We knew it when last season ended. We knew it at the Winter Meetings. We knew it when spring training started.
The key for the Orioles in 2014 would be the pitching.
After a very poor start the pitching has started to come around. When the Orioles started 1-4, their team ERA was 5.86. In winning six of nine games since then, the team ERA is 2.93. The starters ERA was 7.56 during the 1-4 start and is 2.91 since then.
O's record when each pitcher starts:
* Chris Tillman 2-1
* Ubaldo Jimenez 0-3
* Wei-Yin Chen 2-1
* Miguel Gonzalez 2-1
* Bud Norris 1-1
Over their last four combined starts Chen, Gonzalez and Norris have pitched to an ERA of 1.50. Tillman is pitching like an ace.
It is clear that Jimenez is the O's starter that needs to join the party at 0-3 with an ERA of 7.31. His signing was so well received by the fans and now he's the one starter not going well. Yes, that is surprising.
We know Jimenez will not lose his starter's job right now, so there is no sense even debating that. We also know he is a slow starter and the question then becomes is this just another slow start or a bigger issue?
Meanwhile, the more I am around Hunter Harvey, the more I find to like about that kid. And I'm not just talking about his solid fastball and hammer curveball.
He is clearly savvy about the sport, moreso than you would expect to see from someone that is 19. His dad clearly taught him a lot, and not just how to throw a pitch.
When I told him after the Delmarva game last night that I am already hearing from fans that think he should be promoted, he provided the perfect response.
Rather than brag or say he's looking forward to that day he said, "No, you know, right now it's about getting experience. Learning how to pitch and learning how to use all my pitches. Work on my changeup and just getting better overall right now."
Good answer and he's right about every word.
I don't think the time to promote Harvey has come. There is still plenty to learn and pitching in Single-A Delmarva's six-man rotation provides the youngster a little extra rest and will help the organization hold down his innings this year and be able to get him to pitch through the full season and not have to be shut down.
It's only been three starts in the South Atlantic League for Harvey. There's no need to rush something here. But, like with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman before him, it will be fun to watch this kid make his way through the minors on an inevitable path to Baltimore.
If you missed it I was on "O's Xtra" before yesterday's Orioles game talking about Harvey and other minor league topics. You can watch that here.