The six biggest storylines of the Orioles' first half - and what happens with each one now - Page 3 of 7 -
Dan Connolly

The six biggest storylines of the Orioles’ first half — and what happens with each one now

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

5. The Britton effect

I’ve been told for years, and have been given data that supports it, that the ninth inning is like any other inning. And that any effective reliever can serve in the closer’s role. I’m sure there is some truth to that, though I think the pressure that comes with the ninth – facing a team in a close game with the opposing players fighting for their last chance at victory – is more pronounced than in any other frame. I’m also a believer that human beings thrive when they know how they’ll be used and what is expected of them, assuming they have the tools to complete the job. To me it’s more about knowing your role than when that role actually occurs. So, when an effective closer leaves his role, it creates a domino effect, and each reliever below him must step into another spot. Some will struggle with that change mentally, and others may not have the physical tools to succeed in the new position. That’s what I think happened with the Orioles’ bullpen when closer Zach Britton missed a large chunk of time with a forearm injury. Brad Brach did a fine job filling in, but everyone had to move up a slot, and that affected the overall performance of the usually stout bullpen. Britton’s back now, and assuming he is healthy, things should return to normal. In fact, the bullpen could be better now that guys such as Mychal Givens, Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro have had success in “elevated” situations.



  1. JCO

    July 11, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Great rundown, Dan. Wondering this about Gausman…everything I’ve read seems to indicate the base of his issues is mental, so do the Orioles employ a sports psychologist? I really have no idea, given the Orioles penchant for doing things that make little sense. I’d imagine one could help him.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 11, 2017 at 9:15 am

      They do. Or have anyway. I haven’t seen him around recently, but I’m sure if the Orioles and/or Gausman think he could benefit from such, I’m sure that option would be available.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        July 11, 2017 at 1:55 pm

        Not around lately? Allow me to fill in by paraphrasing a certain 2 bit Carnie once under the employ of the New York Knights ….

        “We must ask ourselves, what is losing? Losing …. Losing is a disease … as contagious as bubonic plague.”

  2. BBaby54

    July 11, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Good stuff. . A lot of ands ,ifs ,and buts but we can still get it done . Heres to a 50 win second half !

    • Dan Connolly

      July 11, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Way too many ifs for my comfort.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    July 11, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Yeah, that thing I said about Aaron Judge possibly losing steam and Mancini creeping into the ROTY discussion in the second half? I’m gonna need Dan and Steve to go ahead and delete that one from the site please.

    • Osfan73

      July 11, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Judge didn’t break a sweat last night in the HR derby. He didn’t look fatigued at all in that final round where Sano was sucking all kinds of air. He has a chance to be a very good player for quite some time, and a big thorn in our side as well!

      • Bancells Moustache

        July 11, 2017 at 5:32 pm

        Yeah Os Fan, I couldn’t help watching that display last night thinking this guy is REALLY gonna make things difficult in Camden Yards for the next decade or so. And you are right, his being juxtaposed (stole one of Connolly’s $10 words) next to Sano was telling. Sano was taking such violent hacks, complete with hair and gold chains flying to and fro while Judge looked like he was casually taking a few swings at the driving range after work. Watching Sanchez whack 500 footers didn’t exactly make me feel good either. Ugh, another 10 years of awesome Yankees teams.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 11, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      I believe you to have doubted him as the 2nd coming of Babe Ruth. What were you thinking?

    • Dan Connolly

      July 11, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Come on, Stache. I only delete posts when I’m wrong. Good to be the King (or the Judge). :).

  4. Ben1

    July 11, 2017 at 11:15 am

    my hope is high for the rotation but expectations low. just hope Buck can keep it competitive until we can attract a REAL GM.

    • Osfan73

      July 11, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      Would like to see a trade or 2 with an eye to the future as I just don’t believe the starting pitching is anywhere what it needs to be for a playoff run. The only other thing ill be watching/hoping for is for this team to show some pride and perform closer to their capabilities. It’s not that bad of a team. Just need more consistency across the board.
      Also would like to see Kim get more PT. And if you’re not going to play him then get something in return for him and lets see what Sisco and Mountcastle can do.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      I don’t sense there is much of a market for Kim. He’s owed a couple million and is viewed

    • Dan Connolly

      July 11, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Oops. … as a platoon player.

      • bobbymac824

        July 13, 2017 at 9:11 am

        Looks like he is flipping the bird in photo but that’s so not Kim! 😉

  5. ATCguy

    July 11, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    As a retired guy who travels around the country in his RV, watching the team via satellite TV… I realize this is easy to say. And as such, I’m not advocating it. But as long as the fans keep filling 30-40% of the seats every game at the Yards, management will have no real motivation to do anything differently than they have the past few years.

    I’ve said this before… for the ownership, it’s a business model and they’re turning a profit. Love him, hate him, or whatever… I think DD is doing the exact job ownership hired him to do: put a competitive team on the field, that will keep the fans engaged. If they win, great… but competitive is good enough. As long as ticket sales, concessions, and TV money keep pouring in, they’re making money.

    Not being in the area and reading the local sports pages, or watching local TV coverage… I’m quite sure I may have missed it. But I can’t recall ever hearing either Angelos or Duquette saying, ‘Our priority is to win a championship’, as other owners & GMs around the league have done. If they have, I apologize… but that in itself speaks volumes.

    So while I admit that I’d like to see a fire sale & rebuild of the team that could really contend in 3-to-5 years from now, I don’t think it’ll happen. Instead, we can expect to see more of the same during the same period… with the team being just good enough to tease us into possibly making it into the wild-card playoff game.

    • Osfan73

      July 11, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      You’re right it wont happen because Angelos only cares about dollars and cents, he has no baseball sense. He would never allow Manny or the like to be traded even though he knows he’ll never be able to sign him long-term. All that matters to him is the here and now and players with Manny’s talent sell tickets and put butts in the seats. He’s like MLBs version of Jerry Jones, meddlesome. Just because the purse strings were loosened in recent years doesn’t change that.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 11, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Angelos rarely if ever talks on the record. Duquette often talks about winning a title. He’s never gotten one.

    • Jacobs1928

      July 16, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      I agree with you 100%…a complete shakeup using ex O’s in management and building a
      Strong minor league organization….HOW. BY USING THE TALENT WE HAVE …BRITTON,

  6. bobbymac824

    July 13, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Fingers crossed that Britton returns to form, if given the opportunity (the big if), so at least he is trade bait at the deadline.

  7. bobbymac824

    July 13, 2017 at 9:17 am

    “they used 23 different hurlers in the first half”…causing some fans to “hurl” at times 😉

  8. Zevrolious

    July 13, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Dan – not exactly a second half storyline but overall, I think this team needs clarity on the front office. with both buck and duq potentially out of here after 2018, there’s no incentive for them to think past that at the moment. they either need extensions or to move on in some capacity. not sure how they can do anything to the team otherwise until then…

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