings it up further with a single to right. They send Montanez, and he's out by a mile at home.
  • Pie falls behind in the count, but is able to work a walk.
  • Izturis hits a groundball towards second, but it goes under Zobrist's glove and the bases are loaded for the top of the line-up.
  • Roberts hits a pop-up into short center. The ball drops in, but Upton is able to barely get the force at second. Zaun scores though, to make it 5-3.
  • Adam Jones is just having a fantastic season. Gets ahead in the count 3-1 and gets an 88 mph fastball right down the middle... and he doesn't miss. The line-drive rockets into the left-field stands for his second home run of the day, and the O's have taken the lead.
  • Markakis tries for one of his own, but Kapler makes the catch right in front of the wall.
Top 3:
  • Bass takes the mound for the O's to start the third.
  • Aybar greets him with a single through the right side.
  • Zobrist grounds back to Bass, who makes a nice throw to second for the force. Izturis drops the ball getting it out of his glove though, and they can't turn two.
  • Bartlett hits a line-drive towards right-field, but Huff makes the leaping catch and steps on first to double off Zobrist.
Bottom 3:
  • Huff pulls a double into the right-field corner.
  • Mora hits a hard groundball towards short. Huff may have blocked off Bartlett's view, because the shortstop couldn't handle it and the ball went into left-field. They actually wave Huff around, and he's able to score with a nice slide.
  • Montanez lines a single into left-field.
  • That'll be the end of the line for Sonnastine, who's given up 9 hits in his two innings of work. Grant Balfour, who's living up to his name with 10 walks in 11.1 IP, is the new pitcher.
  • Zaun flies out to the track in center, with Mora advancing to third.
  • Pie strikes out looking.
  • Izturis flies out to center to leave a couple stranded.
Top 4:
  • Ty Wigginton is going out to play left-field; sounds like Pie has some sort of stomach pain. He went to the hospital, but no word yet as to what's wrong.
  • Bass sets the Rays down in order.
Bottom 4:
  • O's go down 1-2-3 themselves. Quiet fourth inning.
... Fast forward four innings as nothing of much consequence occurs...

Top 9:
  • Geroge Sherrill is in for the save, and gets Crawford to ground out to third.
  • Longoria works a walk to bring the potential tying run to the plate.
  • Sherrill gets Pena looking with a fastball right down the middle.
  • Aybar with a flyball to center, but Jones tracks it down.
Mark Hendrickson was knocked around, but Brian Bass pitched 4 scoreless innings in relief, Danys Baez and Jim Johnson did their set-up thing, and Sherrill pitched a somewhat tense but effective ninth. Adam Jones provided most of the fire-power on offense, hitting a pair of home runs and driving in four. O's win 7-5, and move to just a half game behind the Rays in the standings.
Read more ...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Freel Departs From Baltimore Unnoticed

The Orioles apparently traded Ryan Freel to the Cubs for Joey Gathright, with each team paying the salary of the guy they were sending away (so unfortunately the O's didn't shed any payroll). Gathright is a career .262/.327/.303 hitter, but can at least go get 'em in the outfield. The deal at least frees the O's the headache that Freel seemed to be becoming, having complained of little playing time already. And it brings in a guy whose best skill isn't used on the baseball field:

As useless players go, I guess Slappy Joe (as he was nicknamed by Royals fans for his 38 extra-base hits in 1,311 career plate appearances) is OK. Read more ...

You Win Some, You Lose Some

I left for dinner with the O's ahead 3-1 and Koji Uehara cruising. I came back to see that they'd lost 5-3. Koji pitched another quality start (6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K) but Jim Johnson gave up a three-run home run to Johnny Damon in the seventh that was the difference in the game. While they lost the series 1 game to 2, the O's outscored the Yankees 15-14 on the strength of there 12-5 win yesterday, in which Aubrey Huff, Nick Markakis, Luis Montanez, and Adam Jones all went yard. Montanez appears to be taking more at bats away from Pie, though Felix got the start today and went 2-3 with a walk.

After taking both games of the series in Minnesota, and dropping two of three to New York, the Birds stand at 13-18 on the season. That's a 68 win pace, which conveniently enough is how many wins the team had last year.

On the bright side, Jeremy Guthrie pitched pretty well in the 4-0 loss to New York to open up that series. He only gave up a three-run home run to A-Rod in the first, and held them there through six innings while K'ing 8 and allowing 7 hits and 2 walks. It looks like he got more sink on his fastball and change-up, and threw a lot more of the latter at the expense of the breaking ball. (From Fangraphs:)

I didn't watch that game, but this might be an interesting development. So much so, in fact, that I think I'll take a look at that game now. (Just kidding. no longer lets you watch old games for free. The condensed game - which is available - seemed to show Guthrie throwing some good change-ups but also leaving the fastball up in the strike-zone a little too much. Unfortunately for Guthrie, CC Sabathia shut the O's out and he didn't get a chance for a win despite the quality start. It's something to keep an eye on in his next start.) Read more ...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hey, The Rays Did Win 97 Games Last Year

Yesterday the bullpen picked the team up after another so-so start by Adam Eaton (5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K) and the offense put 8 runs on the board - 5 via home runs by Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts. The 8-4 win broke the O's six game losing streak, and put the team in position to sweep the short two-game series today.

Things started out well, too, with Koji Uehara giving up just one unearned run through five innings to go along with 7 K's. Brian Roberts hit a two-run homer for the second game in a row, and Gregg Zaun added a solo shot of his own. Then came the sixth inning. It started with the O's third error of the day, and ended with the score tied at 3-3 after a pair of doubles. Koji was taken out with two outs in the seventh after giving up another run. Jamie Walker came in as a LOOGY to face Carl Crawford, and promptly hit him. Recently brought up Bob McCrory - who took the injured Dennis Sarfate's spot - gave up a two run single, with both credited to Uehara. Not too often will you see a guy not give up a home run, walk just one, strike out eight, and yet lose a game 6-3. The O's didn't put up much offense, with even Nick Markakis being kept off base for the first time this season.

With the split, the Orioles drop to 10-17 on the season. That ties the Cleveland Indians for the worst record in the AL. Got to take the long view folks. Read more ...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Relatively Disappointing Start For The Birds

A month into the season is a nice time to stop and look at how everyone's doing (on the O's, at least).

9-14 record
120 runs scored and 154 runs allowed for a 9-14 pythogrean record
In last place in the AL East, a half game behind the the Rays.


Gregg Zaun:
Projected: .241/.340/.374, 5 HR, .320 wOBA
Actual: .138/.254/.224, 0 HR, .225 wOBA
PrOPS: .252/.350/.317
(PrOPS is a formula for predicting what a player's batting line is likely to be in the future based on his batted balls, strikeouts, home runs and walks.)

His average is low because of a low BABIP, but he's still showing good plate discipline. The power hasn't shown up yet almost at all.

Aubrey Huff:
Projected: .280/.344/.472, 22 HR, .357 wOBA
Actual: .283/.350/.446, 3 HR, .364 wOBA
PrOPS: .284/.352/.445

Huff's hitting the ball on the ground over 55% of the time that he puts it in play, which may have something to do with the even larger drop in power than was expected. His walks have gone up though, which is a good sign for his continued value with the bat even without the home runs. Unfortunately, his glove at first has been atrocious (-33.5 runs per 150 games so far) and that's kept him as a replacement level player.

Brian Roberts:
Projected: .285/.365/.425, 9 HR, .358 wOBA
Actual: .337/.406/.484, 2 HR, .419 wOBA
PrOPS: .296/.366/.437

Roberts is only 3 of 6 on stolen base attempts, but if he keeps swinging the bat this well it won't matter. And his defense has remained only slightly below average, which is nice to see.

Cesar Izturis:
Projected: .260/.311/.327, 3 HR, .290 wOBA
Actual: .232/.274/.319, 1 HR, .290 wOBA
PrOPS: .303/.338/.413

Izturis' BABIP is .231, so that average will go up - especially given that he puts everything in play (only 3 walks and 3 K's). He hasn't hit more than 1 HR in a season since 2005 (he hit 2), so we may have seen the extent of his power production already.

Melvin Mora:
Projected: .271/.333/.418, 16 HR, .334 wOBA
Actual: .308/.379/.423, 1 HR, .416 wOBA
PrOPS: .338/.406/.511

Mora has only played in 8 games thus far due to an injury, but when he's been in there he's continued hitting like he did at the end of last year.

Felix Pie:
Projected: .267/.322/.409, 10 HR, .323 wOBA
Actual: .157/.246/.216, 1 HR, .221 wOBA
PrOPS: .256/.331/.388

Pie's defense hasn't been as advertised yet (it's only been about average in LF) but his bat hasn't been as bad as it's looked. A .194 BABIP despite a 23% line-drive rate will definitely not continue, and his increased walk rate (from 7.8% to 10.5%) and decreased strike-out rate (from 34.9% to 27.5%) are both good signs. He needs to be given plenty of at bats to work through this.

Adam Jones:
Projected: .273/.325/.425, 15 HR, .331 wOBA
Actual: .361/.432/.627, 4 HR, .470 wOBA
PrOPS: .300/.380/.513

Jones' has more than doubled his walk rate (from 4.6% to 9.8%), and that's backed up by a drop in percentage of pitches out of the zone that he's swung at (from 36.2% to 25%). He's probably not going to keep an OPS over 1.000 up, but there's no reason the break-out season won't continue. A .300/.380/.510 season with even average defense would make Jones a 5 win player.

Nick Markakis:
Projected: .301/.401/.493, 20 HR, .395 wOBA
Actual: .379/.462/.586, 3 HR, .450 wOBA
PrOPS: .309/.408/.489

Walks are still up but he's cut the strike-out rate from 19% to 15%. Line-drives up to 23.7% (from 21.1%). His PrOPS line is basically his line from last year (.306/.406/.491), when he might have been lucky on his BABIP. Just a great hitter that keeps improving year after year.

Luke Scott:
Projected: .262/.343/.476, 23 HR, .355 wOBA
Actual: .286/.382/.468, 3 HR, .360 wOBA
PrOPS: .302/.395/.494

Like several other Orioles, Luke is walking more and striking out less, and drilling the ball when he does make contact (24.2% line-drive rate).

Ty Wigginton:
Projected: .271/.334/.469, 20 HR, .350 wOBA
Actual: .207/.244/.256, 1 HR, .233 wOBA
PrOPS: .271/.302/.378

Wigginton isn't swinging more than he used to; he isn't getting thrown a lot of strikes; and he's making a ton of contact. That makes his 4.7% walk rate even more confusing, though it's likely due to his putting the ball in play early in the count. .225 BABIP will come up, as will his 3% HR/FB rate. He probably needs to change his approach some though.

Chad Moeller:
Projected: .229/.281/.344, 1 HR, .286 wOBA
Actual: .292/.346/.583, 1 HR, .390 wOBA
PrOPS: .314/.361/.512

Moeller wasn't brought in to hit this well, but it's certainly a nice bonus.

Ryan Freel:
Projected: .254/.327/.353, 3 HR, .321 wOBA
Actual: .133/.350/.133, 0 HR, .270 wOBA
PrOPS: .167/.360/.217

Freel's not hitting well, and he may not be seen in an O's uniform again. Wouldn't be a big loss.

Robert Andino:
Projected: .235/.281/.342, 1 HR, .292 wOBA
Actual: .375/.412/.375, 0 HR, .403 wOBA
PrOPS: .269/.311/.341

Life's nice when you have a .462 BABIP. Replacement level back-up infielder.

Luis Montanez:
Projected: .274/.326/.432, 2 HR, .333 wOBA
Actual: .158/.227/.263, 0 HR, .168 wOBA
PrOPS: .247/.317/.320

Maybe Luis shouldn't have talked so much about being over-looked for a spot on the team. Pie has shown the better underlying stats, and has the higher ceiling.

Total offense:
Projected: .272/.342/.429, 160 HR, .338 wOBA
Actual: .275/.350/.417, 20 HR, .349 wOBA

The O's are walking at a decent clip and really doing a good job putting the ball in play. The guys that are really hitting well are the ones that are the major parts of the team's long term plans.


Jeremy Guthrie:
Projected ERA: 4.15
Actual ERA: 5.20
tRA: 5.70

Strike-outs down and walks up for a second year in a row. Not good.

Koji Uehara:
Projected ERA: 4.70
Actual ERA: 4.50
tRA: 4.04

Control is as advertised (1.80 BB/9). Home run problems too (1.5 HR/9). The O's best starter right now.

Mark Hendrickson:
Projected ERA: 5.13
Actual ERA: 5.79
tRA: 7.82

Control has been bad (4.63 BB/9) and he's giving up a ton of long-balls (2.70 HR/9 - that's 60 over 200 IP). Can't wait until Rich Hill comes up to take his spot.

Adam Eaton:
Projected ERA: 5.30
Actual ERA: 7.17
tRA: 3.39

Giving up a .408 BABIP which is contributing greatly to that high ERA. Has been better than anyone had any right to expect.

Alfredo Simon:
Projected ERA: 5.43
Actual ERA: 9.95
tRA: 15.64

Gave up 5 HR in 6.1 IP, and now is out for the year. Too bad for Simon, but probably a good thing for the team.

Brad Bergesen:
Projected ERA: 5.18
Actual ERA: 5.59
tRA: 7.46

3 ER in 6 IP today not included in the stats (lowers his ERA to 5.17). Has to keep the ball on the ground (over 60% groundball rate so far) and limit the free passes (BB/9 below 3 for far) to have success.

George Sherrill:
Projected ERA: 3.79
Actual ERA: 4.66
tRA: 4.63

He's not a closer; he's a left-handed reliever (.237 OPS by lefties vs. 1.137 OPS by righties). The split from last year isn't as extreme (.534 vs. .787), but the point still stands.

Jim Johnson:
Projected ERA: 3.85
Actual ERA: 3.00
tRA: 4.69

The BABIP and HR/FB have corrected, but JJ has upped his K's (from 5 to 7 per nine) and lowered his walks (from 3.7 to 3.0 per nine). The 32.1% line-drive rate will come down and so Johnson will really be able to establish himself as a solid set-up man. His fastball is averaging 94 mph and has above average movement, and that will serve him well.

Chris Ray:
Projected ERA: 4.10
Actual ERA: 7.56
tRA: 3.64

10.8 K/9 is very nice, but he still needs to work on his control (4.3 BB/9). The absurd .491 BABIP will come way down, at which point maybe Dave Trembley will make the smart move and switch his role with Sherrill's. His fastball velocity is down from where it used to be, but it has more movement on it. Same thing with the slider and the splitter. He had a rough couple of games to start the year, but has been almost lights out since.

Danys Baez:
Projected ERA: 4.70
Actual ERA: 3.00
tRA: 2.46

Didn't see it coming, but Baez has been fantastic. 8.25 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 62.5% groundball rate. 93 mph fastball with more movement than he had on it in 2007. Still not worth $6.2 M.

Jamie Walker:
Projected ERA: 4.72
Actual ERA: 2.08
tRA: 1.27

Only gotten 4.1 IP so far this year, but he hasn't walked a batter or given up a HR and has 5 K's.

Dennis Sarfate:
Projected ERA: 4.37
Actual ERA: 6.39
tRA: 7.13

Walks are way down (7 BB/9 to 5 BB/9) but still bad, but and the K's fell even more (9.7 K/9 to 7.1). Maybe he's hurt, since his velocity was really dropped off from 94.3 mph to 91.4.

Matt Albers:
Projected ERA: 4.38
Actual ERA: 7.71
tRA: 5.37

A 1-1 strike-out to walk ratio just will not cut it, and he's not even getting groundballs anymore (just 22.2%).

Radhames Liz:
Projected ERA: 4.73
Actual ERA: 67.50
tRA: 19.19

4 outs, 8 hits, 10 runs, 2 walks, and a K. Awful.

Brian Bass:
Projected ERA: 4.58
Actual ERA: 6.35
tRA: 6.00

The .347 BABIP and 33.3% HR/FB rates have to come down, and his 8.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 have been good. Doesn't throw hard, but is getting a lot of movement on his fastball. Bass seems to be a decent enough arm at the back of the pen.

Total pitching:
Projected ERA: 4.73
Actual ERA: 6.01
tRA: 5.50

The pitching has been pretty bad, but that's largely a result of a .343 BABIP (which is easily the worst in baseball; LAA is next at .329) and a 1.83 HR/9 (between PHI at 1.96 and TEX at 1.52 as the worst three teams). A 6.95 K/9 that's around average and a 3.3 BB/9 that's third best in baseball are very positive signs. With the (potentially) good outfield defense, the O's may have looked too much to take advantage of it and have the highest flyball rate in baseball. As expected though, this is probably not an optimal strategy for a team that plays in Camden Yards. Read more ...