Olivia Witherite: Was it OK to say goodbye to Guthrie?

It has been almost three months since the trade heard around Baltimore occurred when starter Jeremy Guthrie was dealt to the Rockies for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. While there were strong reactions, many of which were extremely negative, Hammel and Lindstrom have now settled in nicely into their respective roles. But are they comparable to the Orioles' old ace?

Hammel began the season in the No. 3 starter's role, a few short days after Guthrie settled in as the new ace in Colorado. Since then, Hammel has started four games, including a dominant eight-inning, two-hit game April 8. So far in 2012, he has yet to lose a game, pitching to a 3-0 record.

Over his four games, Hammel has pitched 26 innings, allowing 18 hits and five earned runs. He has a 25:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 1.73 ERA.

On the other hand, Guthrie tapered off after a strong start to his season. He began his on opening day with a strong, seven-inning win but followed it five days later with a 3 1/3-inning, nine-hit, six-run no-decision.

Over Guthrie's four games, he has pitched 24 1/3 innings, allowing 25 hits and 16 earned runs. He has a 5:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 5.92 ERA. Last weekend, he tumbled off his bicycle - ironically, just before a "Bike to the Park" promotion at Coors Field - and landed on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder.

In addition to acquiring Hammel, the Orioles also gained reliever Lindstrom in the Guthrie trade. In 8 2/3 innings of relief work, Lindstrom has been one word: dominant. The right-hander has sprinkled eight hits throughout his eight appearances, allowing zero earned runs along the way. That's a 0.00 ERA after facing 36 batters.

Another positive of the trade is the cash value. Guthrie is being paid $8.2 million for his year for Colorado after earning $5.75 million last year in Baltimore. Meanwhile, Lindstrom will earn $7.6 million over the next two seasons, and Hammel will earn $4.75 million this season.

From the trade, the Orioles obtained two main parts of the roster that desperately needed to be filled. What the Orioles needed was solid pitching, not just in the starting rotation, but in the later innings as well. Not always by his doing, Guthrie led the American League with most losses in 2011 with 17, which greatly hurt the Birds.

It all starts with pitching, and while it is still April, there is much to be said for the tremendous ability to eat innings that Hammel and Lindstrom have shown. Innings are a key part of whether the Orioles will be successful this season.

As the games went later into the season in 2011, we saw pitchers being pulled early in games and relievers, such as Jim Johnson, being tremendously overworked. To really see how effective these new pitchers are, we will have to look to wins and the amount of innings pitched further in the season.

Olivia Witherite blogs about the Orioles at Birds Watcher, and her opinions appear here as part of MASN's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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