With a Run Differential of -152, pitching needs to keep men from scoring if The Buck Truck wants to compete.
Heading into the 2012 season there are very few reasons to be excited if you’re an Orioles fan. But to be clear, there are still things to be excited about.
The power supply is certainly in this line-up, even if it’s a tad inconsistent (especially to compete in the AL East). But with Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, and Adam Jones there is certainly some consistency in the top of this order.
The problem lies in Mark Reynolds (.221), Chris Davis, (.255), and Matt Weiters (.261) driving in those ducks on the pond.
Even with Reynolds' 37 home runs, he was one of the least efficient sluggers in baseball (just 86 RBIs), and he continued his streak of leading the league in strikeouts with 196 (only 75 BB). This lineup will have trouble finding consistency if someone can’t become the RBI machine in the 4 spot that they need (Baltimore turns its lonely eyes to you Mr. Wieters).
Now onto the bad news. (Wow… That was the good news?)
This rotation may be one of the worst in the majors on paper. With Brian Matusz coming off of a dismal year (1-9 with an ERA of 10.69), there does not seem to be anyone ready to pick up the slack.
Tsuyoshi Wada brings some fresh blood, but the 5’11″ 170lb lefty is 31, and with a career in the Nippon league that was at best, pretty good. I wouldn't expect him to have a ceiling higher than 10 wins and a 4.75 ERA.
The rest of the rotation consists of youthful arms with upside with no real track record. The most intriguing is former Ranger, Tommy Hunter, who is one year removed from posting 13 wins and a 3.73 ERA. Hunter has the build of an innings eater at 6’3″ 280lbs. With some polishing, he could be the cement this rotation needs.
There isn’t a lot to look at in this department, but the few proven arms hanging around the bullpen this season all seem to have something to prove.
Kevin Gregg is back as the de facto closer. With some success in this role, it’s his job to lose.
As far as who’ll be gunning for Gregg’s job it’ll be between perennial set-up men; lefty Darren O’Day and righty Matt Lindstrom. With Darren O’Day healthy (6-2, 0.88 WHIP in ’10) and Matt Lindstrom a career WHIP machine (1.44) O’Day will be first in line to snatch any save opportunities not slotted for Gregg
The Buck Truck had some bright spots last year, even if it was as a spoiler rather than a contender. Buck Showalter will have himself a slightly more confident group to mold in 2012.
Finish: 71 – 91 (Last Place)