Can top three starters carry O’s to a much better second half?

Here is a stat that may surprise you: The last 11 times that either Andrew Cashner or John Means was the Orioles starting pitcher, the Orioles are 9-2. That is not a misprint. They are 6-1 in Cashner’s last seven starts and 3-1 in Means’ last four.

Taking it a step further, over the season to date, the Orioles are 11-6 when Cashner starts and 6-8 with Means. That’s a winning record of 17-14. They are 5-12 when Dylan Bundy on the mound. So that is 22-26 when one of those three is the starting pitcher. That is a .458 winning percentage which would produce 74 wins over an entire season.

cashner-delivers-white-sidebar.jpgIf those three account for 60 percent of the Orioles starts in the second half, does that mean a better second half could be had by the club? Well we also have to keep in mind the Orioles are 5-36 (.122) when someone other than those three gets the start.

But it has been pitching that has probably been most responsible for the club going 5-4 heading into the break. The team ERA is 3.12 in that span and the starting pitchers are 4-3 with a 2.39 ERA in that stretch.

The Orioles just played better and sharper baseball in the final three series of the first half. But here is the test they get in the first three series out of the break - four with the Tampa Bay Rays, who are leading the American League wild card race, two with the Washington Nationals, who are 28-11 since May 24 and three with the Boston Red Sox, who are 7-3 against the Orioles and who need wins to stay in the wild card race.

After this homestand, the Orioles play nine games on the West Coast followed by a homestand against Toronto, the New York Yankees and Houston. Following that will be a road trip to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. So yeah, pretty challenging first 33 games out of the break for the club with the worst record in the majors.

But the Orioles did some nice things in those last three series, so now we find out if that was just a blip or the radar or a sign of better times to come beginning tonight.

Roster shuffling: There were a host of roster moves on Thursday that involved the Triple-A Norfolk Tides and Double-A Bowie Baysox following their All-Star breaks:

* OF Austin Hays, reinstated from Norfolk’s injured list.
* OF DJ Stewart, joins Norfolk on MLB rehab assignment.
* OF Cedric Mullins, transferred from Norfolk to Bowie.
* IF Christopher Bostick, reinstated from Norfolk’s temporary inactive list.
* RHP Matt Wotherspoon, activated by Tides after being outrighted by Orioles.
* RHP Josh Lucas, activated by Tides after being outrighted by Orioles.
* LHP Luis Gonzalez, transferred Norfolk to Bowie.
* LHP Chris Lee, released.
* C Martin Cervenka, reinstated from Bowie’s injured list.
* C Stuart Levy, placed on Bowie’s seven-day injured list.
* RHP Steven Klimek, placed on Bowie’s seven-day injured list.

New rankings: ESPN released Keith Law’s updated midseason top 50 prospect rankings. He included recent O’s draft pick catcher Adley Rutschman, ranking him as the No. 7 prospect in all of baseball. Left-handed pitcher DL Hall of the Frederick Keys was ranked No. 35.

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