Thus far in 2017 the Baltimore Orioles have only dealt with the adoring cheers of their home crowd. That changes tonight as they head north to Fenway “Pahk” in Boston. They’ll be in Boston for two games, Toronto for four (over Easter), and then Cincinnatti for three. All in all, a nine-game road trip.
Fenway of course provides it’s share of challenges, and not only limited to the fact that the BoSox are a good team. The Orioles’ bullpen should be rested in full after the off day today, however they’ve been called into action far too often thus far in the young season. And we saw the downside of that on Sunday afternoon.
Being the ultimate hitter’s paradise, that could pose a problem for the Orioles tonight. However they do have Dylan Bundy on the mound this evening, and he was the lone starter to go deep into a game thus far (seven innings). But if that’s not enough, they’ll then head up to Toronto where Oriole pitchers always seem to struggle anyways – and of course Rogers Centre is also a hitter’s park.
So the way that the Orioles ensure that the bullpen remains as fresh as it can be is by starters going deeper into games. In fairness, quite a few teams have starters that can only last between four and seven innings in games the first two or three times through the rotation. And the weather can play a role in that, as guys have gotten used to the warm Florida sunshine during spring training. Then they come north and find that it’s still chilly up here.
But ultimately, a park like Fenway can set you back a bit in terms of bullpen depth – if your starters can’t go deep. So the Orioles really need Bundy (and Jimenez tomorrow) to step up when it counts. In Bundy’s case, he’s returning to the site of his big league debut in 2012, when he came in as a reliever in a game late in the season.
Incidentally, this is also a Boston team that got abused over the weekend in Detroit. So you can look at this from the perspective that they’re due, or that the Birds are getting them while they’re down. Bundy will be opposed by Boston’s Drew Pomeranz. Game time is set for just after 7 PM this evening.