Enemy Lines

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE ORIOLES

It's going to be hard to repeat the one-run magic they had last year, but they have a lot of really nice pieces in place.... I don't think Dylan Bundy is ready yet. He's overthrowing, and he doesn't have enough command. He has three above-average pitches—fastball, power slurve and changeup—and he is willing to make adjustments. He just needs to learn how to pitch.... Jason Hammel has learned to trust his stuff. He used to throw 94, but it would be flat. Now he throws 92--93 with late sink, a two-seamer that really developed when he came to Baltimore.... I watched Wei-Yin Chen and swore I was watching Tom Glavine. He has such an effortless delivery and an above-average changeup, and knows how to pitch inside.... Jake Arrieta has incredible stuff, but he still runs a lot of deep counts. But when he comes out of the bullpen he can throw 96--97 and overmatch hitters.... Jim Johnson has one of the best sinkers in the game. When he's right, he can dominate hitters.... . Matt Wieters handles the pitching staff really well. He also has big-time power.... The sky is the limit for Manny Machado. He can make some Brooks Robinson plays at third base. Offensively, I think he can reach numbers A-Rod put up early in his career. He's quick to the ball and doesn't cheat on fastballs.... Adam Jones is an above-average major leaguer, but he's not a superstar. He gets himself into funks, and you can expand the strike zone on him. He won't reach Matt Kemp level, but he could be another Torii Hunter.

The Lineup

2013 Projected Statistics

MANAGER BUCK SHOWALTER

Fourth season with the Orioles

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ROTATION W ERA WHIP K/9
RH JASON HAMMEL 9 4.25 1.34 6.8
LH WEI-YIN CHEN 11 3.74 1.25 6.6
RH CHRIS TILLMAN 11 3.94 1.30 7.0
RH MIGUEL GONZALEZ 7 3.62 1.23 7.1
LH BRIAN MATUSZ 5 2.15 0.99 10.9
BULLPEN SV ERA WHIP K/9
RH JIM JOHNSON 35 2.65 1.12 5.8
RH PEDRO STROP 0 3.16 1.42 8.1

LINEUPS AND STAT PROJECTIONS BY ROTOWIRE.COM

The K Meter

Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank

BY HITTERS | 21.3% | 26TH

BY PITCHERS | 18.8% | 23RD

Best Case

2012 was not a fluke! The O's win their first division crown since 1997, Jones makes an MVP run, and Machado and Bundy shine.

Worst Case

2012 was a fluke! The bullpen doesn't prove as fortunate as it was in '12, and a below-average OBP catches up to the O's.

Matt Gagne has more on the Orioles at SI.com/mlb

Modest Proposal

Strikeout rate is the single best predictor of a pitcher's longevity and effectiveness—and that's an ominous sign for Jim Johnson. Last year he saved 51 games while striking out just 15.2% of the batters he faced. In general, the baseline strikeout rate for a consistent one-inning reliever is 25%. Since 2000, nine pitchers have had at least 40 saves with a strikeout rate below 19%. In the year after their big-save seasons, those nine dropped to an average of 25 saves with an ERA of 4.35. The O's can't let Johnson's likely regression take them out of the AL East race. Fortunately they have Pedro Strop on hand. The 27-year-old righthander, Baltimore's hardest-throwing pitcher, with an average fastball of 97 mph in 2012, has a career strikeout rate of 21.4% and was impressive pitching for the Dominican Republic during the World Baseball Classic. Heat isn't everything, but missing bats almost is. Johnson can set up, but Strop's ability to do that makes him a better bet to nail down saves this year.

PHOTOROD MAR FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDManny Machado PHOTOROD MAR FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)