The O’s bullpen: OK for now (updated)

It is a concern that right now is not going away. Can the Orioles bullpen withstand pitching so many innings and will it become an issue for the team if the starting pitchers continue to not get deep in games?

The Orioles have had a starter go seven innings or more just once all year. While there haven’t been many early exits by O’s starters, like in the second or third inning, they could still use a few nights when their starter gets deep into the game.

The last three games, the O’s starters have worked a combined 16 1/3 innings. The Orioles bullpen has pitched 86 2/3 frames on the year, the sixth-most innings by any American League ‘pen. Among AL East teams, only Toronto (with 94) has pitched more.

The O’s ‘pen remains really good with six shutout innings and seven strikeouts in the Seattle series and its ERA of 2.49 for the year ranks second in the AL.

Heading into tonight’s game, the O’s eight-man pen (eight while no fifth starter is on the roster) is in decent shape. Here is an update on each pitcher:

* Jim Johnson has had three consecutive days off after pitching in five of six games.

* Darren O’Day has worked three of the last four days, pitching 2 1/3 innings, throwing 51 pitches.

* Brian Matusz has pitched three of the last four days, working 4 1/3 innings.

* T.J. McFarland has thrown just one inning the last nine games.

* Troy Patton has pitched two of the last five days for 1 2/3 frames.

* Tommy Hunter has worked three innings over the last two games on 32 pitches after four straight days off.

* Pedro Strop has been off back-to-back days after pitching twice over a seven-day stretch.

* Zach Clark pitched seven shutout innings in Triple-A on April 25, but has had five days off since that game.

It was much debated over the winter, but so far, the Orioles ‘pen has been good again. But they could benefit from the starters doing their part by getting deeper in games to keep it that way.

A take on Jones: I don’t know what is going on with Adam Jones on defense either. On the one hand, the two plays tonight were both scored hits, but both are also plays with a degree of difficulty we have seen him handle before.

On the Jesus Montero triple in the second, it looked like he got a late jump on the replay and that made it harder to get the ball on the back end of that play. It also looked like Jones took a look back at the wall just as the ball was getting to his glove. He didn’t make the play and I’ll bet he says after the game that he should have caught it.

Right now, tough plays are seemingly finding him every night and he is not making as many of those plays as we are used to seeing him make.

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