PiR: One in Five Jonathan Schoop Homers Has Won the Game

Reality: The Baltimore Orioles went 5-5 on their third and final West Coast Road Trip of 2016.

Perception: As I said in this column one week ago, the Orioles needed to go 5-5 on the trip and they would be just find and that’s exactly what they did. They need to play .500 ball on the road, and with their dominance at home, that should be good enough.

The O’s are 22 games over .500 at home, but are seven games under .500 on the road. Right now, Baltimore is winning 70% of their home games, but just 44% of their road games. That’s good news when 25 of their last 45 games are at home. And as long as they have home-field advantage in the playoffs, those stats would mean a series win…but that’s why they play the game.

At 66-51, the Orioles are just percentage points ahead of Toronto in the AL East but have just a 1.0 game lead over the Red Sox in the division and for the 1st Wild Card. (Side Note: Three of the five playoff teams would be AL East Teams if they started today.)

Reality: The Orioles bullpen is 3rd in baseball (1st in American League) with a 3.15 ERA.

Perception: As the old adage goes, the playoffs come down to pitching. However, many people assume that means starting pitching. It doesn’t have to.

Not very many starters go the distance these days. Heck, getting 7.0 innings out of a starter would be huge for most clubs. However, more and more teams are getting 5-6 innings and then are turning it over to their bullpens and that’s when most teams struggle.

In innings 1-6, we see the Cubs, Nationals, Blue Jays, Mets, and Giants making up the top five in ERA. But in innings 7-9, the Cubs are 11th and the Blue Jays are 21st. The Mets and Giants fall a couple of positions. But the Orioles are #1. Only the Dodgers and O’s have under a 3.00 ERA in the late innings.

What does that tell you? Well, it’s exactly what we saw in San Francisco on Sunday. Many teams are going to shut you down thru the first six innings, but then they fall apart. And if their opponent has a good offense, you’ll see the offense prevail.

I have totally laid off Orioles starters as of late. As the late Dennis Green said, “They are who we thought they were.” Wade Miley is exactly what we thought… a lefty who was an upgrade as our 5th starter and not much more. Our #3 and #4 were going to be shaky and they have been. But we are still in first place, because we have a great offense and a superb bullpen. When it comes to the playoffs, if the Orioles starters can get through five innings, the O’s shouldn’t lose.

Reality: Zach Britton has 37 saves in 37 opportunities this year.

Perception: He is the most dominant closer in baseball and is doing something that is historical. In 50 innings, Britton has 59 strike outs and an ERA of 0.54. That would be the lowest single-season ERA for a pitcher in MLB history (minimum 50 IP).

According to ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor Britton is behind only J.A. Happ for the Cy Young. (Side Note: Chris Tillman is 6th in the rankings.)

The record for the most saves in a single-season is 53. Britton would need 16 saves in just 45 games to tie that record. I don’t see that happening. But not many closers have been perfect (without blowing a save opportunity) in a season. The last pitcher to do so was Eric Gagne in 2003 and he won the Cy Young.

Reality: Jonathan Schoop has 50 career home runs and 10 of them have won the game.

Perception: That’s pretty remarkable for a 24-year-old. This is his break out year. He is 4th on the team in batting average, 3rd on the team in hits, 2nd on the team in doubles, and tied for 5th in home runs.

Schoop has been in a lot of trade rumors in his young career because teams see his bright future. But if the Orioles want to remain contenders for a number of years, they need to do everything in the power to lock up Schoop long-term along with his best buddy, Manny Machado. It will cost them, but when you have two dynamic players like those two, you can’t let them get away.


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About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

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