Pitching a first-half challenge for Orioles

Baltimore in reach of AL Wild Card at break, but needs rotation boost

July 10th, 2017

BALTIMORE -- While the Orioles closed the first half with back-to-back wins, there's no denying that it's been a frustrating few weeks. After jumping out to a 22-10 start, the O's enter the All Star break four games under .500 (42-46), with Sunday's win putting them ahead of Toronto and out of the American League East basement.
Baltimore is one of numerous teams still well within reach of the two AL Wild Card spots, though certain things have to happen for claiming one to be a real possibility. Here's a quick look at the Orioles' first half.
What went right
was terrific, pitching well beyond his years and developing into the ace of the O's rotation. , who was the talk of the spring, earned a spot on the Opening Day roster and has hit his way into a regular role. , a late spring trade acquisition, has proven to be a great addition to the bullpen, while -- the club's All-Star selection -- looks poised to have a career year.

What went wrong
The starting pitching, save for Bundy, has been a huge issue. had a poor start to the season, while Chris Tillman, upon his return from the disabled list, has never been quite right. Injuries to backed bullpen guys and Zach Britton hurt, while sluggers and Manny Machado dealt with some prolonged early-season slumps. :: 2017 Midterm Report: Complete coverage ::
What we learned
The Orioles can't outhit a bad starting rotation. If they are going to get anywhere this season, they're going to have to find a way to get into the fifth and sixth inning more often than not. The domino effect of juggling roster moves for fresh arms and forcing up relievers who aren't necessarily ready can turn things ugly quick.
First half top everyday player
Schoop has been a consistent offensive force for the O's, leading the team in RBIs (54) and tied with Machado for tops in homers (18). Schoop has walked more and posted a .296 average so far this season.
First half top pitcher
While he's had some struggles as of late, Bundy carried the Orioles' rotation through certain first-half stretches. He leads the team in wins (8) and inning pitched (108), and he is the only starter with an ERA under 4.50.
First half top rookie
The 25-year-old Mancini has hit .314 with 14 homers and 15 doubles, and he has come up clutch in many situations already for Baltimore. Mancini has been one of the highlights for the O's.