The 2012 season hasn't been short on storyline's since things began in May, but there has been one storyline that's been bigger than the others. That, of course, has been the Baltimore Orioles and their hot start.
As it stands today, they sit 37-26 on the season, and are in the second place in the American League East. They're .5 games back behind the Yankees. Baltimore comes in hot, winners of five straight games.
The Orioles had a busy offseason, signed Tsuyoshi Wada and We-Yin Chen from the international market, while also adding Wilson Betemit, Luis Ayala, in free agency and claiming Darren O'Day on waivers. Baltimore also was active in the trade market, shipping Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom.
Baltimore also made a splash during the season, signing center fielder Adam Jones to a six year, $85 million deal.
Things start with Jones, who is having a career year in 2012. Jones is hitting .306/.353/.580 with a .398 wOBA and 152 wRC+. His power is off the charts so far, as he sports an ISO of .275. His highest ISO in a season before that was .180. Jones leads the team in homers with 18, and has stolen nine bases.
Speaking of career years, Chris Davis also falls into that category. He's hitting .308/.350/.542 on the season with a .373 wOBA and 135 wRC+. Davis also has 12 home runs.
Matt Wieters is also putting together a pretty good year himself, as he's sporting a line of .258/.338/.451 with a .342 wOBA and 113 wRC+. He has nine homers on the year. J.J. Hardy comes in at .261/.301/.451 and has been good with the glove as he has a defensive runs saved number of +11. He's also shown some pop, corking 11 home runs on the year.
Robert Andino isn't much to write home about with the bat, hitting only .239/.293/.324, while Wilson Betemit has been a little better at ..231/.300/.408 with eight home runs.
Mark Reynolds sits at .245/.369/.439 on the year, which is better overall than he has been but has come at the sacrifice of power. With Nick Markakis hurt, Steve Pearce is in right field for the Orioles.
Pitching matchups after the jump.
Friday June 15th, 7:35 PM ET
Matusz enters at 5-6 with a 4.82 ERA, 4.50 FIP, and 4.81 xFIP. His K/9 rate is the exact same as last year, sitting at 6.89, but he's seen a slight decrease in walks per nine from 4.35 to 4.13. The control isn't great, so patience will do Atlanta well. In terms of his arsenal, Matusz has five pitches: a four-seam, sinker, curve, slider, and change. Both the four-seam and sinker average just under 92 miles per hour. His slider sports a lot of late movement, while his curve is a sweeping one. The slider is his best swing and miss pitch by far, sporting a 17.55 whiff percentage. He's got a huge platoon split, as right-hander hitters are crushing him at a .312/.393/.495 clip. Lefties are hitting only .136/.188/.215 against him.
Saturday June 16th, 7:15 PM ET
Maybe all Hammel needed was to get out of Coors Field. After a couple of middling years in Colorado, Hammel has been a completely different pitcher in Baltimore. He's 6-2 with a 3.22 ERA, 3.57 FIP, and 3.59 xFIP. His biggest jump has come via his strikeout rate, which sits at 8.55 per nine this year, by far his career high. His walk rate is down a little, from 3.59 last year to 3.34 this season. Another big jump has been his groundball rate, which is up to 53.2 % from 44 % last season. Part of the reason for that could be the newest addition to his arsenal, a two-seam fastball. It doesn't have much sink to it, but he's gotten a lot of ground balls from it. Hammel also throws four-seam, slider, curve, and change. His velocity is up this year, with his four-seam averaging just over 94 miles per hour. Like Matusz, his slider is his best swing and miss pitch, with 18.47% whiff rate. He's primarily four-seam, two-seam, slider.
Sunday June 17th, 1:35 PM ET
No pictures for this one, guys. Chen signed with Baltimore in the offseason, and has been pretty effective for the O's. The rookie is 6-2 with a 3.68 ERA, 4.01 FIP, and 4.40 xFIP. He strikes out just under seven batters per nine, while walking just under three per nine. He also has five pitches: a four-seam, two-seam, slider, curve, and change. He averages 91 on the four and two seams, throwing the four-seam over 50 percent of the time. He throws both his slider and change about the same number of times, and both are able to miss bats. The slider averages 82 miles per hour. Every now and then he'll mix in a really slow 72 mile per hour curve, kind of like Yu Darvish does as well.
***All pitch data from Brooksbaseball.net***
Jim Johnson -RH (CL)
Pedro Strop -RH
Kevin Gregg -RH
Darren O'Day -RH
Troy Patton -LH
Luis Ayala -RH
Dana Eveland -LH