With a weekend series against the Orioles ahead, I sent off some questions to Stacey Long from my favorite Orioles blog, Camden Chat (ok, I'll admit I can't name another Oriole blog off the top of my head, but I do like Stacey's writing).
I see Brian Roberts is out with a concussion. What happened? When is he expected back?
Brian Roberts' concussion is on account of him being a dummy. He first got it towards the end of last year when he purposely conked himself in the head with a baseball bat after striking out. He had concussion symptoms through most of the off season, then as he started feeling better he dove head first into first base in a meaningless Spring Training game. He finally got back from that and then did the same exact thing a few weeks ago and re-concussed himself. There is currently no timetable on his return but between his knack for hurting himself and his back problems from last season, most Orioles fans have stopped relying on Roberts for anything.
More after the Jump.
Your Orioles have been a little offensively challenged, who isn't pulling his weight?
How much time do you have? Derrek Lee is on the disabled list, but he was hitting pretty terribly before that. Ditto Brian Roberts. Mark Reynolds doesn't seem to care that we were promised home runs, because he's not hitting them. Luke Scott says his torn labrum isn't affecting his swing, but something is going on because he's not getting the job done. Nick Markakis...I can't even talk about it. It makes me too sad. And Vladimir Guerrero is getting on base but he's turned into a singles machine.
Could we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers the Jays will be facing? I don't suppose we'll be lucky enough to miss Zach Britton?
No, you're not. In fact, Britton pitches tonight, so to all of the Blue Jays fans out there I say, "Happy Zach Britton Day!" For those unfamiliar, he's the guy who would be getting all the hype for Rookie of the Year if not for that pesky Micheal Pineda. Britton is a power lefty whose fastball can hit up to 95, but sits at 91-92. His money pitch is a sinker that has led to a 54.7% ground ball rate so far this season. He hasn't struck out as many guys as he'd like, with a K/9 of just 4.8, but hopefully that'll go up with time.
Tomorrow night the Blue Jays will face that devilishly handsome Jake Arrieta. Arrieta's fastball is mid-90s and so far this year he's struck out an impressive 8.4 batters per nine innings. Unfortunately he's also walking way more than he should, and he never seems to be able to put away a batter once he gets ahead of him. He goes to way too many three-ball counts, and he's coming off of his worst start of the season in which he lasted only 2.1 innings. He also got hit in the shin by a line drive in that game, and while he says he's fin there may be some residual effects. As you'll see when he pitches, he's got the talent, and he's doing well to mature, but he's hasn't put it all together yet.
The Orioles haven't officially announced a starter for Sunday's game, but since they only have a four-man rotation, it will most likely be Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie is the veteran in the rotation and is having a fantastic year. He's walking a league-low 1.3 BB/9 and has pitched to a 3.24 ERA. What the Blue Jays have going for them in this game is that the Orioles are simply incapable of scoring runs when Guthrie is pitching. In eleven starts Guthrie has made this year, the Orioles have scored a grand total of thirty-three runs. In the innings he has pitched? Twenty-five.
How's our old friend Kevin Gregg doing for you?
Are Oriole fans optimistic about the future? Is next year the year us bird teams fly to the top of the division?
We're optimistic about the pitching, but the hitting has been pretty abysmal and there aren't many answer in the upper levels of the minor leagues. President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail only likes to give big money to relievers who aren't worth it and over-the-hill sluggers, so it's unlikely any big bats will be coming through free agency. That makes it tough to be optimistic. But we do really like the pitching.
Anything else we should know about the Orioles?
This team is more talented than last year, and on any given night the pitching could be spectacular. Adam Jones is on fire and Matt Wieters is the best defensive catchers in baseball. If the Blue Jays try to run on him, he'll gun them down and then toss a bad-ass look over his shoulder as he saunters to the dugout. Also, they hardly ever hit for power and they bunt way too much.