BY ROB SHAW
The biggest surprise in baseball could very well be the Baltimore Orioles and what is most shocking is that the success is not a result of the offense as much as it is the pitching. Let’s take a look at the three over-performing hurlers to determine whether or not the team’s success is sustainable.
Jake Arrieta is seemingly an innings eater who is in the prime of his career. He does not have much control, he is not a strikeout artist, and he surrenders too many home runs. His season got off to a great start with a 7-inning two-hit gem against a weak Minnesota offense. Since then, he has been quite ordinary. That’s what fantasy managers should expect going forward, as Arrieta epitomizes the average pitcher.
Tommy Hunter is a far more interesting pitcher. The Orioles hurler had some success in 2010 with the Rangers, picking up a 13-4 record with a 3.73 ERA. Hunter is not a strikeout artist, nor does he try to be one. The big right-hander makes a living keeping his defense busy. So far, Hunter has been a bit uneven with two gems that resulted in a combined one earned run. In the other two starts he surrendered a combined six home runs. Fantasy managers will and should pass on his services since he does not rack up the K’s, but he’s been a winner so far in his career and should be a solid middle of the rotation hurler for the O’s.
Jason Hammel is looking like a star in Baltimore. Now that he escaped Colorado, the air is a little bit thicker and the ball is finding gloves in the field. Additionally, the K’s are coming twice as frequently as last season. Part of the reason for the sudden success is the addition of a new pitch to the arsenal. Hammel now throws a sinker and he is getting a lot of ground balls with the new pitch. The question is whether this type of success is sustainable or if a new scouting report will allow the hitters to make adjustments. Considering he is already 29 years old and has been in the leagues for several years, it is unlikely a radical change will unfold this late in his career.
The Orioles do have some stars in the lineup as Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters should all be in their prime. The starting rotation is another matter and the problem here is that the team is loaded with overachieving middle of the rotation hurlers. It is very unlikely that they will be able to sustain this success.
For more baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com