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Bird Watching - It's Time We Talked About Zach Britton And The Cy Young

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Different series, same story. The Orioles bats went pretty silent in the series against Oakland. So far on this road trip, they have scored 31 runs in seven games, that averages out to 4.4 runs a game, not bad until you realize 26 of those runs came in three of the 7 games. The runs in the other four games? 2,2,1,0. You take a closer look and you see the offense stinks right now, it’s a problem. They are 3-4 on this road trip with three more in San Francisco coming up.

What is even more frustrating is that in this Oakland series the Orioles were going against one of the bottom 2 pitching rotations in the AL. For christ sakes, Ross Detwiler threw eight shut out innings against the O’s to knock them out of first place. How bad is Ross Detwiler? That was his first win as a starter since 2013. It almost seemed like you knew once the A’s scored a run or two, that this game was over. This may have been a more frustrating series than the Astros series earlier this season when the Orioles struck out 98 times.

Until the second time around the order in the fourth game of the series against former Bowie Baysox closer, Andrew Triggs, the O’s bats couldn’t do anything against Oakland’s pathetic pitching staff. The deeper Triggs got into the game, the better the O’s got, getting a grand slam from Mark Trumbo, a solo dong from Adam Jones, and three RBIs from Pedro Alvarez. Including this offensive outbreak, the Orioles are still slashing .228/.283/.377, fourth worst since the All-Star game.

Even with the O’s dropping three of four against Oakland, they remain in second place, a half game behind Toronto, who takes on Houston this weekend. This is not a good road team, as they are 25-33 away from Camden with 23 of their last 48 games on the road. Have to pick up the pace on the road if they want to make it into October.

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Orioles Starters Are Picking Up The Slack

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Let’s talk about the pitching, mostly the starters. Normally we are shitting on the starters, and talking about how the bats are saving them, other way around now. They have been great on this road trip, putting together 7 quality starts in a row. In August the starters are holding the opposition to an ERA of 3.24, should be good enough to win a game right? They are only 5-5 in that stretch, blame the bats, not the arms.

Chris Tillman was the normal stopper that he was and tossed his 15th quality start yesterday, improving him to 15-4 with a 3.46 ERA, putting him right there in the Cy Young conversation, along with another Oriole. Yovani Gallardo, Wade Miley, and Kevin Gausman all had quality starts, all went six innings, and gave up two runs or less, Gallardo only gave up one, and they all lost. All three losses were by one run, and all winnable games, hopefully we don’t look back and point to this series if the O’s miss out on the division or wild card by a few games.

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Zach Britton Is A Legitimate Cy Young Candidate And Having An Historic Season

Zach Britton is having one of the best seasons by a closer in MLB history, and it’s like no one is talking about it. He is 35-35 in save opportunities, has an ERA of 0.56 in 48 innings pitches, and a WHIP of 0.81. Compare that to the lowest ERA Mariano Rivera ever had in a season, 1.38. Britton also hasn’t given up an earned run since April 30th. April 30th! When he shut out Oakland in the ninth yesterday, he set the MLB record for appearances without giving up a run, 39 in a row. Zach is putting up video game numbers with his insane sinker, even when you know it’s coming, there is nothing you can do about it, he is the most dominating reliever in baseball today.

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This stat above isn’t from this year or last year, it’s his career, it’s not a small sample size at all, almost 190 games as a reliever and just under 200 IP. Yet all we hear about is Chapman (24-26 in save chances, 1.85 ERA) and Andrew Miller (10-12 in save chances, 18 holds, 1.65 ERA) being the best relievers in the game, not up in here.

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We all know Eric “Goggles” Gagne was the last reliever to win the Cy Young back in 2003 when he went 55-55 in saves with an ERA of 1.20 and a WHIP of 0.692. Now Britton probably won’t get to 55 saves, but if he stays on pace, his ERA will be far lower than Gagne’s, but his WHIP likely won’t get that low. One thing that Britton has working for him is what Gagne had going for him in 2003- No one is separating themselves for this award. Look at those numbers up there, sure they are good, but is J.A. Happ being 16-3 more impressive than the season Britton is having? When Gagne won in 2003, Jason Schmidt (17-5 2.34 ERA), Mark Prior (18-6 2.43 ERA), and Russ Ortiz ( 21-7 3.81) finished behind him. Again, good numbers, but nothing that jumps off the page at you.

I know some people don’t think a reliever should win the Cy Young, but when a guy has numbers this good, why not? He has to be considered for it. I don’t think he will win because of what I just said, and most baseball voters are morons, but if he is by far the best either this year, why can’t he win it? The O’s wouldn’t be where they are without him, that’s for sure.

Upcoming

Friday, August 12th @ San Francisco- Dylan Bundy (5-3 3.05) vs Matt Cain (4-6 5.16)

Saturday, August 13th @ San Francisco- Kevin Gausman (3-9 4.02) vs Madison Bumgarner (10-7 2.20)

Sunday, August 14th @ San Francisco- Wade Miley (7-10 4.98) vs Johnny Cueto (13-3 2.93)

Tuesday, August 16th vs Boston- Yovani Gallardo (4-4 5.17) vs Steven Wright (13-5 3.01)

Wednesday, August 17th vs Boston- Chirs Tillman (15-4 3.46) vs Eduardo Rodriguez (2-5 5.43)