There is no doubt the Orioles have some problems on defense. There is no doubt the Orioles are inconsistent on offense. But to me, the club could overcome much of that and still win a wild card playoff berth if it can get consistently solid starting pitching.
Sometimes, the stats don't tell us what we need to know, but sometimes they do. The Orioles are 21-1 this year when their starter goes seven innings or more. The Orioles are 32-5 this year when their starter provides a quality start of six innings or more allowing three earned runs or fewer.
Just look at the last 19 games, a stretch where the Orioles went 6-13. During those 19 games, the Orioles' pitchers recorded just six quality starts, but the team was 5-1 in those games. By the way, they scored a total of 16 runs in the five wins, so they didn't win with big offense in those games.
Furthermore, the ERA of O's starters was 4.12 on May 19 when the club reached its highest point over .500 this year, 13 games over with a 27-14 record. But the Orioles are 18-26 since then and the starters' ERA in those 46 games is 5.42.
For the season, the Orioles starters have an ERA of 4.77, a figure that ranks 11th in the AL and fourth in the American League East, ahead of only Boston.
Moving forward, can the O's starting staff produce an ERA at or near 4.00? Or will it be at or above 5.00? Closer to 4.00 or even below it and the team will probably stay in the wild card race. But a number that they have posted since May 19 of 5.42 will clearly not be good enough for a postseason berth.
By the way, if you were told there would be no math on this blog, someone misled you. But I digress.
The O's rebuilt rotation heads into the second half with Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and a fifth starter that could well be Zach Britton.
The club continues to pursue pitching via a trade as well. Scoring runs is important. Playing solid defense is important. But in the end, what will prove to be most important is the starting pitching.
Will the Orioles have enough of it to make the playoffs?
In the minors: Pitcher Bobby Bundy is likely headed to the disabled list at Double-A Bowie due to elbow soreness. He is expected to see team doctors to determine the extent of the injury. Bundy has allowed 15 runs over 3 2/3 innings in his past two starts as his ERA with the Baysox jumped to 6.25.
Right-hander Mike Wright, the Orioles' third-round pick last year, came off the DL and returned to Bowie yesterday. He pitched three scoreless innings for the Baysox last night and was scheduled to go just three as he rebuilds his arm strength. He had not pitched since June 2 and this was his third outing for Bowie since moving up from Single-A Frederick.
Branden Kline, the club's second-round pick this year out of the University of Virginia, is still not quite ready to join an affiliate as he builds back his arm strength since the end of his college season. He will likely start his O's career by pitching in a few games in the Gulf Coast League.