Tap-In Question: What's your lasting impression from the Orioles' first week? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: What’s your lasting impression from the Orioles’ first week?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

No matter how you slice it, if you are an Orioles fan, you have to be relatively thrilled with this first week of the season.

Just winning each series against division rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, has to be considered a success.

A 5-0 start would have been better, but 4-1 isn’t bad.

Plus, it got the rowdies in the Tap Room to end their “162-0” chant. That was getting kind of ear-splitting, to be honest.

There are 157 games left; the Orioles were going to lose one or 70-some along the way. That’s a fact.

I covered the 2008 Orioles that began 6-1 and produced an Orioles Magic video, only to ultimately lose 93 and finish last in the AL East.

So, as always, I’m dealing out shots of reality here. Because you can get too carried away with a fast start. The flip side, though, is the Orioles began last year 7-0 – five wins at home and two on the road for their best start in club history – and made it to the postseason as a wild card. Yes, every win counts.

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Let’s not waste time today on debating the importance of a fast start, though I’d rather have some perspective from Week 1.

I want to know what struck you most through the first five games of 2017.

For me, it’s twofold: This 2017 Orioles’ bullpen is so very good. It’s excellent every year, but this one is so deep, experienced and varied that it may prove to be the best I’ve witnessed. Now, the second part: The rotation needs to pitch deeper into games or it’s going to burn out the sublime bullpen by June. You just can’t expect four innings or more each night. That concern sound familiar? Like a broken record on Connolly’s jukebox?

I wrote about that concept again Sunday night. I also had a chance to interview reliever Brad Brach about the 2017 bullpen, which was part of my WOYK1350.com radio show Monday evening. You can listen to that interview, my rant about some fans’ off-based beliefs about how to improve the rotation, and a lengthy look at the Orioles’ farm system with our minor leaguer reporter Dean Jones Jr., by clicking here or downloading the podcast version on iTunes.

As for today’s topic, I’m sure there are plenty of moments at Camden Yards that got your attention this week: Seth Smith’s performance, starts by Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, the infield defense. Give me the one that sticks out most to you and why.

Tap-In Question: What’s your lasting impression from Week 1 of the Orioles’ season?

39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Ben1

    April 11, 2017 at 7:06 am

    1) Ubaldo still scary
    2) Starters throw entirely too many pitches still
    i know .. you wanted just one .. so .. if just one then starting pitching is worrisome

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 8:59 am

      Well, those are two good ones intertwined. I won’t grade you on rules-following. Drink chip.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 11, 2017 at 7:31 am

    What struck me most was listening to all my Nat friends at work talk of Matt Wieters raking (as the kids put it) in DC. Sorry, Dan .. I digress …

    What struck me most were the large crowds we witnessed on Saturday and Sunday. Can we the fans keep this up? Is this a sign that the people of Charm City finally believe or is this just indicative of the great weather we had in the first week?

    As far as the team goes, I’ve got more confidence than most in the starting pitching, since I firmly believe Bundy and Gausman are going to go 1/2 in the Cy voting.
    What I’ AM a bit concerned about is is Darren O’day. I know, I know … flu bug. And what was it last year? A hammy? Regardless … are we going to get the O’day of 2014/2015 or are we going to get version 2.016? This pen needs the old O’day … not what we saw on Sunday.

    That’s my take, and I’m sticking to it.

    • Creatively_19

      April 11, 2017 at 8:48 am

      I want to see O’Day pitch a couple more times before I get concerned. Yeah, it was uncharacteristic but he really hadn’t pitched in quite some time. I’d like to see him come in tonight with a 1 run lead and see how he does. I do wonder however if the roles have permanently switched and Brach is now the 8th inning guy – I would be okay with O’Day being used for longer relief or in matchup based spots.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 9:03 am

      Boog: every time Matt gets a hit, I think of you shaking your head. And I noticed the crowds too. Will be interesting to see what they look like the rest of the month.
      And 19: I agree with you that it’s early on O’Day. But I do believe for the most part the roles have switched. I think we’ll see more of Brach in the eighth if he and O’Day are both available.

      • bv22

        April 11, 2017 at 9:41 am

        I think that would be great if they have switched roles and having a vintage O’Day would be the cherry on top. Just think- O’Day in the 7th, Brach in the 8th, Britton in the 9th shortens the game to a 6 inning affair each night. Now, if we can only get the starters to go 6 innings…..

      • bv22

        April 11, 2017 at 9:49 am

        The only thing that stood out to me was this is going to be a repeat of the last 5 years- MLB-caliber offense, great defense, strong bullpen, and no starting pitching. The lack of quality starting pitching is going to catch up with us at some point. They seriously need to get a bonafide starting pitcher or consider bringing the Vanimal or McFarland back to be long men in the bullpen to create that bridge to the 7-8-9 trio of O’Day, Brach, and Britton. The way things currently stand, they’re not going to hang around too long with the other contenders.

  3. general81

    April 11, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Once the offense comes around, I like our chances. A lot. Winning four of five to open the season, coming back for at least two wins … that’s pretty solid. If J.J. Hardy finds his batting stroke, and if the rest of the offense wakes up (he will, and it will), we’re in really good shape.

    Sunday’s bullpen issue was a blip, in my opinion. Guys are still getting used to the season, O’Day is still recovering from the flu … no biggie there. Heck, if Miley can go five or six innings per start with no runs, we could win 110!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 11, 2017 at 8:04 am

      I like this guy’s outlook!

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Yeah. Who brought someone optimistic into this place? Drink chip, general.

  4. Creatively_19

    April 11, 2017 at 8:16 am

    What struck me is that somewhat quietly Chris Davis has started off the year going 6-18 with a 2B and HR (.333/.400/.556) and a 5 game hitting streak. He also has 7 strikeouts, but I’m not sure I care as long as he continues hitting the ball the other 2/3 of the time.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 9:05 am

      The homer to the opposite field got my attention. With Davis, that’s always a big sign

  5. Osfansip

    April 11, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Starters need to go deeper, throw strikes and let the D do its thing.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 9:06 am

      My first take, too.

  6. Mike1966

    April 11, 2017 at 8:48 am

    I like Seth Smith in RF., nice upgrade. We better hope Tilman’s rehab is successful. A two man pitching staff (Gausman & Bundy) isn’t going to cut it.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 9:07 am

      Smith has impressed me so far. I was concerned about a lengthy injury early on in spring for a 34-year-old. But he’s looked good.

      • John in Cincy

        April 14, 2017 at 4:15 am

        And he made a nice catch in the stands at Fenway.

    • Steve Cockey

      April 11, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Gausman, Bundy and pray for …

      I can’t think of a rhyme.

  7. claudecat

    April 11, 2017 at 8:53 am

    It’s hard to pick just one thing that’s emerged as the main theme after just five home games. That fact alone is in the running – all these April off days will come back to haunt us as the summer grind gets under way. I’ll waffle a bit and offer two, one positive and one negative.

    The positive? The crowds and weather this past Saturday and Sunday. Both days the yard was packed with families (safety monitor day on Saturday and of course Kid’s Opening Day Sunday), and both days were just as wholesome as all get out in the stands. Those cotton candy vendors barely had to move as kids converged on ’em as soon as they were visible.

    The negative would have to be (shocker!) the starting pitching. One “quality start” (not a high bar to reach) out of five is not good. To wrap a sparkly bow around this one, it can only get better, right? Please?

    That brings me to a final vaguely related question: after each of the presumed 5th starter guys in AAA had terrible starts, does Alec Asher now become the front runner? I know he pitched 4+ innings of shutout ball last night in his start. Not sure why he was taken out after 70-odd pitches, but if he’s healthy maybe you go with the hot hand? The others were flat out bad, with Aquino the only one that was less than abysmal.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Because of the way it sets up, I’d now be surprised if it weren’t Asher. He pitched the best and is on correct turn. And the pull at 75 pitches also makes me go hmmm.

      • Creatively_19

        April 11, 2017 at 11:32 am

        Perhaps for a feature later this week you can talk to some folks who know him and see if his stuff will play in the big leagues. Asking for a friend in a deep AL only fantasy league….

  8. Raveonjo

    April 11, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Will Kevin Gausman have a break out year? He’s was a college star, first round pick and is now 26 years old.

    It’s time.

    This is his pitching staff right now. For the Orioles to have any chance, Gausman has to avoid the early-round draft pick habit of “failing to launch” (at least failing to launch with the Orioles).

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 10:46 am

      I agree that it is time to see his best. He’d agree with that too.

  9. dodie

    April 11, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Your statement after Ubaldo’s 1st pitched game:
    “I swear I remember some moron writing recently on this site that Ubaldo Jimenez was going to have his best season in an Orioles’ uniform this year.”
    Really, Dan? Ubaldo gets it from all sides, it is very early in the season, the fans have started the negativity also, and reading this, I was so disappointed. I have followed Ubaldo since Denver, I believe in him, and I hope this is his best season. I support the O’s players and coaches as a TEAM. Wish them well this season. Thanks.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 10:48 am

      I was just poking fun at myself. It’s one game. And he’s usually bad in April. This is going to be a season-long watch. So you can’t make any determination for a while. I didn’t mean it to be serious.

      • ubetonit

        April 11, 2017 at 12:13 pm

        Ubaldo has often been bad in months with a vowel.

  10. Kevin on Shore

    April 11, 2017 at 9:49 am

    The diving stop by Manny Machado in extra innings on opening day and the ensuing dig of the throw by Chris Davis. … To rob Jose Bautista, of all players, of enjoying heroics at Camden Yards.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 10:51 am

      That play will definitely stay in the memory for a while.

  11. DPG0124

    April 11, 2017 at 11:10 am

    I like that in the wins on both Friday and Saturday, small ball played a role in winning. On Friday Schoop took an extra base on a throwing error, JJ bunted him over and Seth Smith hit a fly ball that happened to leave the yard. On Saturday they scored runs because both Manny and Trumbo stole 2nd and then were driven in with bloop singles. If the O’s can more consistently play a little bit of small ball I think that’s huge for them.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2017 at 11:13 am

      That’s an excellent observation. Drink chip.

  12. 4Bees

    April 11, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Remember when we drubbed the Phillies with 8 dingers ? And who was the team that scored 12 in one inning against our old friends and reunited battery mates Matt & Jeremy? Well I know it’s early and that both of the teams we won a series against this week are expected to have more wins than losses in ’17, but the thing that stood out to me is still yet to happen. A good old fashioned power show / blow out to give the pen some rest and get the naysayers thinking twice. Good to see some small ball on the part of Davis and Trumbo. Hardly ever see CD sprinting around third on the way to the plate.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Yeah. I’d imagine that’s coming. Especially when it is warm at Camden Yards.

  13. woody

    April 11, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Highlight was Bundy, no doubt – that changeup… Close second was the small ball: JJ Hardy’s bunt, Manny stealing 2nd to score on a single.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Agreed on small ball. Need more of it when 4Bees power show goes dark.

  14. Raymo

    April 11, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    I’ve been enjoying the play of Welington Castillo. He looks good behind the plate and has a great arm and quick release. I’m also influenced by the comments of Rick Dempsey. He seems to be saying that WC is quite an upgrade over Matt. Your thoughts?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 12, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Horsepucky. Matt is twice the catcher.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Dempsey has forgotten more about catching than I know. That said, I never was on board with his full criticism of Wieters and it’s way too early for me to get a sense of Castillo. I’ll say I’m mixed right now but haven’t made a conclusion. Probably won’t for months.

      • John in Cincy

        April 14, 2017 at 4:36 am

        I agree about Castillo (didn’t hear Demper’s critique on Matt). So far, I’m in agreement with you about Welington, though at this early stage of the season, I’ll say I’m cautiously optimistic.

        Last night’s ninth inning was sort of a microcosm. First,he whiffed on Zach’s wild pitch. I was watching the Jay’s telecast, and Buck Martinez and his colleague were talking about how he tried to backhand it, instead of keeping it in front of him by letting it play off of his chest protector. While that may be true, handling a Britton pitch in the dirt can’t be a picnic for any catcher.

        Later in the frame he made a very nice play to prevent another wild pitch, and this time it was at a critical juncture, as the tying run was at third. The technique again left something to be desired, but the result played just fine.

        After the first eight games, most of them with Castillo behind the plate, the Orioles’ overall ERA is a passable 3.95, which is three percentage points better than MLB average. This despite him time to bond with the staff missed by his participation in WBC, and some struggles by both the rotation and bullpen. At the very least I think we can say, “so far, so good”, with his quarter-season grade still quite a ways away..

  15. John in Cincy

    April 14, 2017 at 4:14 am

    My most lasting impression of the first week is easy: Dylan Bundy aka Dealin’ Bundy aka the Dylan Express (my coinages, for what it’s worth) pitching like an Alpha stud.

    He was toying with the Blue Jays, at times he looked like he was pitching to hitters from a lower league. I’m thinking he gave us a glimpse into the future, and my bet is it’s the not too distant future.

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