The rotation and the Most Overlooked Oriole

The Orioles are off today, which means that I'm sort of off today.

My immediate plans are to go outside and run around in circles while waiving my arms over my head. That's it. Just ... go outside and run around in circles. And the arms thing.

In case you missed my tweet last night (and shame on you for not following me at @MASNroch), Jake Arrieta's latest start at Triple-A Norfolk was a dud. He allowed six runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings, with five walks and five strikeouts. He threw 91 pitches, including 52 for strikes, and his ERA is up to 5.74.

This stint in the minors isn't working. I thought Arrieta would go down, shove for a few starts and be back up. I understand that his delivery is being tweaked, but his stuff is too good for him to be laboring to such a degree.

Everyone I talk to - teammates, former teammates, coaches, scouts - says the same thing about Arrieta. They love his stuff and his work ethic. Rival executives wanted him more than any other young pitcher in the system who wasn't Dylan Bundy. But they also wanted to buy low. The Orioles weren't going to accommodate them.

I've heard that the person catching one of Arrieta's bullpen sessions wore a camera on his helmet so that, I assume, his delivery could be more easily studied. Or the tape was being submitted to "America's Funniest Home Bullpen Sessions."

It's way too soon to give up on Arrieta. That would be foolish. But his regression has been a huge disappointment. I had him down for 15 wins this season. I thought he was going to be the breakout Oriole for 2012. I was wrong.

Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Zach Britton are in Norfolk, and the Orioles are in second place. Crazy.

If I told you back in March that those three starters would be pitching for the Tides in the second week of August, Jason Hammel would be on the disabled list and Tsuyoshi Wada would be rehabbing from ligament-reconstructive surgery on his elbow without throwing a single pitch in the regular season, how would you have felt about this season?

Yep, I bet you forgot about Wada.

The Orioles will need a fifth starter Saturday. Stay tuned.

Here are the pitching matchups for the Red Sox series that begins Tuesday at Camden Yards:

Tuesday: Wei-Yin Chen (10-7, 3.78 ERA) vs. Josh Beckett (5-9, 4.97 ERA)
Wednesday: Miguel Gonzalez (4-2, 3.42 ERA) vs. Aaron Cook (3-5, 4.70 ERA)
Thursday: Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.40 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (10-3, 4.24 ERA)

As long as I'm posing questions here, would you have believed back in March that Chen would have twice as many wins as Beckett?

What about Cliff Lee having only one more than Chris Davis?

Crazy.

On yesterday's "O's Xtra,"
I created a new award for the Most Overlooked Oriole, also known as "MOO." I also dropped an "utterly ridiculous" line that I'm not particularly proud of, but I digress.

Patton Throws White Wide.jpgI chose left-hander Troy Patton, who's strung together 17 consecutive scoreless appearances to lower his ERA to 2.58. He's the only lefty reliever and he's quietly become a valuable member of a bullpen that tends to be defined by closer Jim Johnson and set-up man Pedro Strop.

Let me know if you have another nomination. And keep in mind that it can't be someone who's been a surprise, but also has gotten a lot of notice. That would be Most Surprising Oriole, also known as "MSO," which doesn't work nearly as well.

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