Pitching will win you pennants for sure. Lately, the O's have gotten excellent pitching. Last night for 12 innings, the O's kept the powerful Angels off the scoreboard in an effort to sweep the series. That it didn't happen is because the O's hitters were shut down. And that will happen against good pitching.
With two months to play and a slim 1 1/2 game lead over red-hot Toronto, the O's will need a combination of good pitching and timely hitting to keep their lead. A couple of key hitters will have to step up and re-join the party.
Nelson Cruz---we were all calling him the real deal in April and May. Perhaps the effects of not juicing have caught up with him because he has been a huge zero in June and July. Cruz's last two months production is pretty ugly and certainly not worthy of either playing everyday or being in the heart of the lineup (esp with the likes of a very capable DH in Delmon Young, mostly rotting on the bench) Cruz is 4-36 over the past 10 games with 1 HR and 1 RBI. He is 0 for his last 17,. For July he went 20-95 with 4 HR's and 9 RBI. Thats a .211 BA to go along with a .215 BA in June. His extra base power numbers have disappeared. The bat has become very weak. I think the O's need to be very concerned that this isn't just a little power outage or slump---seems to be a trend.
Chris Davis--currently hitting .198. He is 6-33 in the last 10 games with 2 HR's and 3 RBI. While batting average doesn't tell the whole story...it does tell at least part of the story for a guy coming off a monster season and who also hits in the heart of the lineup. Davis hit .167 in July and .175 in June. Those are ugly numbers. To his credit, he has managed to do something with the hits he does get. Over those two months he hit 10 HR's and drove in 26. Looking more and more like Mark Reynolds every day. Davis has fanned 74 times in 175 official AB's over the past two months. He has whiffed 124 times so far this season, averaging one 'k' every 2.5 official AB's. His OBP is .310, which means he still can draw a walk.
However my point is that you really can't continue to have two hitters in the heart of the lineup hitting this poorly and producing so little. These are go-to guys, not the Schoops and Flaherty's of the lineup.
An argument can be made that if we tolerated Mark Reynolds, and appreciated when he did come thru with key HR's, we can also deal with Davis puny BA;; all his k's but also his occasional game winning blasts. Despite all the times he doesn't do anything productive, he still represents a threat every time he steps in.
Not so with Cruz. Watch his AB's. He no longer represents any kind of threat. Its a rarity when he hits the ball hard. He is not the same guy we saw in April and May when he carried the team.
I believe the O's need to sit Cruz for awhile and ride Delmon Young while his bat is hot. Two months to go and apparently there will be little breathing room in the AL East, if the O's want to get to post season. While it may be wrong to complain about a team with the 3rd best record in the American League....its how you finish that counts. These last 2 months won't be easy and the O's have to be as good as they can possibly be. They need to reclaim the heart of their lineup to do so.
Totally concur. The problem is compounded when you have Schoop/Flaherty and Joseph/Hundley hitting 8 and 9. They also have not really produced much. Somehow the O's have got to get Davis and Cruz contributing or this team is sunk. There is just no way around it. Come playoff time, if we hold onto that slim lead, you can't have 4 voids in the lineup.
The good news is we have two months to right those guys but it better happen sooner rather than later. Toronto has a better lineup than the O's right now and they have a fair schedule advantage over us the rest of the way.
When you have 'slumped' for 2 months...you have issues. Me, I'd sit Cruz before sitting Davis. As I have stated, Davis still represents a threat every AB. Not so much Cruz anymore. He hasn't really been a threat since the end of May. At all.
They should both be in the lineup. Too much of a threat to sit. I could see either getting a night off for Young and/or Lough, but not too often.
As for the future, I'd put my chips on Cruz. He's delivered big numbers for several years. Davis, once... luckily we have another year before we have to decide on him. I think one thing that the O's proved by letting Mark Reynolds walk a couple years ago is that he is not a unique player. He's got value, sure, but it can be replaced. The question is, how much was that "replaced value" skewed by Davis' career year? Reynolds didn't even make it all the way thru the season last year. He was dropped by Cleveland. My point is, those low BA, high-SO guys are available, it seems to me. Davis has not differentiated himself from those. Cruz has. I'd place bets that Cruz breaks out of his slump, but also equal money that Davis continues to struggle. If it's an injury to Davis that we don't know about, I might amend my thinking a little.
I want to believe Cruz will snap out of it...but remember, he was good when he was on the juice. His AB's for a good two MONTHS have been pretty bad overall. He is not driving the ball and the hits are getting fewer and fewer. Despite Davis terrible BA and high k count over the same span of time, I'd rather see him up in a game situation right now...IF I had to choose.
Cruz is a major concern to me. Are we finally seeing the results of him being 'clean'??? I don't know. but I don't like what I am seeing.
Who do you play? Young is as streaky as anyone in the game and we are seeing Pearce come back to life batting under 200 the last month with 1 HR. I would be playing Davis and Cruz as much as possible and I will say this again:play Lough more! He is hitting over 300 his last 50 AB's and his defense will keep the runs down. You virtually have a gold glove field with Joseph-Davis-Schoop-Hard-Machado-Markakis-Jones and Lough. Good as it gets in the field.
naca72 wrote: Cruz just needs to find whatever the next untraceable performance-enhancing drug is...there has to be some kind of rhinoceros semen or something crazy out there that will get his bat booming again.
I nominate this for stupid post of the year award.
This season Young has not been streaky. He has been consistently over .300 whenever he gets to play. I do submit that Lough has perked up some. Honestly, if Cruz is going to continue to give us weak AB's there is no reason to keep him in there. O's have DH's they can use for awhile. Right now he is no different than Pearce....who has just plain cooled off. Cruz is ice cold. I'd spell him for a few games.
Its pretty unusual to have two major power hitters both go deep into the tank at the same time, for this long. Cruz is totally lost at the plate right now. 3 more k's last night. I really don't understand why he is still in the lineup. I understand 'potential' but where has it been for the last 60 days? Davis, if this keeps up may suffer one of the biggest one season drops in every offensive category in O's history. (I'm scrambling for Brady's dropoff after the 50 HR season)
Interesting to note however that HR's are down this year. Only one player (a rookie at that) has 30 HR's and despite Cruz being completely shut down he is still 2nd in the AL with 29. In the NL the numbers are worse with Miami's Stanton (who??) leading with 26 followed by Cubs Rizzo with 25..then it drops off to 21.
Clearly this is the year of the pitcher. Even the number of .300 hitters is way down. Maybe not quite as bad as when the batting champ of the AL in 1968 hit .301.
Its surprising that despite all the great pitching, the leaders in wins so far only have 13.
This is a tough situation because you've got three guys, Davis, Cruz, and Pearce, all of whom were key players at some point this season, basically drop off the map in July (and Cruz and Davis since June). It's really tough because these are all middle of the order guys. I doubt anyone is as worried about Pearce as they are Davis and Cruz, for obvious reasons, but it's still tough since you can't consciously just start Pearce over either player since he's not en fuego anymore. Young has been solid all season long and absolutely does need to be getting at least 3 or 4 starts a week while he's hot because we're in the stretch run now; no time to keep working through slumps.
You've gotta wonder what they're planning on doing here with waiver trades looming. I'm sure there are going to be a few players who clear waivers that the O's would benefit by trading for. However, it's more likely they're going to have to just push through, hope guys can get right, and Buck pushes the right buttons. It's tough that we're dealing with this now, fortunately they've got a bevy of other players who are doing just fine.
DiscoJamal wrote: That bat will come back around -we've been facing a ton of great pitching since the AS break.
Yes we have but herein lies the problem. This is exactly what you see in the playoffs, great pitching. This team is built for a 162 game season. I am not sure they are built for October?
But we are winning of the majority of these games. Who thought our starting pitching would be so strong? The struggling offense (Cruz and Davis in particular) is very frustrating to watch but we also just went two weeks back to back against three of the best pitching staffs in the majors, much less the league...and we've won, what 10 out of 16.
I think that translates nicely to our chances of success in terms of October baseball.