Showalter on the young starters

Since manager Buck Showalter evaluates the season in month-long increments, I thought it’d be interesting to examine the Orioles’ next stretch.

There’s a full story going up on Orioles.com later this afternoon, but I wanted to make sure Showalter’s comments on the young starters, made prior to Saturday’s game, didn’t get lost in the shuffle.

While the Orioles offense and bullpen have both underperformed in the first quarter of the season, a trio of starts that didn’t go past the fifth inning and a 15-inning loss provided a brutal stretch –and a flurry of roster moves for fresh arms – in a four-game skid last week. Chris Tillman became the latest starter on Sunday to go five innings in an effective but hardly economical outing.

“The problem is there is a lot of unknown about what you’re getting,” said Showalter, who spoke with the team’s current four young starters –Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Brad Bergesen – on Saturday to remind them that this opportunity isn’t open-ended.

“They’ve had enough exposure, enough time up here over the last couple of years that they need to step forward one way or the other. There will be another guy running up the Baseball America hot list behind all of us,” Showalter added. “Sometimes, they need to be reminded that some things are unacceptable – all of them. I’m not a big start watcher until a certain part of the season, but you look at some of the hits to innings and ERAs and stuff, it’s not good enough. It’s not going to work. It falls underneath the heading with some of them, ‘yeah, I got it.’ But sometimes it’s a little bit more than just whistling in the graveyard.

It’s unacceptable, not good enough. The see-sawing, back-and forth, it’s tough for a team to really get into a consistent flow of playing good baseball over a long stretch of time when you got those inconsistencies. [And] just not with [starting] pitching. I’m not going to hang it all on them.”

I brought up the talk with Showalter again on Sunday morning and he said Saturday’s message wasn’t unusual as the O’s manager is frequently doling out that sentiment while walking around the outfield pregame, or behind closed doors in his office.

“I think we all need to be reminded of it,” Showalter said. “It’s just a reminder, it’s not an open-ended ticket. For any of us.”

Largely thought to be baseball’s toughest division, the Orioles are playing above .500 (14-12) ball outside of the AL East and while ultimately they will have to learn how to beat the Yankees (0-6), they have held their own against the Red Sox (2-2) and the Tampa Bay Rays (5-4) so far this season, taking both series at Tropicana Field.

Five of their next seven opponents entered Monday below .500, making now as good a time as any for the Orioles — who have been unable to string together a winning streak longer than the season’s first four games — to start a consistent stretch.

“We will look back at some things and say that maybe someone overachieved compared to their record, or they underachieved,” Showalter said. “You are always going to have that. Whether it’s the team or an individual. You aren’t going to have everybody operating at the top of their level all the time.”

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