Things are not going well for team Baltimore. The pitching staff has been decent, with a 4.13 ERA, and a surprising 8.1 K/9. The 4.0 BB/9 and 1.2 HR/9 can’t continue at those levels though, but it should all balance out as the strike-out rate regresses. Using 3.2 as the constant, the O’s FIP^ of 4.46 is probably only a little better than it will be at the end of the year. It’s the offense that’s been the problem. O’s batters are hitting just .236/.314/.374 and scoring 3.2 runs per game. Their walk rate of 8.4% is below average, and if you take out Nick Markakis and his 9 free passes it’s an unacceptable 5.0%. The .279 BABIP^ will go up – and with it the batting average – but the lack of walks and power is troublesome. To make matters worse, Brian Roberts is going on the disabled list* due to his abdominal strain (Justin Turner will come up to take his spot on the roster).
* Because when you’re recovering from a back injury, nothing is smarter than trying to steal second base in the first inning.
I didn’t think scoring runs would be a big issue for the team, but it has been thus far. Should turn around at some point, though it might not be tonight as they’ll need to deal with Matt Garza (and the Rays defense). Jeremy Guthrie goes for the Orioles, and can guarantee a win with a shutout. I’ll be at the game for a Baseball Prospectus event, so no line-ups and a late game wrap again. Setting the over/under on O’s runs at 3.
Garza’s first start of 2010, against the O’s:
I looked at his stuff last time. The guy can be dominating when he’s on his game and throwing strikes; Orioles batters can’t afford to help him out by swinging at fastballs at the letters and breaking-balls in the dirt.
Jeremy was solid in his first start in Tampa Bay, and the way the offense is going he’ll need to be at least as good again.