The Orioles continued their winning ways on Monday night which is a good thing since they will now have to square off against Max Scherzer in game two of the Beltway Series with Ubaldo Jimenez taking the mound for the O’s. The way this season has gone, it shouldn’t surprise any of us if somehow the Orioles found a way to win even though on paper it appears that they are already at a disadvantage.
The Return of the Splitter
It’s amazing what happens when you actually throw your best pitch. It has been noted that Kevin Gausman has not been using his split-fingered fastball this year and it’s probably not a coincidence that he has struggled. However, the right-hander relied on that pitch 18 percent of the time last night (according to FanGraph) and was able to get many swings and misses off it.
Monday’s performance was vintage Gausman and if what we saw last night is a sign of things to come, look out. It should be noted that it all starts with fastball command and getting ahead of hitters. Gausman is throwing first pitch strikes 58.1 percent of the time this season which is more to blame than not throwing the splitter. That’s below league average, but he was able to flip the script last night as he threw first-pitch strikes 77.8 percent of the time. To put that in context, New York Yankees starter Michael Pineda leads the league with 71.7 percent first pitch strikes.
Gausman won’t pitch that to much success in every start, but if he can be in the 60 percent threshold like he was numerous times in the second half of 2016, it bodes well moving forward.
Mancini Continues To Rake
Trey Mancini continues to make the case that his name should be in the lineup on an everyday basis. As of now, Mancini continues to start the majority of the time against left-handed pitchers, which I think is a mistake. It’s a small sample size, but Mancini is currently batting .417 with five home runs and 14 RBIs against right-handers and .256 with two home runs and six RBIs against left-handers.
A guy that is having that much success should not be limited to a platoon role. This obviously would impact Hyun-Soo Kim the most as he is already having a difficult time finding his name in the lineup. Buck Showalter has a good thing going right now with the Seth Smith and Joey Rickard combo at the top of the lineup depending who is on the mound and Craig Gentry entering the game late as a defensive replacement on a nightly basis.
Kim’s appeal is that he works the count and can get on base. Mancini does both of those as well plus he has the ability to hit the long ball and is more athletic. If Mancini does what Kim can do, but better, why shouldn’t he be playing?
That is the question Showalter is probably asking himself nightly. This will continue to be a storyline to follow, especially if Mancini continues to hit and if the Orioles have to finally return to a four-man bench.