The Orioles will win 95 games this year.That’s right moose breath, the O’s are going to win 95 games this season. Let’s start with the pitching. If healthy Jair Jurrjens becomes the best pitcher on the staff. He’s had knee problems which caused a dramatic drop in his velocity but his first spring outing had the former Brave hit 93 mph. If he doesn’t make it through the spring look for Hammel, Chen, Britton, Tillman and Gonzalez as your starters…and all should be improved from last year. Hammel pitched really well before getting injured around the All Star break. He’s healthy so a full year of Hammel could garner 16 wins from the right hander. Chen not only was making his major league debut last year he was living in a new country, new language, new culture, yet pitched pretty consistent ball so a year’s experience should help a great deal coming into 2013. He could win 13 games. Tillman came up after the season had started and pitched well and he could win 15 games. He’s still very young and should get better now that he has some solid experience in the bigs. Britton is a young, hard throwing lefty with a real good sinker (the perfect pitch for Camden Yards). He was injured all of last year and pitched in only a handful of games when he came up from the minors in the second half last year.but has been throwing the ball well in Sarasota. Britton could win 14 games. Gonzo pitched at a high level and he had missed almost 2 years to injuries prior to the orioles acquiring the right hander from the Mexican League. Gonzo should be physically stronger this year and could win 14 games.The bullpen is back with JJ, Hunter, Strop, O’Day, Ayala, Patton and Matusz, unless Matusz is sent to Norfolk to start and McFarlane will make the 25 man roster and be another lefty in the ‘pen. The bullpen comes up with another 23 wins and JJ saves 48.
In case of injuries or off years I still have confidence in Arrieta and Matusz as starters and Steve Johnson was extremely effective last year. Don’t forget, Bundy and Gausman are on the fast track pitching in Bowie and both could be with the Orioles by August or September to start or pitch out of the bullpen.Left field should be a much more productive position in 2013 with McClouth starting the season with the team and the return of Nolan Reimold, who has power, is a patient hitter, decent left fielder and has speed. This duo could be like Roenicke and Lowenstein with less humor, more speed. Adam Jones has gotten better every year. Nick spent half the year on the dl and in between injuries played some of his best ball ever.Manny is at third from game one and you all remember how poorly various third basemen played last year until the kid came up around Aug. Castillo/Roberts-individually and/or collectively should bring stability to second and Davis, who hit 33 hr’s in his first full season in the big leagues now has a home at first. Hardy may regain some of his hitting stroke but even if he doesn’t he has some power and there is no reason why there should be any let down with his defense.The team defense, which was one of the worst in baseball from April to the end of July became the best defense in baseball from Aug to the end of the year. At this time Davis is the key to maintaining that defensive advantage. I’m guessing Flatery and Teegarden will make the club with perhaps Steve Pearce and Castillo if Roberts starts at second.The Orioles should have plenty of power, enough speed and very well could be a very good defensive team but it usually comes down to pitching and I thnk the O’s will be fine there. I think the only position player in the minors that could help later in the season is Jonathan Schoop if they need a second baseman or utility infielder. I don’t think Avery or Loes will be a factor. Even without picking up anyone significant in the off season that wasn’t with the team when the year ended, the Orioles could very well be a better team this year than 2012.And, honestly, I usually have greater expectations than most this time of year so if you’re not as optomistic as I am I understand.Blog from Freddy from Boca