There is a lot more right with the Orioles than wrong, but a quarter of the way into the season, there are a number of things that could be improved. Here are:
Five things that have gone wrong for the Orioles
1) The fifth starter
Two of the top four starters, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, are currently on the disabled list. That’s not good because starters other than Chen, Gonzalez, Jason Hammel and Chris Tillman are a combined 1-5 with a 6.71ERA this season.
Jake Arrieta, Freddy Garcia, Josh Stinson, Zach Britton and Steve Johnson have proven unreliable. Only Garcia’s first start, when he threw six no-hit innings, was a good one.
Jair Jurrjens will start in place of Chen on Saturday, and if he pitches well, Garcia’s spot may be in jeopardy if Gonzalez is able to return next week.
2) Second base
While Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla have played well in the field in Brian Roberts’ absence, they’ve hit a combined .158. Roberts was 5-for-12 in his first three games before injuring his right hamstring.
Flaherty’s .133 average doesn’t bode well for his long-term future, but manager Buck Showalter seems reluctant to play the switch-hitting Casilla regularly. Casilla does bring speed. He hasn’t been thrown out in his five stolen base attempts this season.
Yamaico Navarro was promoted on Tuesday, but the utility man is probably a placeholder and may be returned to Norfolk when Jurrjens is activated on Saturday.
Some fans have called for Jonathan Schoop. He’s currently out with a back strain, but the Orioles would like him to play more at the Triple-A level before he gets a shot.
Roberts has at least five more weeks before he’s ready to play.
3) Nolan Reimold
The Orioles had hoped for a big comeback year from Reimold, who didn’t play after April last year. He’s batting just .188, and just 2-for-23 in his last six games.
Reimold doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy of losing his roster spot yet, because there doesn’t appear anyone at Norfolk the Orioles are dying to promote though Russ Canzler, L.J. Hoes, Jason Pridie and Danny Valencia are all hitting well. Pridie is currently on the disabled list with a strained groin.
He’s been kind of a symbol for the team’s struggles at designated hitter, and he’s only played the outfield once this month.
It was assumed that when Wilson Betemit returned from the disabled list that either Chris Dickerson or Steve Pearce would be returned to Norfolk. That may no longer be the case.
4) Wilson Betemit
The Orioles miss Betemit. That’s kind of ironic because for much of the season’s first four months, Betemit’s defense at third base was considered something that was holding the team back.
When Manny Machado replaced Betemit at third, the team’s fortunes rapidly improved.
Late in spring training, Betemit suffered a severely sprained right knee which required surgery. It was a frightening injury, and Betemit appeared somewhat relieved when he said he’d miss six-eight weeks.
Betemit has yet to begin baseball drills in Sarasota, Fla., and now the hope is he can return sometime in June.
The Orioles don’t’ need or want him in the field, though they don’t have a legitimate backup at first base on the roster. They don’t especially want him as a right-handed hitter, but they love how the switch-hitter hits from the left side.
5) Pedro Strop
Strop allowed an earned run on Wednesday afternoon, and while Showalter is saying all the right things about him, there remains legitimate doubt about his consistency. He’s walked 11 batters in 15 innings.
For much of last season, he was the eighth-inning guy, but even after the departure of Luis Ayala, Strop hasn’t regained his place.
Darren O’Day and even Tommy Hunter seem to be ahead of him as set-up men, and because Hunter and the left-handed T.J. McFarland can pitch multiple innings, that sets him back, too.
NOTES: The Orioles’ game this Saturday against Tampa Bay will be on FOX. Game time will be 4:05 p.m. Dick Stockton and Brian Anderson will be the announcers.
-Minor league infielder Zelous Wheeler has been transferred to Norfolk from Bowie. He’ll take Pridie’s place on the roster.Cale Iorg, who was signed earlier this season as a free agent, has been added to the Baysox’s active roster.
-Taylor Teagarden will have his dislocated left thumb examined today in Sarasota. When he hurt it on Apr. 27, it was estimated he’d miss three-four weeks. Teagarden was 0-for-13 when he was hurt, and Chris Snyder, who was acquired to temporarily back up Matt Wieters, is 1-for-7.