5. Will the bullpen be as good as it was last year?

Probably not. There's no unit in baseball more volatile than a bullpen from year to year. And the Orioles' pen was the most important ingredient in the club's success in 2012. The Orioles' records in extra-inning games (16-2) and in one-run games (29-9) had as much to with the shutdown relievers than any other intangible component (such as inexplicable luck). It's difficult to predict the bullpen will be as good. But it should continue to be a real strength. Not only is every key member returning, but the Orioles should get full seasons of relief from Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz (above left), who thrived in their roles once converted from the rotation. And, with the addition of McFarland, the Orioles now have three lefties in the bullpen and two potential long relievers in McFarland and Hunter. Last year, the bullpen was mainly comprised of one-inning right-handers and do-everything lefty Troy Patton for much of the year. So the Orioles' relief corps may take a slight step backward from its outstanding performance of 2012. But it has the same personnel and is actually better constructed for a long season than it has been in the past.
Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun
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