Here's an update on some subjects that have been discussed earlier on this blog.
The Hairston/Roberts quandary: Jerry Hairston has returned to the lineup as a more-or-less everyday player, with two starts at second, seven at DH, and one in left field. So far, he's looked extremely rusty, batting .250/.242/.344. This could have been expected, as Hairston missed most of spring training and served a brief one-week rehab stint, but he's going to have to pick up the pace soon if he wants to stay in the lineup. Unfortunately, Brian Roberts has slumped offensively of late—his OPS has fallen by 93 points since Hairston came off the DL—making for two black holes in the Orioles' lineup. (Some of you may be wondering how Hairston's OBP could be lower than his batting average. The reason is that sacrifice flies count in the denominator for OBP but not for BA, and Hairston has one sacrifice fly and no walks or HBP.)
Rodrigo López: After watching their starters get bombed for most of the last month while Rodrigo (R-Lo? Rod-L? Rod-Lo?) put the clamps on the opposition, the Orioles did the logical thing and reassigned him to the rotation essentially to take the place of demoted Kurt Ainsworth. In his first start on Thursday, Rodrigo looked initially like the ace reliever that he had been, holding the Mariners scoreless for the first four innings. But then he hit a wall and got torched for six runs in the fifth. Although his ability to pitch deep in games is iffy, at this point, he's better used as a starter until the young arms get themselves on track.
Mike DeJean: The sad story continues. DeJean has continued to get rocked nearly every time he's been out there. Michael Wolverton's Reliever Evaluation Tools Report currently ranks DeJean as the worst major-league reliever in Adjusted Runs Prevented. DeJean managed to notch his first hold of the season last Wednesday against Seattle, but was hardly impressive in doing so. Inheriting a 4-1 lead in the seventh with runners on first and third and two outs, he gave up a run-scoring hit and a bases-loading walk before receiving a merciful strike call on a borderline full-count pitch to Édgar Martínez. On Friday against the Angels, he took a 3-1 eighth-inning lead and gave up three straight hits without recording an out. Recent callup Darwin Cubillán relieved DeJean and promptly coughed up the lead, resulting in an agonizing 5-3 loss.
B.J. Ryan: In that Friday game, Lee Mazzilli went to DeJean in the eighth because Ryan had pitched on Tuesday and Wednesday and had told Mazzilli that he was not feeling well that week. That might have given Mazzilli plausible justification for not using Ryan. But DeJean? And in a two-run game against the Angels, who have scored the second-most runs in the league? Ryan, who currently ranks 16th in ARP, eventually entered that game in relief of Cubillán and put out the fire—too late to save that game, unfortunately. Ryan continues to pitch well: left-handed batters are still hitless off him, while righties have managed just a .734 OPS. But the lack of decent bullpen options beyond him and Jorge Julio is hurting the Orioles. It's turning the search for the next-best pitcher into a coin flip.
Calvin Pickering ("He Can't Pick It, But He Sure Can Hit It") has cooled down a little since his scorching start, but he's still hitting an impressive .320/.465/.820 at Omaha. Why isn't this guy DHing for someone?
Speaking of DH's, Jack Cust has not ravaged Triple-A pitching like I thought he would. This year, he's posted a feeble .233/.353/.384 at Ottawa, with just three taters and 32 K's in 118 PA's. That puts him just slightly ahead of shortstop Eddy Garabito (.311/.344/.378) as a hitter. Maybe there was a real regression in Cust's hitting approach this spring that justified the Orioles' decision to take him off the roster. Meanwhile, Cust's Lynx teammates José León (.342/.405/.711) and Pedro Swann (.328/.396/.613) are hitting like there's no tomorrow, and Robert Machado (.319/.372/.487) isn't doing too badly for himself either. Too bad none of them is young enough to be considered a prospect. Anyway, it's nice to have viable options in Triple-A in case of an injury on the big-league club. On the pitching side of the Lynx, recently promoted starter John Maine is struggling for the first time as a professional, with a 6.20 ERA and an 11/8 K/BB ratio in four starts. Looks like he's finally being challenged; let's see how he responds.
Earlier I commented that Miguel Tejada has been a slow starter in his career. Well, this year he had a relatively strong start (for him), with a .326/.374/.453 hitting line in April for an OPS of .827. This bodes well for his season overall, if he heats up during the summer like he normally does.