Last year's Orioles rotation was a bit in flux, with 12 different starters being used over the course of the season. Steve Johnson gets the call for tonight's game, the 37th of the year, and he will already be the 9th different starter used by this year's Orioles. A number of those are one-hit wonders, and hopefully Son of Dave is not the latest of these. He's probably got at least until Miguel Gonzalez comes off the disabled list next Saturday.
It's the 2013 major league debut for Johnson, who was injured for a few weeks and then optioned to AAA when he was healthy. Johnson is one of the many who was surprisingly solid down the stretch for last year's Orioles. Yet you have to wonder how that could continue? He's Steve Johnson! Drawing the Twins for his first start is not a bad assignment at all.
Even better for Johnson is that his counterpart for the Twins is Vance Worley, winless on the year with an unsightly 6.95 ERA. Whatever magic Worley may have had in Philadelphia last year did not follow him to the American League. He's giving up home runs at a much greater rate than before, striking out fewer batters, and on top of that, hitters against him have a ridiculous .407 BABIP. Unsustainable? That's always a fair question to ask, but I will again point out Jake Arrieta (and previous years' incarnations of Chris Tillman) as the evidence that if a pitcher just plain sucks, any outrageous BABIP is perfectly sustainable. Throw balls that are easy for major league hitters to hit, and they will hit them.
Worley doesn't have any weird velocity drop or anything like that. He's just getting tattooed. Bummer, dude. Say, lefties have hit four home runs off Worley this year. Maybe a good day for Chris Davis is on the horizon. Worley has two quality starts this season. Don't let tonight be the third.
By now we've all got to get used to the fart of the order, and tonight is yet another night we will see it. Hardy, Flaherty, then Reimold. It's happening. Brace yourselves. And Orioles designated hitters are like reverse-due after Nick Markakis collected a pair of hits as the DH last night. They could go hitless for the next week. Orioles DHs are batting .149/.248/.256. Ouch.
Here's the good news: O's designated hitters are no longer being out-hit by pitchers. Even the best-hitting team's pitchers (Milwaukee with a .497 OPS) is lower than O's DH (.504 OPS). I don't suppose that is much comfort at all. All pitchers have a .084/.103/.105 slash line. If you only count NL pitchers, they have a .325 OPS. Again, small comfort. Orioles DHs are the third-worst hitting position in all of the American League, only slightly ahead of Chicago first basemen and Seattle shortstops.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||MINNESOTA TWINS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Brian Dozier - 2B|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Joe Mauer - C|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Ryan Doumit - DH|
|Adam Jones - CF||Justin Morneau - 1B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Trevor Plouffe - 3B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Chris Parmelee - RF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Oswaldo Arcia - LF|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Wilkin Ramirez - CF|
|Nolan Reimold - DH||Eduardo Escobar - SS|