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MLB: Nelson Cruz, A Revelation For Orioles


 

Nelson Cruz has been a revelation for the Baltimore Orioles this season. When he was signed in the off-season to a one-year eight million dollar contract the Orioles were expecting big things, and that’s what they have received.

The Orioles have seen some exceptional offense from their roster, and are having a great season because of it.

However, it hasn’t been all great for the Orioles this season as they have had their fair share of injuries. Over the course of the year the Orioles has lost catcher Matt Weiters and third baseman Manny Machado for the season, and has also seen 2013 home run champ, Chris Davis never fully recovered from his early season injury.

Despite the injuries the team has been able to put together an effective offensive year.

With the aforementioned Cruz leading the charge with his 34 home runs and 88 RBI, Baltimore has established itself as one of the more intimidating offenses in the league. They now lead the MLB in home runs and are third in slugging percentage.

The O’s have had effective offensive years from a number of players. Adam Jones has been especially effective with a .288 average and 24 home runs.  While the team has many offensive options, it’s their pitching that might hold them back.

Baltimore tried to fortify their rotation in the offseason with the signing of Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez had a bounce back year in 2013 when he went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA for the Cleveland Indians.

Unfortunately, for Baltimore, Ubaldo has been less than stellar this year going 4-9 with a 4.74 ERA. Jimenez is currently pitching out of the bullpen.  Baltimore is average at best with their pitching and the stats show it. The team ranks 13th out of 30 teams in ERA, and they get a lot of run support from the Orioles offense.

The team leaders are Wei-Yin Chen who is now is top on the team in wins with a superior 13-4 record. Chris Tillman is the team’s leader in ERA (3.41) and strikeouts (116).  The numbers don’t overwhelm you but they are getting it done, but they might need one more starter to be a real threat in the postseason.

However, the Orioles bullpen has been fantastic. While the bullpen doesn’t posses the best team ERA, they seem to get it done when it matters.

Zach Britton, despite being a first-year closer, has been a very effective closer accumulating 27 saves. Darren O’Day has been extremely efficient at the back-end of the bullpen, where he has 21 holds and a miniscule .094 ERA in 57.2 innings pitched.

The team also added Andrew Miller from the Red Sox to add increased bullpen depth.  Baltimore’s offense has definitely got them far during the season, but is it going to be enough to carry the team’s average pitching? Without a true ace on the staff the team doesn’t have a pitcher to rely on, no matter how good the bullpen is the team will find it hard to win in October.

Baltimore will be a playoff team, but for how long?


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