Baltimore Orioles: Areas of success and areas of concern

The Baltimore Orioles are off to a decent start in 2014, sitting at an 8-8 record through Saturday the 20th of April. As the season continues, the Orioles will look stay competitive in a suddenly weakened AL East. The two favorites, the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, have both looked vulnerable in the season’s early weeks, as the Rays have had injuries to pitchers Alex Cobb and Matt Moore and the Sox sit at the bottom of the East standings.

So far, the offense has been good, but could be elite if Chris Davis can start hitting for the power he hit for last year. He has just 1 HR so far. Really, the whole roster has been on a power outage early on, as only Matt Wieters and Nelson Cruz have multiple HRs. Wieters and Cruz have been carrying the offense in the early going, with 10 and 11 RBI each respectively. Also, prospect Jonathan Schoop has been solid at second base so far, but he needs to drastically improve his plate discipline, as his K:BB ratio rests at a terrible 15:0.

Baltimore Orioles

Jonathan Schoop

The offense is not the problem so far for the O’s, who have recovered nicely since an early season four game losing streak. The starting pitching has not been doing enough to give the offense a chance to win games. Outside from the excellent start from Chris Tillman, who sits at 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA through his first 4 starts, no starter has an ERA under 4.40. Free agent signing Ubaldo Jimenez has struggled early on, pitching to a ERA over 7.oo. However, over the course of his career, Jimenez has been an extremely streaky pitcher and will most likely turn it around soon for the Orioles.

The bullpen, despite not including former closer Jim Johnson and set-up man Troy Patton, has been excellent so far in 2014. New closer Tommy Hunter has converted four of his first five save opportunities, and Darren O’Day, Evan Meek, and Zach Britton have yet to give up an earned run so far in 2014. If the starters can pass on the ball to the ‘pen with the lead late in the game, there is a good chance that the O’s will be able to hold on and earn the victory.

The most important thing for the Orioles right now is to get a healthy Manny Machado back on the field. The lineup has a totally different look with the doubles machine sitting near the top of the lineup, as his replacement at third base, Ryan Flaherty, has batted a poor .179 with 10 Ks in April. Once Manny Machado returns to play third, it remains to be seen who will play second base on a regular basis, as Jonathan Schoop may have convinced the front office that he deserves to stay in the big leagues.