The Orioles head out west for a nine-game trip, which means a lot of late nights for O’s fans. The west coast swing can be brutal for teams, but the Orioles have managed it well over the last couple of years. The team has played well the last three seasons finishing with a 6-4 record in 2014, 7-4 in 2013, and 7-6 in 2012. With the team in the thick of a wild card race and still within reach of the American League East crown, the next nine games are very crucial for this ballclub.
O’s Get Outfielder, Roster Flexibility at Deadline
The popular belief among Orioles fans is the front office does not want to spend the money to compete with the big boys. That debate will once again come up this offseason when the likes of Chris Davis and Matt Wieters hit the free agent market. However, one thing nobody can say about this team under Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter is they do not try to upgrade the team at the trading deadline. The additions of Bud Norris, Andrew Miller, and now Gerardo Parra at the deadline in recent seasons squash that theory.
Parra is exactly what this team has been missing all season long and will provide the team with excellent defense, ability to get on base, speed, and will help lengthen the lineup by being slotted at the top of the order with Manny Machado.
The releases of Bud Norris and Chris Parmelee, along with trading away Tommy Hunter now allows Showalter to manipulate the roster, which is one of his great strengths. We are seeing it tonight with Tyler Wilson making a spot start with Chris Tillman still dealing with an ankle injury. A week ago, the team would have been forced to cut someone or place Tillman on the disabled list. I believe strongly that Mychal Givens will provide the same production as Hunter, but if not, then the team can dip into the minors and grab someone else. It’s unfortunate that Mike Wright came down with a calf injury as I believe a combination of Wright, Givens, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton in late innings could be deadly down the stretch.
DAVIS PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME
The Orioles slugger is hitting his peak at the right time as not only is it helping the O’s make a push for the playoffs, but it’s adding zeroes to the next contract Davis signs. Davis will always strike out and will never hit for a high average and the quicker people accept that, the quicker they will realize how important Davis is to a team. I have always been a big supporter of Davis even when he is swinging at pitches he has no business taking a hack at. Davis should finish the year with around 40 home runs and over 100 RBIs which any team and fan would sign up for at the beginning of a season. An order of Machado, Parra, Adam Jones, Davis, Wieters (when in lineup) is a top 5 that can compete with anyone in baseball and should help give the O’s a huge boost for the stretch run.
JIMENEZ CONTINUES MONTH-LONG STRUGGLES
On July 8, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched five scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins and lowered his ERA to 2.81 which was among the leaders in the American League. Now, less than a month later and after another start of giving up at least six earned runs, Jimenez sees his ERA at a season worst 4.04. I think most fans were always skeptical of Jimenez’s strong season through the first three months, but he kept pitching well on a consistent basis. However, the last month has been the 2014 version of Jimenez and the team needs to quickly fix his struggles. The starting pitching staff as a whole outside of this weekend’s Detroit Tigers series has pitched well and they need to continue to do so if the team wants to have any shot of making the postseason.