After almost a week of nearly-silent Orioles bats, will today be the game that they break out? How can you explain a team-wide slump like this? The easy explanation to grasp on to would be that the team really was knocked off-kilter by R.A. Dickey's knuckleball. I suspect the answer is a lot more complicated than this. Perhaps some of it is bad luck, and some of it is a frustrated, bad approach. Whatever it is, they will need to overcome it and lefty solve Ross Detwiler today.
The Nationals lefty is what passes for a weak link in that powerhouse starting rotation. Between the bullpen and the rotation this year, he's managed a 3.34 ERA with a 3.88 ERA as a starter in nine starts. That is the worst of the bunch, and would still be third-best on the O's even if you give a modest increase from facing pitchers or pinch-hitters once out of every nine plate appearances. Detwiler gets a modest number of strikeouts (46 in 62 IP), and has given up 21 walks, which is not great but not alarming. He is not particularly homer prone and in fact gets nearly 50% ground balls - likely bad news for the team that is dominant in the GIDP (offense) category, i.e. the Orioles.
When your starter is great like Hammel was Friday night, then even defensive miscues don't cost you. A little bit less sharp like Chen yesterday and defensive miscues combined with offensive ineptitude definitely cost you. Today it will be Jake Arrieta's turn. Jake has the potential to be as great as Hammel was and equal potential to be far worse than Chen was yesterday. Will he be able to locate his fastball? Will he be able to locate any off-speed pitch? On a good day, he could mow through the Nationals lineup faster than you can say, "This is Birdland." We all know what happens on a bad day, so I will say naught of it.
We're spared from Wilson Betemit at third base, at least for today. Robert Andino is playing the hot corner. One thing we can say about Robert is at least he probably won't do that stupid, unnecessary spin move, and may just have better footwork and more accurate throws.
Team Steve mans the outfield corners today. I have no idea whether Steve Pearce in right field constitutes an upgrade over Chris Davis. I have no idea how Steve Tolleson will do in left field, although if you believe the official Orioles.com active roster then Tolleson is an outfielder. I find this funny, because Pearce is not listed as an OF despite actually playing games in the outfield. Perhaps whoever last updated that page - for a while, Adam Jones was the only player listed under Outfielders - thought if he or she wished something hard enough it could become true. Tolleson is an outfielder. It's official now! We're saved.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||WASHINGTON NATIONALS|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Steve Lombardozzi - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Bryce Harper - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Ryan Zimmerman - 3B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Adam LaRoche - 1B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Michael Morse - DH|
|Steve Pearce - RF||Ian Desmond - SS|
|Ronny Paulino - DH||Danny Espinosa - 2B|
|Steve Tolleson - LF||Rick Ankiel - CF|
|Robert Andino - 3B||Jhonatan Solano - C|