2012 was undoubtedly an exceptional year for the Orioles bull pen. Unforunately, 2013 is a different story.
Pedro Strop has continued to miss the strike zone in important situations and when he does throw strikes they go into the stands. To Pedro’s defense, his exceptional fastball misleads his experience pitching. Strop wasn’t always a bull pen guy, he grew up playing shortstop and was converted to pitcher when he couldn’t hit. He is still a work in progress with getting his pitching motion consistent again to throw strikes but where he needs to evolve is in his emotions. Wearing his emotions on his sleeve can be great when things are going well but when things are not going great it causes a chain reaction of bad events. He needs to find the happy medium if he wants to succeed. Strop currently went on the DL for his back but I have a feeling it was to give him a break and bring in another arm to help.
Fans tend to turn on Pedro extremely quick which is understandable because of his play but he needs to be put in better situations like a clean inning, maybe mop up duty or in the 7th. What Pedro lacks in experience….Jim Johnson does not. Jim has pitched a lot longer so for him to implode hurts a bit more watching these blown saves. When things are good Jim is a lights out closer, he did set the team record for consecutive saves but now with these blown saves it has gotten into his head and you can see it. What do we do? You keep throwing him out there that’s what you do. Fellow writer Bill Thompson once said to me Who else do we have? We win with what we have. Jim Johnson is the best the Orioles have so he is going to have to figure it, otherwise he and Fernando Rodney of Tampa are going to be battling for most blown saves in a year.
Now this isn’t a Doom and Gloom article, this isn’t a over reaction like many National’s fans calling for Davey’s job which boggles my mind. This is just pointing out that instead of being on top of the league with wins right now we are knocked down a peg and are going to have to work harder this year if they want to get back to where they were last year. Even with all the blown saves we are still sitting above .500 and in arms reach for the lead with these early missteps.
Manager Buck Showalter has recently made a few roster adjustments to try and spark the team and get them back on the right track. Now Buck has been exceptional with roster moves in the past so with these let’s hope they pan out the same.
The Big Roster move came with the call up of Kevin Guasman to give the starting rotation a spark. The Orioles 2nd top prospect behind Dylan Bundy performed as well as a rookie could in his first appearance, and gave the O’s a chance to win. Kevin lit up the radar gun in Toronto topping out at 99mph. He has an exceptional fastball and change up combination with a developing slider. Gaus had pretty good command but did have a couple balls leak to the wrong corner of the plate, one that led to a 2 run home run. He didn’t get his first career win but Oriole fans can be excited for this kid developing into a great one two punch with Bundy when he gets healthy and called up too. Kevin’s next start will be this week vs the Nationals.
Steve Johnson came back up the other day for Pedro Strop and performed well in 2 innings of work. I’m excited to see him perform well, while not having a blazing fastball he makes up for it with his craftiness and hiding the ball well. Steve tops out at 90mph but his off speed can range from 66mph with his curve and 76 with his change up.
As for the hitters and 2nd base situation Yamaico Navarro seems to be the choice for now with his decent bat. He is a natural 3rd basemen but plays all over the field, and I would expect him to keep the job if he keeps the bat going. Alexi Casilla will be coming in as a defensive replacement for him when needed. Danny Valencia has been brought up for the DH roll and has given us an extra bat getting a couple hits in the Blue Jays series including a home run. While smaller names and minor adjustments, if they keep producing it just makes Buck look even better, and better yet helps the team get wins.
For O’s fans as long as they stay away from these 6 game losing streaks they will sleep easy. I think Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Chris Davis can help keep pace with the rest of the East til the All-Star Break. But things will have to fall in to place with the rotation and bull pen after to make that run. The team is battle tested but how many more blown saves til they break? The game is 90% mental and that is certainly being put to the test at this point. Hopefully the adjustments Buck has made will be enough to right the ship.
The Orioles continue their 4 game Battle Of The Beltways with the Nationals tonight in DC as they have a 1-0 lead going into the this evening’s game. The final two games will move up I-95 to be played at Camden Yards.