O’s pitching stats are trending in the right direction

Let’s take a few moments today to appreciate the recent improved play of the Orioles. I’ll throw some player and team stats into the beginning of this entry that illustrate that better play.

I will add that some of this was surprising to me and I’ve watched every pitch of the 2020 season.

* Over the last 14 games, the team ERA is 3.26. That has brought their season ERA down from 4.99 to its current 4.38 which ranks eighth-best in the American League. The 2019 final team ERA was 5.59, which was last in the AL.

Akin-Throws-Gray-Sidebar.jpg* O’s starting pitchers pitched to an ERA of 0.55 in winning the last three games versus the Yankees. The trio of Jorge López, Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer gave up four runs (one earned) over 16 1/3 innings with eight walks and 17 strikeouts.

* Over the last seven games, O’s starters have pitched to an ERA of 2.70. This stretch began with Akin’s first major league start against Toronto. Good pitching can lead to wins, I’ve heard, and the Orioles are 5-2 in this stretch.

* The O’s bullpen gave up only two earned runs over 15 1/3 innings in the series against the Yankees. Over the past 12 games, the O’s bullpen has produced an ERA of 2.52.

* The O’s offense finally perked up again during the 4-2 homestand against the Mets and Yankees. They scored 35 runs and hit 10 homers in the six games. The team batting average was .284 and team OPS .840 during that span.

* Hanser Alberto is batting .350 during a 10-game hitting streak, going 14-for-40 with 14 singles. He had 11 doubles in his first 20 games but has none in his past 12.

* José Iglesias is batting .396 (21-for-53) during a 12-game hitting streak with six doubles and seven RBIs.

* Ryan Mountcastle drove in six runs in the last three wins over the Yankees. He is batting .333 (4-for-12) with runners in scoring position. Mountcastle has a batting average of .333 and an OPS of .943 both at home and on the road.

* Rio Ruiz is finally starting to hit again. He’s batting .346 (9-for-26) during an eight-game hitting streak.

* Pat Valaika is 10-for-23 (.435) over his last eight games.

The Orioles went 12-8 in the season’s first 20 games. At that point, they were in second place in the AL East, two games out of first and holding the No. 4 AL playoff seed.

They have gone 7-13 in the last 20 games to fall under .500 and out of a playoff berth. But as last night’s games began, they were two games behind the Yankees for the No. 8 AL playoff spot.

The 5-2 run has put them back into contention with 20 games left to play. In the National League, the No. 8 playoff seed had a record of 20-21 as of Monday night, so the O’s would be just a half-game back in the NL.

Whether they stun an entire industry and make the postseason or not, the bigger picture and long-term picture looks better in just the last couple of weeks. Seeing young players like Mountcastle, Akin and Kremer arrive and play well has provided a lift for the team and its fans.

The O’s traded Richard Bleier, Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro, yet their bullpen still looks very capable and sports a bunch of mid-to-high 90s velocity pitchers.

They keep losing players to injuries, yet they keep finding others to step up and help them to continue the chase for a .500 record.

They sure won more in the first 20-game stretch then in the second 20 games. But the final 20 might prove to be the most fun of them all to watch.

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