A look at a solid recent pitching run, plus plenty of other notes and stats

A few stats, thoughts and opinions as the first-place Orioles, a team that has not lost an AL East series since April 9, gets ready to host third-place Toronto tonight. For the O’s it is the start of a nine-game homestand against the Jays, Rockies and White Sox.

* The O’s pitching has been pretty darn good for well over 40 games now. After allowing just one run on Sunday, the O’s team ERA is 3.62 since July 1. And they are 29-15 (.659) in 44 games in that time.

As of Sunday, that was the fourth-best ERA in the AL in that stretch and sixth-best in MLB. And the O’s starters had thrown the third-most innings of any team in that span.

So yeah, pretty good.

And while the team ERA for the year is 4.08 to rank eighth in the AL, it’s much better in this span of games which is over a month and not just a good series or a good few weeks. It’s the kind of pitching they would probably need to win October games and the kind they got in the last two games at Seattle where they beat a hot team 1-0 and 5-3 back-to-back in ten innings.

The Orioles have now gone two cycles through a six-man rotation with Grayson Rodriguez about to start a third turn through this tonight. The results have been mostly good, but both Kyle Gibson (allowing nine runs) and Jack Flaherty (allowing seven runs) had real rough games during this stretch.

So, the team ERA in the 12 games is 4.61 and their won-loss record is 7-5. You can’t take out those two games, but if you could, the ERA would be 2.79 and record 7-3 in the other 10 games.

So, some positive results for the six-man, designed to provide extra rest and at least slightly limit some season innings totals for the young pitchers. It is serving its purpose and I see no reason to change this right now.

* Gunnar Henderson could have stopped at first base on Sunday on his eighth-inning RBI double at Oakland. That would have meant he became the eighth player in O’s history to hit for the cycle, a rare feat.

But by playing the game hard as he always does and running to second for a double, he just stayed true to himself and also achieved another rare feat. He became just the 11th Oriole to have four extra-base hits in one game. That had not happened since Melvin More did it on Aug. 17, 2008.

So he bypassed one rare feat for another.

And he didn’t deviate from his usual play. And he didn’t leave himself open to the criticism he no doubt would have gotten in a world where some just wait on such occurrences to rip. I’m sure this last part was of no concern to Henderson whatsoever. But now none of us have to hear anything of the sort.

He played the game the right way and more chances to hit for the cycle surely will be coming for the talented Henderson.

* DL Hall could be closing in on a return to the majors. A player that is still ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the club's No. 1 pitching prospect, but he is now just No. 10 on the team top 30. He's been out of sight and maybe out of mind for a while now.

But since the Orioles sent him to Triple-A early this month, he has thrown 6 2/3 innings allowing three hits and two runs with two walks to 15 strikeouts. That is a 20.20 K rate for five games and the longest he has thrown was two innings. His WHIP is 0.75 and batting average against is .130 for this span.

Perhaps most importantly, his velocity is coming back. He pitched one inning last Friday with his four-seam fastball ranging from 95.2 to 96.9 mph.

Perhaps he impacts the O's bullpen sooner than later. With Danny Coulombe's return likely soon as well, with Cionel Pérez throwing well now, with Nick Vespi on the roster and John Means perhaps to join too at some point, suddenly the O's have several left-handed 'pen options. And Means could also be used as a starter. 

It's pitching depth and it's needed.  



Orioles lineup vs. Blue Jays in series opener at C...
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