After taking the first two games against the Boston Red Sox, the Orioles dropped the final two even though both were winnable games. The O’s begin a two-game series against the last place Pittsburgh Pirates which should be good news, but due to their struggles outside the American League East, maybe it isn’t.
The Pirates have scored at least 11 runs in two of their last three games so Kevin Gausman will get the first crack at slowing down a red-hot offense. Even though it hasn’t looked pretty, the right-hander hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in each of his last three starts and four of his last five.
The next step for Gausman is to begin striking hitters out again as he is currently striking out 6.4 hitters per nine innings which is a career low. To put it in perspective, Gausman struck out 8.7 hitters per nine innings last year. He would also do well to stop putting so many guys on base – his WHIP is an unseemly 1.84, highest among qualified MLB starters and well above his 1.37 career average.
Schoop Continues to Hit
After two more doubles on Sunday, the second baseman has 17 for the season which ranks third in baseball at his position. Jonathan Schoop will never be confused with a patient hitter, but he at least is on pace to set a career high in walks and on-base percentage. The 25-year-old is also on pace for a career high in slugging percentage.
The key for Schoop is avoiding a second half slump like last season. If we look at the first half of last year, Schoop was actually better than he is now and a lot of that has to do with a monster June so we will see what happens over the next month. Schoop finished the first half of 2016 with a .304 batting average to go along with 14 home runs, 52 RBIs and 23 doubles. He also had a .338 on base percentage.
Like the rest of the offense, Schoop slumped in the second half as he only hit .225. I still think Buck Showalter needs to rest his starters more often to avoid the struggles in the second half that we have seen over the last few seasons so that is something worth monitoring.
If Schoop can put together a full season and stay consistent, there’s no telling how much better he can get over the next couple of years.
A Look at Some Former Orioles
I watched a lot of baseball over the weekend (too much to admit) and saw plenty of former Orioles in action. Zach Davies of the Milwaukee Brewers had a strong start on Sunday as he pitched six shutout innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers while striking out six. For the season, the right-hander has a 4.69 ERA, so he’s not exactly pitching lights-out.
GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld
The one pitcher who continues to get better is Seattle Mariners starter Ariel Miranda as he pitched a complete game on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The left-hander struck out nine and now has a 3.74 ERA for the year.
The biggest shock came on Saturday when I saw a lanky left-hander enter the game for the Arizona Diamondbacks. T.J. McFarland pitched 1 2/3 innings and struck out two in his appearance. For the season, the lefty has appeared in 11 games and has a 0.55 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and has picked up three wins as a reliever. McFarland has also struck out 11 in 16 1/3 innings.
The fact McFarland is actually pitching well blows my mind. I’m not sure what to make of any of this, but thought it was worth sharing.