Thursday, 10 May 2012
Guess who's first in the AL East? Wrong. Not the Yankees, not the Red Sox, not the Rays and not even the up and coming Blue Jays. It's the Baltimore Orioles. Coming into the season a total of 8 out of 8 of the CBSSports.com baseball experts picked the Orioles to come last in the AL East. I think everyone did but now we're seeing everyone might be wrong.
Even though the Orioles are leading the AL in homeruns with 50, this team isn't only hitting the ball out of the park but their pitchers are keeping the ball in the park. Their team ERA is 3.27, lowest in the AL, and they have the second most saves in the AL, behind Cleveland with 12. This proves not only has their pitching staff been getting the job done but their bullpen has been closing out games and shutting down the opposition. Their rotation consits of Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, and Brian Matusz. This rotation has been lights out but there are two starters in particular.
Wei-Yin Chen has been dominant with a 2.68 ERA and has literally come out of no where. This is the left-handers first year in the MLB because before this he was playing for the Chunichi Dragons in the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) in Japan. Chen has a nice high-80 to low-90 fastball with a very slow curveball to keep hitters on their toes. He has definately been what the Orioles were looking for but he hasn't been the most dominant pitcher in the rotation as a matter of fact.
Jason Hammel, the right-hander who came to Baltimore along with Matt Lindstrom from the Colorado Rockies in the trade for Jeremy Guthrie, has been the most dominant pitcher for the O's. He has an AL 5th best 2.09 ERA and an AL 11th best 38 strikeouts. Saying this guy has been lights out would be an understatement. I don't even think the O's expected Hammel to be this good. He has definately appreciated his move from one of the hardest parks to pitch, Coors Field, to Camden Yards.
The Baltimore Orioles don't seem like the kind of team put together to win the AL East but if their pitchers keep doing what they're doing and their hitters keep racking up those homers, why not? There is obviously a lot of things that have to go right for the Orioles in this talented divison if they want to make this a productive season but with a 20-11 record (Tied for first in the MLB) they are on the right track.