I was asked to give a pre-season outlook by a local print publication, so here are my feeling as we sit here in early March as the games have just gotten going.
I don't think there's any doubt that the Orioles will be better. If they were in another division, they might even be a team that could flirt with contention. Buck Showalter is the real deal. His impact last year was no fluke. The Orioles line-up has the chance to be top ten. From 1-9, there are no major weaknesses. The fact that Matt Weiters, who not so long ago was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, could be your 8 or 9 hitter tells you something. There are some significant "what ifs." What if Reynolds' strikeouts continue at an alarming number? What if Lee and Hardy can't bounce back from injuries? What if father time catches up with Vlad and Lee? But there seems to be enough depth that the Orioles should hit.
The big question will be the young pitching and whether or not this staff takes the next step. Matusz looks to be a potential number one starter. Regarding the others like Bergesen, Arrietta and Tillman, no one knows whether they are middle of the rotation players are bottom of the rotation guys. This is a year in determining what step they will take. Guthrie has pitched to an ERA under 4 in 3 of his 4 years in Baltimore, but has also had a losing record in 3 of those 4 years. Added run support could be huge boon. As always, injuries will be a major factor. If the Orioles stay healthy, they might flirt with .500, but in the AL East, everything has to go right.
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