It won’t always be this simple, but it is so far in the second half of the 2021 season. The Orioles are unbeaten when their starter pitches six innings or more. They have done that in six of the 15 games since the All-Star Game and the Orioles are 6-0 in those games.
It should be pointed out that they actually had a losing record of 7-9 in the 16 games in which their starter went six or more innings during the first half of the season. But getting better and deeper starts is one big reason why the club is 9-6 since the break.
In the series at Detroit, O’s starters pitched 23 innings, and that meant the bullpen had to cover just 11 innings, a much more workable ratio. While they have had some short starts since the break, the O’s starters have thrown 76 2/3 innings since the All-Star Game, compared to 54 for the bullpen. Slow progress, and the Orioles have to hope that John Means and the rejuvenated Matt Harvey can carry their rotation down the stretch and lead it to more innings to, hopefully, lead the team to more wins.
In the last 13 games, the starters have gone 5 2/3 innings or more eight times, including yesterday. Their starter has allowed one earned run or zero six times in the past 13 games.
Let’s see how all these numbers look after the three-game series in the Bronx against the Yankees that begins tonight. But with Bruce Zimmermann getting closer to a return, maybe the rotation is in better shape now than at any time this year.
Harvey has been showing leadership: We hear often about the term “veteran leadership.” On a younger and rebuilding team like the Orioles with not many veterans, such leadership can be very important.
They have gotten it this year from Harvey. At 32, he has now made 165 career starts for five teams. He pitched in the 2015 World Series for the New York Mets.
The Orioles found out this year that Harvey would be a great teammate every day, even as he was going through a miserable 11-start stretch from mid-May into July during which his ERA was 11.20.
“He talks about the great teammates he had early on in his career,” manager Brandon Hyde said before Saturday’s game. “Veteran guys that made an influence on him. Some of the older pitchers that he was with in New York early, to David Wright, etc. Talked about how they were in the clubhouse.
“I think one thing I’ve been really impressed with, no matter how bad things have been or how bad his start was, he is in the dugout for nine innings the four days he’s not pitching. Supporting his team. Supporting the other pitcher. He walks down with the rest of our group to watch our starter warm up every single night and walks into the dugout. He’s just there. And he’s always showing support for other players.
“And for a veteran guy, you know, that has had some ups and downs this year, he’s been really, really consistent with that. I give him a lot of credit for, you know, kind of riding the wave of having some disappointing starts. Really happy for him right now, the way he has thrown the ball these last three starts. Just saw him a little while ago and you can tell he’s in a good place right now.
“Just really impressed with how he is with our team. As a veteran, if you are with a club that is not winning, sometimes that can be even more detrimental. He has been great, him and Freddy (Galvis) have both been wonderful.”
Nice weekend debuts: On Friday night, right-hander Mike Baumann made his Triple-A debut as Norfolk beat Durham in a game shortened to five innings by rain. Baumann allowed two runs to the first four batters he faced and then threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings on one hit. He was rolling through five. His fastball touched 96 and 97 mph to his last few hitters, and he was throwing in the mid-90s.
One scout’s report said he was getting a whiff rate of about 60 or 65 percent on his slider, a strong pitch for Baumann over many years. He was throwing his slider at an average velocity of 90.5 mph. By comparison, Tanner Scott’s hard slider comes in at 88.7 mph on average.
Over his past five starts - between Double-A Bowie and the one with Norfolk - Baumann has a 2.33 ERA. Over 27 innings he has allowed 17 hits with four walks to 30 strikeouts. Baumann threw 74 pitches in that game, and if the rain had not hit after the fifth inning, he was likely headed back to the mound for more pitches.
He is already on the 40-man, so he could definitely find his way onto the O’s roster before this year is out.
On Saturday night, 21-year-old lefty Drew Rom had a strong Double-A debut after moving up from high Single-A Aberdeen to Bowie. He got the win against Richmond, throwing five innings on four hits and one run. He walked two and fanned six on 77 pitches. Rom throws his fastball between 89 and 94 mph and shows quality breaking pitches. He is an athletic lefty who can keep hitters off balance using different arm slots, something a bit unique. He has a good split-finger pitch.
Taken in round four out of a Kentucky high school in 2018, Rom is the O’s No. 25 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com, and No. 26 according to Baseball America. For the season he is now 9-0 with a 2.72 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. No other O’s minor league pitcher has more than seven wins.
Draft picks are ready to go: This week we will begin to see many members of the Orioles 2021 draft class take the field for one or both teams the O’s field in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League.
Top pick Colton Cowser and second-rounder Connor Norby will be among those that debut this week - and possibly as early as today. The draft picks could play somewhere between 10 and 20 games in Florida before the club considers moving them to full-season ball with low Single-A Delmarva.