Thoughts About The Orioles After Another Successful SeriesPosted on May 12, 2013
Another series, another win.
The Orioles wrapped up their season series against the Twins with a 6-0 shutout during the finale May 12, finishing with a 3-3 record against Minnesota this year. A few thoughts:
HIDE THE BROOMS
Through 12 series of the season, the Orioles are the only team in the major leagues that has neither swept nor gotten swept during a series. On the one hand, the lack of sweeps is a little disappointing, given that the O's have had four series they could've swept with a win during the final game, but instead went 0-4 during those finales.
Still, the fact that the O's haven't let themselves get swept is a rather impressive feat as well -- especially considering that the Orioles' tough early-season schedule, which has included 23 road games, as opposed to just 15 at home. It just goes to show the impressive consistency of this Orioles team; amazingly, the Birds have had only two losing streaks of two games or longer, and none higher than three.
Sweeping series would be nice, but simply winning series gets the job done, too. And the Orioles have excelled in that regard, winning nine of their first 12 series.
AS THE ROTATION TURNS
Although the Orioles seem to be firing on almost all cylinders right now, there remains one notable exception: the starting rotation. The Birds' scuffling staff may have suffered another blow during the Twins finale when Wei-Yin Chen exited his start after five innings with a strained right oblique.
If Chen is forced to miss significant time, it'll be a crippling blow to an already problematic rotation. Chen, who led the team in starts in 2012, has been the most effective of the Birds' starters early this season. The Orioles have already had their troubles finding an effective fifth starter and an adequate replacement for the injured Miguel Gonzalez, having cycled through Jake Arrieta, Josh Stinson, Zach Britton, Steve Johnson and Freddy Garcia at various times this season.
Should Chen miss time, the O's will have yet another hole to fill, and their depth chart of capable replacements is already frighteningly thin. A rotation of a struggling Jason Hammel, an enigmatic Chris Tillman, a 36-year-old Garcia and two yet-to-be-identified fill-ins is not a pleasant thought for Orioles fans. But then again, the Orioles were experts last season at bouncing back from every challenge.
Speaking of challenges, the 2013 season has been a season-long struggle for Nolan Reimold.
The 29-year-old Reimold, now in his fifth season with the Birds, entered the season likely knowing this was a make-or-break year for him. And so far, quite frankly, he's broken.
Through 31 games, Reimold's offense has been virtually nonexistent. He started one game of the Twins series -- going 1-for-4 -- and is now batting .188 with a .583 OPS in 113 plate appearances.
Although Reimold still seems to have a good batting eye -- drawing 10 walks so far -- something doesn't seem right with his swing. From my (admittedly inexpert) view, Reimold looks as if he's lunging too much at the ball, throwing off his timing and resulting in awkward, powerless swings.
For a player with an injury history as long as Reimold's, one can't help but wonder whether perhaps a nagging injury is affecting Reimold's swing. Reimold was briefly sidelined during spring training with a sore shoulder. It's possible the injury never fully disappeared.
Whatever the case, the slow start is disappointing to the Orioles. When the Birds let Mark Reynolds leave as a free agent this past offseason, they were likely hoping that they could replace his production with a healthy and hot-hitting Reimold. Instead, owing largely to Reimold, the O's have gotten virtually no production from the designated hitter position.
With prospective DH Wilson Betemit still sidelined for a few more weeks, Reimold will get a few more chances to get his bat going. But the leash must be getting short. Veteran outfielder Jason Pridie is having a nice season at Triple-A Norfolk, as is prospect L.J. Hoes. The Orioles have alternatives should they decide they can't afford Reimold's struggling offense any longer.
Posted May 12, 2013 by Paul Folkemer