The Baltimore Orioles: No Longer an Affront to the Concept of Competitive Sports (Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles (26-35) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (35-24))
Haters will try to say putting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernández over Ty France and Taylor Ward isn’t completely deserved :) .
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As expected, Gabriel Moreno was officially called up prior to Saturday’s game, in which he had his first ever MLB hit and caught a runner stealing with a beautiful throw to second only foiled by the location being so perfect that it was in the ideal spot for the momentum of the runner to knock the ball out of Bo Bichette’s glove for an error. Going back to Buffalo was catcher Zack Collins.
Also being activated on Saturday was lefty reliever Tim Mayza, who had missed almost a month with a forearm injury and is a welcome sight for the higher-leverage corps in the bullpen. Jeremy Beasley was sent back the other way.
Hitter: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (2)
Honourable Mentions: George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette
Pitcher: José Berríos (2)
Honourable Mentions: Ross Stripling, Kevin Gausman
Best Bird Standings:
Bo Bichette- 3
Santiago Espinal- 3
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.- 2
Alejandro Kirk- 2
Danny Jansen- 2
George Springer- 2
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.- 2
Teoscar Hernández- 1
Matt Chapman- 1
Zack Collins - 1 (Optioned to Triple-A)
Alek Manoah- 7
Kevin Gausman- 5
Yusei Kikuchi- 3
José Berríos- 2
Ross Stripling- 1
Jordan Romano- 1
Monday, June 13 (7 p.m. EST/5 p.m. EST)
Alek Manoah (1.81 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 22.3 K%, 4.8 BB%, 38.0 Groundball%)
Kyle Bradish (6.45 ERA, 5.98 FIP, 24.0 K%, 9.6 BB%, 43.5 Groundball%)
Tuesday, June 14 (7 p.m. EST/5 p.m. EST)
Yusei Kikuchi (4.44 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 25.1 K%, 13.5 BB%, 44.8 Groundball%)
Jordan Lyles (4.97 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 18.4 K%, 7.4 BB%, 43.5 Groundball%)
Wednesday, June 15 (7 p.m. EST/5 p.m. EST)
José Berríos (4.73 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 19.5 K%, 6.1 BB%, 35.1 Groundball%)
Bruce Zimmermann (5.52 ERA, 5.49 FIP, 16.6 K%, 4.2 BB%, 40.0 Groundball%)
Thursday, June 16 (3 p.m. EST/1 p.m. MST)
Kevin Gausman (2.67 ERA, 1.75 FIP, 26.5 K%, 3.4 BB%, 43.3 Groundball%)
Tyler Wells (3.86 ERA, 4.28 FIP, 15.3 K%, 5.1 BB%, 35.9 Groundball%)
Pythagorean Record: 27-34
Last 10 games: 5-5
Make no mistake, the Baltimore Orioles are still bad. They have shown very few signs of not being bad in the near future. However, it’s becoming more apparent that this Baltimore Orioles team is not the affront to the concept of competition that they were in previous years.
An unchanged positive from prior seasons is the bullpen, which has been surprisingly (?) excellent. Failed starter Jorge López has excelled in a new high-leverage relief role alongside Dillon Tate, rookie Félix Bautista, and fellow ex-starters Cionel Pérez and Keegan Akin. The starting pitching, on the other hand, has been just as terrible as ever. Great news for the O’s future bullpen, not so much for now.
An awful blow was struck when John Means underwent Tommy John surgery in late April, rendering him off-limits for the season. Though his strikeout rate has plummeted since his time in the bullpen and in the minors, Tyler Wells has been solid as their next best starter. Veteran Jordan Lyles gives them someone they can throw out there every fifth day and give up three to four runs in five to six innings without embarrassing himself or the game of baseball. Other than those two, the Orioles have been throwing Hail Marys out there. Dean Kremer has been solid in two games, though maybe not good enough to bet on that success lasting much longer. Bruce Zimmermann has been a dependable fixture in the rotation but also bad, and the combination of Kyle Bradish, Spenser Watkins, and Chris Ellis has been exactly as uninspiring as a combination of Kyle Bradish, Spenser Watkins, and Chris Ellis looks on paper.
The offence, heralded going into the season as the one part of this Baltimore team that stood out as merely bad, has mostly lived up to that, with only veteran now-backup catcher Robinson Chirinos being well and truly abysmal. Hotshot catching prospect Adley Rutschman, regarded as a Top 3 prospect going into this season, has been bad, but has nonetheless already provided an offensive and defensive upgrade over Chirinos. Rougned Odor has been kicking around doing Rougned Odor things (being terrible while also somehow providing the most power on the team), infielder Ramón Urías had come back down to earth before unfortunately straining his oblique last weekend, and shortstop Jorge Mateo as been pretty terrible with the bat, but makes up for it with excellent defence at shortstop. Cedric Mullins has also regressed to a league-average bat thus far this season, though who knows for how long, and the promised Ryan Mountcastle explosion hasn’t manifested yet, as he’s been comfortably slightly above league average.
Spearheading this offence of mostly one shade below league average hitters are Trey Mancini and Austin Hays, who have each put together career performances thus far. Anthony Santander has bounced back nicely from a poor 2021, but overall, this is an offence that I’ve gotten progressively less impressed with the longer I’ve had to look at it. Improved results aside, there’s also been some controversy for the Orioles regarding pushing back the left field short porch at Camden Yards (itself a symptom of a wider trend of, for lack of a better word, gentrifying the iconic ballpark), and the Angelos family, the team’s longtime owners, at each others’ throats over control of the team, with accusations of one side wanting to move the team to Nashville being bandied about.
Grim stuff! Now beat this fucking team.
Best (Healthy) Players in this Series:
Austin Hays, Left Field/Right Field, .297/.359/.462, 135 wRC+
Jorge López, Relief Pitcher, 0.93 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 23.3 K%, 11.2 BB%, 64.9 Groundball%
Trey Mancini, Designated Hitter/First Base, .293/.374/.438, 131 wRC+
Dillon Tate, Relief Pitcher, 1.84 ERA, 2.90 FIP, 18.6 K%, 4.2 BB%, 55.7 Groundball%
Cedric Mullins, Centre Field, .248/.309/.388, 99 wRC+