Slump just part of game, Schoop says
Second baseman on pace for worst statistical month since Sept. 2014
Slumping Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who entered Tuesday with a .167 September batting average and just three hits in his previous six games, said his recent struggles are part of the ebb and flow of a long season, not symptoms of any larger troubles.
“You know, the pitchers are making better pitches,” said Schoop, who went 1-for-4 Tuesday night.
“This time of the season, the last weeks, that’s baseball. You have the ups and downs, and I’m learning from it. I know for sure that I’m learning from this, and then next year, I’ve got experience from it from this year. It’s something you have to go through.”
Schoop is less than two weeks from finishing a season during which he could start each of the Orioles’ 162 games. He has enjoyed a breakout year with 24 home runs and 35 doubles through 150 games.
But his batting average has been particularly volatile as he’s gone on hot streaks and then come back down over the course of the season.
He started hot, cooled for most of May, then spent June raising his batting average from .267 on June 1 to .304 at the All-Star break. He has moved all over the batting order since then, and seen his season average dip to .269 with his September swoon.
Schoop has three home runs this month, but is on pace for his worst statistical month since he hit .155 with four home runs in September 2014, the only other full major league season he’s played.
“Wherever I am [in the lineup], I just want to help the team win and do something, anything,” Schoop said.
“If it’s not offensively, then defensively. I just want to help the team win. That’s all I care about.” Schoop Bloated bullpen beneficial: Manager Buck Showalter, and managers across the game, lament the effect of September call-ups on the quality of the game. But the Orioles and Red Sox have benefited from the expanded rosters that make more relievers available.
The Red Sox (0.94) and Orioles (1.89) rank first and second in the major leagues in bullpen ERA in September.
Showalter is reaping the rewards of having a dozen relievers. It has fundamentally changed the way he uses his pitchers.
For five months, the team relied on Vance Worley and a rotating cast of swingmen to provide long relief. Now, Showalter said, they no longer need those roles. “We’re trying to live to fight another day,” Showalter said. “Wewere able to stay away from Brad [Brach] and Zach [Britton] and Mychal [Givens] and those guys last night, and Donnie Hart. We wouldn’t have been able to do that in August. We would have paid a penalty for that, or we would have made a move or sent Tyler [ Wilson] or Vance out after he pitched four or five innings so we had somebody who could pitch the next day.”
Those long outings were more out of necessity than anything else, he said. It’s hard to argue with the results since rosters expanded, though some in the bullpen believe it’s a bit jarring to the relief corps to see roles change so late in the season.
Said Brach: “It’s definitely one of those things where, at times, it’s, ‘What’s going to be next?’ If they do call, when the phone does ring, you see a lot more heads turn because you don’t know who it’s going to be, exactly. It’s just different because there’s so many guys down there.
“You just never now sometimes, how guys are going to be used or when guys are going to used. It’s definitely a positive, but at times, there’s a little confusion because you just don’t know who’s going to be used at any time. For the most part, though, it’s positive.” Around the horn: Left-hander Wade Miley is scheduled to leave the team for the birth of his child at the end of this weekend’s final home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Showalter said. Miley left his start Sunday after four shutout innings with a muscle strain in his back. ... Center fielder Adam Jones was given the Oriole Way Award from the Orioles Advocates group for his efforts to grow the game and serve the community.
Starters: D-backs’ Robbie Ray (8-13, 4.66) vs. Dylan Bundy (9-6, 4.13)