Baltimore Orioles: 5 Players the Orioles Need Back in Their Lineup
The Baltimore Orioles started off 2011 with a great win streak. Zach Britton came up from the minors and has pitched spectacularly.
Things looked good, then they started to lose.
Now they sit at 14-16 after a demoralizing loss against the Royals, and although they are sitting in third place in their division, they are on the verge of dropping back into the cellar.
The offense is struggling and some of the pitchers are just getting killed. Nick Markakis is finally showing signs of life, but he started the year terribly. The rest of the offense is underperforming and the Orioles need someone to come in and inject some life into their team.
Here are the internal options that could turn the season around before the losses start piling up.
5. 2009's Nolan Reimold
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Remember that guy? The one that shot his first career home run off of Mariano Rivera? The one that had speed, power and patience? The one that was a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year until he had surgery to repair his achilles tendon?
Luke Scott is dying against left-handed pitchers, hitting just .091 with no home runs. Nolan is still struggling to regain his form, but has recently started to heat up in Norfolk.
The Orioles offense isn't scoring like they were expected to, and Reimold would allow the Os to platoon Scott more and maybe give Derrek Lee a couple of days off.
4. Josh Bell
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Mark Reynolds has been pretty bad at the plate this year, and while Josh Bell isn't tearing up the minors, he could light a fire under Reynolds and Derrek Lee to pick up their hitting because a younger player is pressuring them for at-bats.
Bell could make a few starts at third against right-handed pitching, because he is a great left-handed hitter and he matches up better than the right-handed Reynolds. This competition is needed because Reynolds needs to know that his job isn't safe if he isn't hitting.
3. Justin Duchscherer
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If Chris Tillman's terrible start against the Royals was a sign of anything, it was that the O's need some help to stabilize their young pitchers. Josh Rupe and Jason Berken can't keep eating innings like this all year.
That's why it's such a shame that Duchscherer hasn't begun his Orioles career. I'll admit that I'm not quite sure if he'll ever get the chance, due to his chronic hip injuries, but he'd certainly be an upgrade if he could hit the field.
Justin has always been a fantastic pitcher when he toes the rubber, but he can't seem to make it onto the mound to prove it in recent years. Hopefully, Duchscherer can be ready by early June, when he can come off of the 60-day DL.
The Os could really use his veteran leadership and quality pitching.
2. J.J. Hardy
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Hardy's been out for a couple weeks with an oblique injury, and it's scary to think that Cesar Izturis is getting at-bats. I have nothing against Izturis as a person, but I can't stand to watch him hit because he just can't do anything offensively.
Despite Hardy's injury, the Orioles have had nice play from Robert Andino at shortstop. But Hardy was a big pickup for the Orioles in the offseason, and he needs to fulfill his end of the bargain.
Hardy had a great spring and made the bottom of the order look very good. So, his bat needs to be back. He also plays short very well and his strong arm could be very helpful.
Hardy is about to begin a rehab stint, so he should be back soon to take back his job from Andino.
1. Brian Matusz
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This was the toughest injury for the Os. Brian Matusz ended 2010 with a 7-1 record and a 2.18 ERA, from August to the end of the season. He seemed to have taken the next step to becoming a star, until he felt discomfort a couple days before his first start of 2011, which has kept him out all year.
Matusz has started throwing again and should be back in the next few weeks, but the Os could really use his arm instead of Brad Bergesen or Chris Tillman.
A rotation that includes Matusz, Britton and Guthrie could make the Orioles a tougher opponent. Add in Jake Arrieta and the Os could get back to making noise like they did in the first week of the season.