Injuries in the pen, inconsistent starts raising concerns in Charm City
by Matthew Taylor
Pitching, especially out of the bullpen, has been the Birds' great strength this season. The efforts from the pen have been a particularly welcome sight given last year's $40 million relief corps debacle, and they've played a key role in the team's G-"O" Down Fighting spirit, enabling Oriole Magic at multiple turns. So more than a few eyebrows were raised in Charm City when Matt Albers left Wednesday's game with shoulder discomfort after recording just a single out.
One night after George Sherrill took O's fans on the wildest of relief pitching rides, the bullpen is the top topic once more, only this time the tone is less cheery. Writes Jeff Zrebiec: "Albers has been used to make spot starts, in long relief and more recently, to get key outs late in games. His abbreviated outing last night put an enormous strain on the Orioles' bullpen, but his long-term absence would create even bigger problems."
Relief for the relievers could come in the form of Adam Loewen - he tossed another scoreless inning in Bowie last night and is scheduled to throw for Norfolk on Saturday - and Roar from 34 favorite Randor Bierd (Remember him?), who will continue his rehab tonight in Frederick. Scout.com details Loewen's rehab and his season thus far. As for Randor, well he simply needs to continue being Randor.
While Albers' early departure has placed the focus squarely on the O's relievers, there's still plenty to think about with the team's starting pitching. Birds in the Belfry offers a great analysis of how the Birds' thrilling wins in late May and early June have masked some rather pedestrian efforts by the starters.
If you haven't stopped by the Belfry in a while, there's other good reading to be had there, including Kerry's Calculus on where the team heads next after a surprisingly successful start to the season.