Reality: Since the All-Star break, in five starts, Dylan Bundy is 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA.
Dylan Bundy over his last four starts:
1.90 ERA, 23.2 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 29 K
— O's Stats & Facts (@BirdlandStats) August 7, 2016
Perception: That ERA is 10th best among AL starters in the second half of the season. Giving Bundy a chance to start every five days is probably the best move the Orioles have done this season, and it basically makes him the best move they made at the trade deadline.
He has become the Orioles’ number 2 starter, behind Chris Tillman and ahead of Kevin Gausman. Yovani Gallardo and Wade Miley make up the 4th and 5th starters, to my mind.
Bundy has been very good, and has helped to stabilize the Orioles rotation just enough.
Reality: The Orioles offense has struggled since the All-Star break, (before Sunday) scoring just 3 runs per game.
26 straight gms for @Orioles scoring 5 runs or less in 9 inns.
A full month- but w improved pitching they're 13-13 during run drop off.
— Mark Viviano (@MarkWJZ) August 4, 2016
(Note: before Sunday)
Perception: So much talk of the Orioles season has concentrated on their starting pitching. But, in my opinion, it all comes down to their offense. If they score three runs or less in a game, there is no way they win, especially come playoff time. But when the Orioles offense is clicking, they can outscore their questionable starting pitching most nights.
Since the All-Star break, the Orioles pitching has a 3.59 ERA, which is 12th in MLB. Before the break, their pitching was 16th with a 4.35 ERA. But that improvement hasn’t showed in their record, being 12-11 since the break.
The difference? Their poor hitting. In the first half of the season, they were 8th in On-Base Percentage, but in the second half of the season, so far, they are 28th in OBP. You can’t win games, and definitely not playoff games, not getting on base.
So yes, starting pitching is important, but the Orioles are a team built around their offense, and if they aren’t hitting then they will fail. It’s as simple as that. Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Matt Wieters, Jonathan Schoop…they all need to start hitting again, or Baltimore’s pennant hopes will die quickly.
Reality: Zach Britton has started the season with 33 straight saves… the most by a Left-Handed pitcher in baseball history.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 4, 2016
Perception: Britton has already passed Tippy Martinez for sole possession of 3rd on the Orioles all-time saves list with 106.
It’s been amazing to watch Britton turn into the best closer in baseball. And that’s exactly what he is…but why does it seem that he is not getting the recognition, nationally, of being the best? To me, he still is left out of most talk about relievers. But it doesn’t really matter, because he is helping the Orioles win games.
This is remarkable:
#Orioles Zach Britton ERA by month this season:
April – 2.70
May – 0.00
June – 0.00
July – 0.00
August – 0.00
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) August 4, 2016
That looks like a video game stat, but no, that’s just the best reliever in baseball and he’s on the Orioles.
Buster Olney of ESPN wrote a column over the weekend saying why Britton is a major Cy Young Award candidate. He is not only having a great season, but he is having an all-time best type of season.
Reality: Manny Machado his 3 home runs in his first 3 at-bats Sunday.
Manny Machado has 3 HRs and 7 RBI and #Orioles only in 4th IP for leading AL MVP candidate
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 7, 2016
Perception: Not only could Britton be in the running for the Cy Young, but Machado could win the AL MVP.
Machado is hitting .307 this season with a .366 OBP and a .557 slugging percentage. He has 25 HR and 67 RBIs. He is a Platinum Glove fielder and clearly a leader for the team. When the national media talks about best young players, sometimes they forget to mention him, but that doesn’t matter. He’ll just continue to help his team win games, lead them to the playoffs, and win the AL MVP.
Reality: The Orioles are about to start a very difficult seven-game west coast road trip.
Perception: After taking two in Chicago, they are headed to Oakland and San Francisco for seven games. If they can pull out a 5-5 trip, that will be good enough. Of course, we’d want to win more, but for as bad as they have been on the road, a .500 trip will be okay.
Then they return home for an eight-game home-stand, where they are nearly unbeatable.
.@Orioles Orioles: 39-16 at home this season, best in MLB (20-3 at home vs AL since beginning of June)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 4, 2016
They are just 24-30 on the road, but at home they are 39-17. The Rangers and the Cubs are the only teams that come close to that sort of home dominance.
Back-to-back wins for the O's over the Rangers. Toughest home field advantage in MLB this year.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 4, 2016
Folks are taking notice of the Birds’ home-field advantage. They are going to need it to win in October, as mediocre as they are on the road. As far as playoff seeding, they’ll hope to win any tie-breakers, so they can play at home throughout the playoffs (or as much as possible). They already have home-field advantage in the World Series in they get there, but the key may be making sure they have it in the ALDS and the ALCS.
If they do, watch out.