Welcome to the 2018 edition of “The Rundown” where I will try to highlight some of the bigger storylines involving the Orioles throughout the season. Let’s get right into it.
Right Field Competition
The Orioles’ need for another left-handed hitter in their lineup led them to signing Colby Rasmus to a minor league contract. Barring a huge development, Rasmus will be in a platoon role and will help add more balance to the lineup against right-handed pitching. Rasmus may make his biggest impact defensively, as he is still considered a plus defender – which I know will make Adam Jones happy.
The question now becomes, who starts the right field when a lefty is on the hill? The early favorite is Craig Gentry, but he is dealing with a hamstring injury which could cause him to fall behind. Joey Rickard would be next in line. Both Gentry and Rickard are solid against lefties and are good defenders – with the edge going to Gentry – so I think this platoon could actually work.
Unfortunately, the team is trying to do everything to ensure Austin Hays starts the season in the minors. I hope the youngster makes it impossible for the team to send them him down. However, if he does make the team and it’s only in a platoon role, it would be a disastrous decision for his development. He needs to be playing every day somewhere, so it appears Hays is destined for Norfolk this April.
Cashner Already Making Impact
I’m not a huge fan of Andrew Cashner as I think he was one of the luckiest pitchers in baseball last season. To expect him to have another season like he did would be foolish. If Cashner finishes with an ERA of 4.50 I would consider that a huge success, but my expectation is somewhere around 4.80.
However, it appears Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are already picking his brain in hopes to become better pitchers in 2018. Cashner induces a lot of ground balls, which can be credited to his two-seam fastball/sinker.
Gausman struggles against right-handers and allows a lot of home runs, so he has began experimenting with that pitch to hopefully improve in both areas. Bundy is also hoping to learn the grip. He has commented throughout his career that he has never been able to perfect a two-seam pitch, which he needs as his four-seam fastball lacks much movement.
We’ll see if either Gausman or Bundy can get to the point that they are comfortable enough with the pitch to deploy it when the regular season starts, but it’s good to see them relying on a teammate to try and get better.
Who knows, maybe Cashner’s biggest impact will be helping Bundy and Gausman take their game to another level.
GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld
Harvey Makes Spring Debut
We all know the history of injury issues the former first-round draft pick has had, so it’s great to see him finally make a spring training start (which he does today). I don’t know when it will happen, but I strongly believe Harvey will make an impact with the big league team at some point in 2018.