Know Thy Enemy 2009: Baltimore Orioles

Evan BrunellFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2009
Guthrie is a fine pitcher who would serve as a No. 2 on most other teams. He's thrust into the mantle of "ace" for the Orioles, however. He's been lucky over the last two years as his xFIPs in both years were 4.41 and 4.64 respectively as opposed to ERAs of 3.70 and 3.63. Does that mean he's in line for a regression? Not quite. The Orioles' defense is much improved with Cesar Izturis at short and Felix Pie in left field. More concerning than possible regression is his performance in spring training. After getting batted about like a pinball in the World Baseball Classic, his struggles have continued in spring training. 11.1 innings, 7.94 ERA, 14 hits, six walks, nine strikeouts. Walks were his downfall in Cleveland; if he doesn't turn it around and pronto, we could see a very ugly season for Guthrie. ...
No one quite knows what to expect from Koji Uehara, the Japanese import. He has solid strikeout numbers and impeccable control, which would seem to translate well. ... Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projects Uehara to land around a 4.72 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 27 walks in 135 innings to go along with 85 whiffs and 22 home runs. Sounds reasonable. I'd take the under on the ERA, but not much. As long as he doesn't embarrass himself and soaks up innings, the Orioles will gladly take it.
...There's really nothing from the past three years to suggest that Eaton can be a competent starting pitcher, but that only shows you the issues in Baltimore these days. Help is on the way, but not yet, so the Orioles will give Eaton every shot possible to give them innings.
The fifth spot projects to be a rotation all year with fringe prospects looking to establish themselves. Hayden Penn, Brian Bass, Radhames Liz... they are all just keeping the seats warm for the bevy of prospects (top two: Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz) that will hit Baltimore in the next couple of years. Of course, Rich Hill will take his shot in this spot once he returns from injury. A former hotly-touted left-handed pitcher, Hill developed Steve Blass Disease suddenly last year and was moved for a player to be named later just a year after it would have taken some serious players to pry him loose. In 2007, Hill turned heads by posting a 3.92 ERA in 32 starts, walking 63 and whiffing 183 in 195.0 innings. Can he recapture his magic? It's anyone's guess, but recovering from this disease is tough; just ask Rick Ankiel or for you prospect-lovers, Jason Neighborgall.