To this point, a quarter of the way through a grueling season, the Orioles have to feel good about where they are and what’s ahead.

Where they are: in second place in the American League East, just half a game behind the New York Yankees, with one of the best records in baseball. What’s ahead: maintaining that pace for the final three-quarters of the season — and then October baseball.

The lineup is excelling, even if there have been a few off days of late. The starting rotation is jelling, even with injuries. The defense has been slick and the bullpen — well, we will get into that.

Baltimore is on pace to surpass 100 wins, so there’s an awful lot to like at Camden Yards. With that in mind, let’s take stock of the first quarter of the year, with insight from our Orioles writers.

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Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has his team on pace to win 100 games for the second straight year. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Looking back at your opening day predictions, do you still feel the same or has it changed?

Danielle Allentuck, Orioles beat writer: I predicted that the Orioles would go 90-72 with an appearance in the American League Championship Series, and the only thing I would change is the number of wins. The Orioles are on track to win 105, and while I think that may be a bit hard to keep up (you never know!), 100 is a better prediction.

Andy Kostka, Orioles beat writer: At the onset of the season, I noted the bullpen was the lone question mark on a team that has depth and talent just about everywhere, and as such I figured the Orioles would finish 95-67. I’ll stick with both observations; it will be interesting to see whether the bullpen can hold on to close games, but the talent everywhere can carry Baltimore to another American League East crown.

Kyle Goon, columnist: Even though the results of spring training games don’t matter, I was struck by the Orioles’ persistently high winning percentage in Florida. That has translated well to the regular season, as I suspected it might. It’s been surprising to see the young bats carrying the offense as much as they have, especially without Jackson Holliday being among them. But the Orioles haven’t done anything to shake my belief that they’ll be at or near the top of the AL East by season’s end.

Cole Irvin has a 2.90 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

What’s been the biggest surprise?

Allentuck: Cole Irvin has been the Orioles’ second-best starter this year, behind only Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. He’s made it into the seventh inning three times in his eight starts and has a 2.90 ERA. He allowed nine earned runs in his first two starts but has allowed only four since, becoming a valuable part of a rotation that has seen four starters spend time on the injured list.

Kostka: There was no guarantee Irvin would have been in Baltimore’s starting rotation when spring training opened, but an injury to Kyle Bradish and a slow buildup for John Means pushed Irvin back into prominence. After posting a 4.42 ERA in the majors last year — and spending stretches of the season in Triple-A — Irvin is allowing what would be a career-best 1.066 WHIP and just 0.7 homers per nine innings. He has eased the revolving door of starters due to injury.

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Goon: Of all the Orioles poised for a second-year leap, Jordan Westburg would have been a dark horse in March. With him throttling between second and third, it wasn’t clear how he fit, especially when he struggled at the plate in the spring. But the cool-headed infielder has not just been a .301 hitter; he’s been the clutch performer for Baltimore with two walk-off hits, including a homer. Colton Cowser cooled off a bit from April, but Westburg has been a steady hand in the field and in the batter’s box.

Craig Kimbrel has been erratic in the closing role, and that could portend a trade for a reliever. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

What is the Orioles’ biggest weakness?

Allentuck: I was going to say the bullpen, but this is really just Craig Kimbrel. The Orioles need a closer they can rely on, and Kimbrel has not done the job consistently. He’s blown three saves and been relegated to the seventh inning as the team tries to get him back on track. With the trade deadline two months away, the Orioles should be seeking a reliever who can share closing duties with Kimbrel or take over the role.

Kostka: Seconding Danielle here but expanding it from Kimbrel to the ninth-inning role at large. There is a major hole in this bullpen without right-hander Félix Bautista, who is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Manager Brandon Hyde said this week that he notices how those high-leverage situations can impact pitchers, sometimes just by the look on a reliever’s face as he enters the game. If Kimbrel doesn’t recover, there may not be a ready-made option on the Orioles to step into that role. A trade, then, could be the answer.

Goon: For the sake of variety (of course closing is a weak spot), sometimes the Orioles seem overly reliant on home runs. You’re never going to balk at leading the MLB in homers, because that’s always great. But, when the Orioles can’t go yard, the offense starts to gum up. Baltimore is second to last in walks and just 22nd in on-base percentage, which feels a little low for a young team with lots of players who were valued as prospects for their plate discipline. They’re in the middle of the MLB in average (.260) and slugging with runners in scoring position (.448). Their hard-hit balls and barrel percentages lend credence to the notion they’ll keep swinging for the fences, but more situational scoring would make this offense feel more solid.

Catcher Adley Rutschman is hitting .314 with nine home runs. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Who do you think will be the Orioles All-Stars?

Allentuck: Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, Jordan Westburg, Corbin Burnes. Rutschman and Burnes are on track to return to the game for the second and fourth times, respectively, while I think Henderson and Westburg will make their first appearances. I also think Jacob Webb and Yennier Cano could be candidates.

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Kostka: Rutschman, whose walk-off homer Wednesday was his fourth long ball in three games, is as close to a lock as possible. He’s hitting .314 and has established himself as one of the best catchers in the game. Burnes is also a standout pick with his 2.68 ERA. Henderson and Westburg also have a shot, with Henderson a front-runner for his 12 homers. But a lesser-heralded player who is worthy of his first All-Star nomination is Ryan O’Hearn. He’s hitting .290 with an .882 OPS. Plus, according to Statcast, there are few hitters better than O’Hearn in terms of plate discipline and exit velocity.

Goon: Henderson, Rutschman and Burnes feel like they’ll be in there. It’s tough to pick a top bullpen performer from Webb, Cano and Danny Coulombe, but one of them probably deserves it. Westburg ought to be a contender, but it might be tough to separate from a talented field of infielders while playing multiple positions. Look for him to sneak in under the wire as Austin Hays did last year based on statistical merit and injuries to more popular names.

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