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Thursday Thoughts: O’s Deadline Plans Still a Mystery

baltimore maryland orioles player with arms up

This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl WeaverBrooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. The days leading up to Monday’s trade deadline are going to be interesting, but I also expect them to be fairly quiet for the Orioles.

Based on all of the back and forth we’ve heard out of the front office over the last few weeks, I’d think the O’s are pretty comfortable standing pat at this point. That’s not to say they won’t make a trade before the deadline.

I still think there’s a very good chance they trade Zach Britton. What complicates matters is the way the closer has been pitching of late. He appears to be healthy, but something seems off.

The Orioles are walking the very thin line that is “buyer” and “seller” at the same time. They think they are still in it this season (they aren’t) while they also know they have multiple pieces of value that they could trade away (they do).

It’s a very unique trade deadline for this organization, and as I’ve written many times over the last few weeks, they need to be careful with it. Making the wrong move, or failing to make the right move, could set the franchise back multiple years.

2. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding this year’s trade deadline isn’t the future of certain players on the roster. In my mind, it’s the future of those off the field, mainly Dan Duquette.

Over the last few weeks, I thought we may get some answers about what the future holds for Duquette. Instead, I feel more confused than ever. Beyond next season, no one really knows what is in store for either Duquette or manager Buck Showalter. That’s something that is disconcerting to those who want something to believe in for the future of this team.

If Duquette had actually been given authority to be a “seller” this trade deadline and completed that task (and yes, I suppose there is still time), it would say a lot about the trust ownership places in him to build for the future.

There will also be an opportunity for Duquette to make those types of moves this winter, but there doesn’t appear to be a ton of talk about his future beyond 2018.

All of that should concern you, Birdland.

3. There is much happier news that isn’t trade related when it comes to the Orioles.

The All-Star Game hasn’t slowed down Jonathan Schoop one bit. The O’s second baseman was scorching hot in the first half, and has maybe even turned it up a notch thus far in the second half. After hitting his 22nd home run of the season yesterday, Schoop is just three shy of his career high set last year. He’s also now hitting .303/.349/.550 on the season, putting together one of the better offensive years for an Orioles second baseman ever.

Schoop is at least locked up for two more seasons after this, and there’s every reason to believe the Orioles should be attempting to sign to a long-term deal. If they aren’t going to get a deal done for Schoop’s good friend Manny Machado, they should be working on the other side of the infield.

Schoop is going to cost a lot more than he would’ve if the O’s had approached him at the start of the season, but it’s still going to be very doable for the Birds.

4. As you sit back this weekend and watch Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and former Oriole Tim Raines get inducted into the Hall of Fame, remember that there should be another Bird in Cooperstown already. How Mike Mussina has yet to get the call is beyond me. “Moose” received nearly 52% of the vote in his 4th year of eligibility, and needs to bump that number to 75% in order to be enshrined. Mussina’s time will come, but I’m just puzzled as to why it hasn’t already.

There is more youth among the voters nowadays, and more who are inclined to look beyond the raw numbers. Mussina doesn’t have 300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts. He got a bit unlucky when he left the O’s to join the Yankees, spending his entire tenure in New York in between World Series championship teams.

Mussina will go into the Hall one day soon, and unlike many Orioles fans, I hope he goes in with a Baltimore cap.

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Wednesday’s O’s Links: O’s Delusional?

Wade Miley was decent last night, except for that one inning in which he wasn’t. Those five runs Tampa put up in the second inning were enough for them to pull off the 5-4 victory and even the series. The O’s try to take it today at Noon, but Ubaldo is on the bump, so we’re not getting our hopes up.

Still no trades to report, so let’s see what else is up in the Blog O’sphere.

Should the Orioles Buy, Sell, or Stay at the MLB Trade Deadline?

SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee is one of my favorite baseball writers, and it’s a rare treat that he puts out a piece about the Birds, so of course I’m going to link it here. He gives an outsiders perspective on our O’s trade deadline plans.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 210: Time to Change

Jake & Scott took a well-deserved week off after this year’s BEVy awards, but they’re back in studio this week, talking Jonathan Schoop, O’s promotions, and how the Orioles can pull off the type of change that the owner & GM are comfortable with but that will also appease fans.

Roller Coaster Season Making Some Fans Sick

So many ups, so many downs – that’s been the 2017 O’s. At no time was this more on display than immediately after the All-Star break, as the team got swept by the Cubs only to turn around and pull off a four-game sweep of the Rangers. It’s a lot to deal with. Our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN column, tries to help us get through it.

Checking in with Trey Mancini

Over at Camden Depot, Patrick Dougherty looks at how Trey Mancini’s rookie season has progressed. Earlier this year, he was lighting the world afire, but many pointed to his HR/FB ratio as unsustainable. They said this was a reason to not get too excited. Fortunately, Pat says Trey has given us plenty of other reasons for optimism as the season has gone on.

Rangers, Orioles Delusions will Decide MLB Trade Market

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman says the O’s & Rangers are delusional about their playoff chances, which will hinder the abilities of true contenders to pry useful pieces from them. I’m still holding out hope that Brad Brach gets traded, but I’m not very optimistic about Zach Britton anymore.

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Series Preview: Orioles (47-51) @ Rays (51-48)

Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.

After keeping their playoff hopes alive over a ten-game home stand to kick off the second half of their campaign, the Orioles will now look to keep the good vibes flowing over a six-game, two-legged road trip.

The upcoming road trip will undoubtedly represent the most important six-game stretch away from home of the season for the Orioles. Not only will they start out with a three-game set versus the current co-holders of the second wild card spot in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays, they’ll then travel to Arlington to take on the team that’s right in front of them in the chase for October, the Rangers, over the weekend.

To say that this is a crucial week for the Orioles would be the definition of an understatement. If they can slug their way to a handful of wins, they’re right back on the doorstep of the playoff picture. If things go south this week, well things won’t nearly be as rosy, and our upbeat song will turn into a somber, bluesy ballad in a hurry.

To note that the deadline is exactly a week away gives the upcoming Orioles-Rays match-up more of a “Do-or-Die'” type of feeling. But hey, no pressure.

The fourth-place Orioles (47-51) remain seven games off the pace of the first place Red Sox, but are just 3.5-games out of the wild card picture as we approach the century mark of the season. A 5-5 start to the second half could have been better, but it could have easily been worse as well. The Orioles are in the middle of their third straight sub-.500 month with an 8-11 record thus far in July, but most of their struggles have happened while on tour as evidenced by a dismal 17-30 record away from Camden Yards. They’ll need to find a way to win ballgames on the road in the second half to have a legitimate chance of reaching the postseason, and they’ll be looking to reach that goal during their biggest week thus far.

The Tampa Bay Rays (51-48) are still holding down the third spot in the division and find themselves just 3.5-games behind the division-leading Red Sox, but a current four-game losing skid has resulted in the Royals tying them for the AL’s second and final wild card spot as we enter the final week of July. The Rays boast an impressive 27-22 record at Tropicana Field and have gone 9-8 thus far in July.

On the bright side, the Orioles own a 5-4 lead over the Rays in the 2017 season series, which has upped the O’s record versus the Rays to an impressive 40-26 since the start of the 2014 campaign. Baltimore has taken four of the past five season series versus their Floridian foes, and will be looking to inch closer to making it 5-of-6 this week.

Will the Orioles continue to gain ground in the wild card hunt, or will the Rays squash their visitors’ feel-good vibes before they jet out to Arlington? We’re about to find out. Let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Kevin Gausman (6-7, 6.11 ERA) will take on Blake Snell (0-5, 4.98 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Gausman was electric during his last start in which he held the Rangers to just a single run on four hits over six innings in a winning effort. The Orioles will need more of the same, and some consistency, from Gausman going forward. He had allowed thirteen runs on sixteen hits over just seven innings in his previous two starts combined before shutting it down versus Texas. Nonetheless, Gausman has gone 3-0 with a 4.97 ERA over his last five outings. However, his road struggles remain glaring as he’s gone 2-4 with a 7.98 ERA away from OPACY this season. Over twelve career games (ten starts) versus Tampa Bay, Gausman owns a 4-4 record and a 4.21 ERA.

Snell has gone through a nightmare campaign this season, and it didn’t get any brighter after allowing three runs on three hits over just four innings during his last start versus Oakland. He’s now gone 0-3 with a dismal 6.93 ERA over his last five outings, and he remains winless at The Trop this season with an 0-2 record and a 5.40 ERA.

 

Game Two

Wade Miley (4-8, 5.58 ERA) will take the hill versus Jacob Faria (4-1, 2.52 ERA) on Tuesday.

Miley will be aiming to erase the memory of his last start in which he allowed five runs on seven hits over five innings versus Texas. He’s in quite a rut at the moment as he’s recorded an 11.18 ERA over his last two starts. Over his last nine outings, the Orioles southpaw has notched a 2-5 record and a 10.04 ERA. The silver lining here is that over ten career starts versus Tampa Bay, Miley has gone 4-3 with a stellar 2.60 ERA.

Faria is coming off of the worst start of his young career during which he allowed four runs on six hits over five innings versus the Athletics, but has been pure money for the Rays since being called up in June. The rookie stud has gone six-plus innings while allowing two runs or fewer in six of his eight career starts and has allowed one or no runs in five of eight. Faria remains perfect at Tropicana Field with a 2-0 record and a superb 2.45 ERA.

 

Game Three

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-6, 7.19 ERA) will get the nod against Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.57 ERA) in the series finale on Wednesday.

After getting tuned up to the sound of allowing six runs on ten hits over 5 1/3 innings versus the Astros, Jimenez has now gone 0-2 while allowing twelve runs on twenty-one hits over just nine innings of work over his last two outings. He’s gone 1-3 with a 9.95 ERA over his last four starts. He’s also gone 3-4 on the road this season despite owning a 6.39 ERA. Over ten career starts versus the Rays, Jimenez boasts a 5-3 record along with a 4.70 ERA.

Cobb continued his sensational run of form by holding the Rangers to just three runs on five hits over eight innings during his last start, and now boasts a 2-0 record and a stellar 1.54 ERA over his last three outings and 23 1/3 innings of work. He’s gone seven-plus innings while allowing one or no runs in three of his last five starts. Cobb has also been remarkable at home this season and owns a 4-3 record and a 2.75 ERA at The Trop on the year. To make matters worse for the Orioles, Cobb has gone 4-2 with an outstanding 2.69 ERA against them over ten career starts.

That’s it for now, Orioles fans! Can I get a Let’s go O’s?!?!?

Here’s to heading to Arlington on a high note!

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Monday’s O’s Links: Britton Sets AL Record, but Teams Still Scared?

Zach Britton throws in spring training.

The O’s narrowly avoided the sweep on Sunday, which may be a bit of a double-edged sword. With the nonsense Dan Duquette was spewing at the season-ticket holder event on Saturday afternoon, maybe the Birds NEEDED to be swept. There’s still no selling going on. With every day that remains the case, the chances that the O’s do something really silly just increases.

To the links, where we may have some answers….

How Has Dan Duquette Fared in “Sell” Deals?

Dan Connolly chronicles Dan Duquette’s history of trading away veteran players for prospects. DD has been…surprisingly good!

Zach Britton May Not Be Worth as Much as the Orioles Want

First I hit you with the good news. Here’s the bad.

Britton Sets AL Record with 55th Consecutive Save

THIS guy isn’t worth as much as the O’s want? Seriously? Screw off, other GMs.

Mark Trumbo Made Just the Saddest Baseball Play You Will See Today

Orioles outfielders, everybody!

The End of Round 1 at the Appellate Court

Camden Depot’s Matt Perez, as always, has more details than you could ever want to read about the latest update in the MASN case.

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Week in Review: Heart’s Still Beating

Chris Davis rounds the bases with Rougned Odor in the background.

After getting crushed by the Cubs to start the second half, it would have been easy for the Orioles to throw in the towel on the 2017 season and give in to the pressure of a looming rebuild…

Not just yet. The Orioles had other plans in mind, as evidenced by their impressive four-game sweep of the Rangers. They also held their own against the AL-leading Astros as well, starting with a furious comeback that fell just short on Friday and a hard-fought 9-7 victory on Sunday to avoid the sweep and keep that second wild card spot well within reach.

We should know better than to assume that these Orioles are just going to roll over and give up. They’ve got the heart of a lion, and they never say die.

While a 5-5 home stand could have been a lot sweeter, it’s not all bad considering that it started out on an 0-3 note. And although the division-leading Red Sox are a distant seven games out of sight as we approach the final week of July, the O’s are just 3.5-games out of the wild card picture.

What follows will hold a much heavier meaning. They’ve got a massive three-game set down in Tampa against the squad that’s locked into a tie with the Royals for that second and final wild card slot. The Orioles could be banging on the door by the time we reach the weekend if everything goes to plan.

Or we could be diving deeper into the “Buy/Sell/Stand Pat” debate. Only time will tell. But there’s only one thing that’s on this squad’s mind at the moment, and that’s winning ballgames.

As we mentioned earlier this week, get your popcorn ready. The final plot of the Orioles 2017 season still remains unscripted, and we’re not even close to the climax of the action just yet.

Buckle up. We’ve still got 64 games left to grind it out.

Before we get carried away, let’s take a look back at the highlights from the past week of Orioles baseball.

– While Orioles starters shined en route to sweeping the Rangers by posting a rock-solid 3.13 ERA over 23 innings, they fell back into their old ways against the Astros and finished the series with a 9.00 ERA over 16 innings. They’ve now recorded an 8.04 ERA over the first ten games of the second half and an 8.34 ERA over their last seventeen contests.

– After staying in top form with a 2.08 ERA over thirteen innings versus the Rangers, the Orioles bullpen wasn’t iron-clad by any means versus Houston any finished the series with a 4.91 ERA over eleven innings. Nonetheless, the Orioles bullpen has been stellar for quite some time now as evidenced by their sensational 2.59 ERA over the last seventeen contests and their impressive 3.03 ERA over a current 26-game span.

– Ladies and Gentleman, Birdland Power Company is back in business. After hitting a remarkable .353 as a unit versus the Rangers while pushing across 34 runs (8.5 per game) on ten home runs, they followed up by hitting .294 as a team versus the Astros while scoring 20 runs (6.6 per game) on five homers.

– Over that seven-game span, the Orioles are hitting .328 while putting up 7.7 runs per game (54 total) on 14 homers. They’ve also gone a superb 24-for-63 (.381) with runners in scoring position during that span.

– Over the past 14 ballgames, the Orioles are collectively hitting .295 as a unit and have scored 91 runs (6.5 per game) on 25 home runs. They’re also hitting .318 with runners in scoring position during that stretch.

Now, let’s go to the three stars of the week!

 

Third Star

Trey Mancini. After going 5-for-15 with a homer and five RBI versus the Rangers, the Orioles star rookie followed up by going 3-for-11 with a pair of RBI versus Houston. Mancini is now hitting a stellar .308 with eight runs, one home run and nine RBI over his last 17 contests.

 

Second Star

Adam Jones. After destroying the Rangers by going 7-for-17 with eight runs, two homers and five RBI, the captain followed up his phenomenal effort by going 6-for-14 with another homer and another five RBI versus the Astros. Over his current six-game hitting streak, Jones has gone a ridiculous 13-for-28 (.464) with ten runs, three homers and ten RBI. Over his last fourteen contests, AJ is hitting a stellar .328 with five home runs and 15 RBI.

 

First Star

Jonathan Schoop. Simply put, he is lighting the world on fire at the moment. After crushing the Rangers by going 7-for-16 with one homer and nine RBI, Schoop followed up by tagging Houston to the tune of 6-for-14 with two home runs and seven RBI. Over his current six-game hitting streak, Jonny has gone an amazing 13-for-27 (.481) with three homers and a whopping 15 RBI. Over his last 20 ballgames, Schoop is hitting a superb .325 with 15 runs, six homers and 21 RBI.

 

Now that we’re feeling pretty good, let’s keep the good times rolling, eh?

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#Staturday: O’s Match (& Surpass) Homer Total at Memorial Stadium

aerial view of stadium in 1970

Happy Staturday Birdland! It was a fun week of baseball, producing some fun stats and facts. Let’s dive in!

On Wednesday, Adam Jones began the game with a lead-off home run. Little did he know, it was an historic homer:

After Adam’s bomb on Wednesday, the Orioles had hit the exact same number of home runs at Camden Yards and Memorial Stadium, at 2490 dingers a piece.

As previously mentioned on Eutaw Street Report, Trey Mancini is having an awesome rookie season and if he keeps his batting average up, he’ll make Orioles’ history:

Trey Mancini could become the first Oriole rookie to hit 15+ home runs and 50+ RBIs with a .300+ batting average.

On Thursday, the ball was flying as the Orioles smashed four home runs:

The Orioles have a league leading ten games with 4+ home runs.

While it hasn’t all been pretty the past few weeks, the Orioles are still playing well at the Yard.

The Orioles are 29-20 at home, winning 59% of their games. This is the sixth best home winning percentage in the league.

That’ll do it for this week! For more stats like these, follow @BirdlandStats on Twitter!

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Series Preview: Orioles (46-49) vs. Astros (63-32)

The Astros' Jose Altuve watches after swinging.

After bursting back to life with a four-game sweep of the Rangers, the Orioles will look to keep the good vibes flowing over the weekend versus the Houston Astros.

The Orioles will also be looking to conclude their ten-game home stand on a high note before hitting the road for a six-game road swing. While they looked to be in vintage form over their current four-game win streak, they’ll have their work cut out in replicating that form against the AL’s best and the second-best team in the bigs this weekend.

The Orioles’ (46-49) current tear has taken them from nine games off the pace of the division-leading Red Sox to seven, while they’ve also closed the gap on the Yankees for the second wild card spot from 5.5 games to 3.5 games. With 67 games still left to play on the schedule, the Orioles are still very much alive but can’t afford to go backwards. Their margin for error is so small that this current hot streak could go for naught if they can’t do the same this weekend, or next week, or the week after that. You get the point. Now that they’re feeling good, they need to keep it going.

And as for all the trade speculation around Birdland, well that isn’t going away anytime soon. The next week or so should determine whether the Orioles make just a few deals to revamp the current squad or whether they enter the beginning phases of a total overhaul. In the words of Terrell Owens, get your popcorn ready.

The Astros (63-32) have been in sparkling form all season long and as a result, they own the #1 ranking in the American League and a remarkable 16-game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the division. They’ve been especially amazing on the road this season with a 33-11 record on tour and have posted a sensational 24-6 record away from Minute Maid Park since May 11th. They haven’t slowed down a bit with a 9-5 record thus far in July and to make it even tougher on the Orioles, they’ve gone an impressive 13-7 versus the AL East this season.

The real kicker is the Astros’ recent domination of their hosts. The Orioles were swept over a three-game set in Houston back in May and as a result, they’ve gone just 1-9 versus their current visitors since the start of last season. The Astros also own a commanding 13-4 advantage over the Orioles since the start of the 2015 season.

Can the Orioles flip the script and keep their postseason hopes alive, or will Houston hand the Orioles another problem to deal with?

We’re about to find out. Until then, let’s take a peek at the starters.

Game One

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-5, 7.01 ERA) will take the mound versus Mike Fiers (6-4, 3.75 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Jimenez will be looking to shake off his last outing in which he allowed six runs on eleven hits over just 3 2/3 innings versus the Cubs. His latest implosion results in Jimenez carrying a 9.88 ERA over his last three outings and a 7.55 ERA over his last six into Friday’s contest. The good news is that over thirteen career games (eleven starts) versus Houston, Jimenez has gone 4-1 with a glittering 2.87 ERA.

Fiers has been in sparkling form for quite some time now. After holding the Twins to just two runs on four hits over seven innings during his last start, Fiers boasts a 2.65 ERA over his last three starts. He also owns a 3-2 record and a stellar 2.30 ERA over his last seven contests. He held the Orioles to just one run over seven innings in a winning effort during his only career start versus the Birds last August.

 

Game Two

Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.20 ERA) will get the nod versus Collin McHugh in Saturday night’s match-up.

After silencing the Rangers to the tune of just a single run on two hits over six innings during his last start, Tillman will look for more of the same. He’s posted an impressive 2.45 ERA over his last two starts and eleven innings of work, but doesn’t have a win to show for it. On the year, Tillman has gone 1-3 with a 5.22 ERA at Camden Yards. Over six career starts versus the Astros, Tillman has posted a 2-3 record to go along with a solid 3.89 ERA.

The Astros will welcome McHugh back with open arms after their stud missed the entire first half of the season with an impingement in his right elbow. He’s gone 43-26 with a 3.71 ERA over 90 starts since joining the Astros in 2014. However, McHugh has gone 1-0 over five career starts versus Baltimore despite owning a 6.18 ERA.

 

Game Three

Dylan Bundy (9-8, 4.18 ERA) will take the hill against Lance McCullers Jr (7-2, 3.28 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Bundy kicked off his second half of the season in superb fashion by holding the Rangers to just one run on four hits over six innings in a winning effort. He’ll look to keep that going and improve upon his 7.18 ERA over his last five outings. On the year, Bundy has gone 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA at Camden Yards. He’ll be making his first career start versus Houston on Sunday as well.

McCullers will be looking to bounce back from his latest outing in which he allowed four runs on six hits over just 4 2/3 innings versus the Mariners. He’s winless over his first two starts of July and owns a 9.00 ERA over nine innings of work during that span. However, McCullers has gone 3-2 with a 3.67 ERA on the road this season and has gone 3-0 with a sparkling 1.80 ERA over his first three career starts versus the Birds. He’ll be looking to keep that 1.000 winning percentage going on Sunday.

 

That’s it for now, Orioles fans!

Enjoy the weekend!

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Friday’s O’s Links: Bidding War Emerging for Britton?

orioles pitcher with arm back and about to throw ball

A four-game sweep! Who saw that coming? Not many of us, that’s for darn sure. The buzzsaw that is the Houston Astros come to town now though, so we’ll see how the hot Birds can stack up against a true contender. The bet here is that we’ll all by screaming “SELL!” again by Monday. That’s probably not a bad thing, because…

Bidding War Emerging for Zach Britton

Buster Olney says teams are bidding against each other for Zach. This is good news.

Caleb Joseph has Recovered Nicely

Matt Kremnitzer on Caleb’s bounce-back from his no-RBI season. Unfortunately, I don’t think the O’s can get much in return for Welington Castillo. I’d be fine with a Caleb/Francisco Pena/Chance Sisco backstop situation for the rest of 2017.

Chris Davis Continues to Hit for Power and Not Much Else

Hey, that’s why he’s here, right?

Dylan Bundy on Preparing for a Start

One doesn’t simply show up and start dealin’.

Last Time the Orioles Needed to Rebuild, they Refused to Do So for a Decade

Has Peter Angelos changed his stripes this late in life? We can hope, but O’s fans are damn sure nervous. O’s Uncensored’s L.E. Miller runs through the ugly history of why we have every reason to be.

That’s it for today…root for the O’s this weekend! But kinda don’t?

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Does Trey Mancini Have a Rookie of the Year Case?

Trey Mancini of the Orioles leans forward in sunglasses.

Yesterday, our friends over at @BirdlandStats (check out their work on ESR here) tweeted out some interesting facts about Trey Mancini and past Rookie of the Year award winners:

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that I can say I quite realized how remarkable “Boom Boom” has been for a rookie this season.

Now, he of course will need to keep it up – to prove he can adjust to the adjustments that pitchers will make, to show that he can endure the dog days of summer, the full 162-game grind of an MLB season – to finish the year in such elite company.

Should he do that though, his case for the Rookie of the Year award is quite strong indeed:

Let’s see how Trey’s numbers compare to how those four guys, all ROY winners – Corey Seager, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Jose Abreu – in their respective rookie campaigns.

Seager (2016): .308/.365/.512, 137 wRC+, 26 HR, 7.5 fWAR

Trout (2012): .326/.399/.564, 167 wRC+, 30 HR, 10.3 fWAR (did you guys know that Mike Trout is really good? Mike trout is really good.)

Pujols (2001): .329/.403/.610, 159 wRC+, 37 HR, 7.2 fWAR

Abreu (2014): .317/.383/.581, 167 wRC+, 5.3 fWAR

And Mancini, through last night’s game:

.305/.351/.530, 131 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR

The low fWAR can be chalked up to the fact that, compared some of those other guys, Trey doesn’t do much with the glove. To be fair, he is also not playing his natural position, aside from the time Chris Davis spent on the disabled list.

Of course, it’s just Trey’s (and our) luck that he is doing all of this while being overshadowed by that Man Mountain playing in New York (of course!), the force of nature who just destroyed all comers at the Home Run Derby like they were toddlers with wiffle ball bats, Aaron Judge.

There may be a glimmer of hope though – Judge is just 4-for-29 since the All-Star Break, without an extra-base hit. His numbers are, of course, still insane, at .312/.434/.642, with 30 HR and 68 RBI. But Judge needs to do all of those things that we said about Mancini above, for the rest of the season as well. While his home run lead is likely insurmountable, should that average and OBP continue to plummet, Mancini may have a puncher’s chance.

Take out Judge, and Mancini would lead AL rookies in wOBA, wRC+ and slugging percentage, and rank third in fWAR.

Naturally, we can’t just “take out” Judge. He’s out ahead of the pack in the Rookie of the Year race by a good 10 lengths. The fact that he plays in New York pushes that lead out to 15.

Trey Mancini very likely won’t win the AL Rookie of the Year this season. That doesn’t mean we should overlook what he’s doing.

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Thursday Thoughts: Winning Streak Shouldn’t Change “Selling” Mindset

side profile of orioles player britton holding glove by face before pitch

This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl WeaverBrooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. I figure this should be a pretty mellow version of the “Thursday Thoughts” this week.

Nothing really happened in the world of Orioles baseball that I can recall, right?

Okay, at least that’s what I was hoping for. Instead, everything happened. It all happened.

Sunday’s bombshell report from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal about the Orioles being ready to sell, followed by his subsequent report that indicated ownership was approving that idea, has thrown Baltimore into a frenzy. It’s important to realize that even though the Orioles have won three straight games, there’s a reason there was a discussion about selling earlier this week. Winning a few games doesn’t change the fact that this team should be prepared to sell. A few more won’t mean that either.

This team is in a position to sell, despite being just 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.

It’s important to remember that.

2. The biggest mystery to me surrounding the idea of the O’s “selling” is why Manny Machado would be completely off the table. Frankly, the Birds should be at least “listening” on any player. But Machado is the player they should be most intent on listening about considering he’s the most valuable trade chip they have.

I don’t think the Orioles are forced to trade Machado before the end of the month. They could very well make it happen this winter. But they shouldn’t be hanging up the phone if Machado’s name is brought up.

Unless they have some kind of handshake agreement that they will be able to re-sign Machado after next season (they don’t), it would be foolish to lose him for nothing.

3. Perhaps the most likely player to be traded away is Zach Britton, and that’s the right move as well. Britton’s value will perhaps be suppressed a bit by his injury-plagued season, but he’s still incredibly treasured in baseball circles and will be by the team that he ends up on.

There’s a lot of talk about Britton perhaps being the “Andrew Miller” of this deadline, and I believe he can bring back every bit of the return Miller did last season. Whether it’s the Dodgers, Cubs, Astros or some other team, there’s nothing stopping the O’s from dealing Britton. While Machado doesn’t actually have to be traded, the story is a bit different when it comes to the closer.

Things have escalated to a point where dealing some of the bullpen arms should be a certainty at this point, not just speculation.

4. The two buzzwords that are really bugging me this week are “re-tool” and “re-build.” There frankly shouldn’t be much of a difference between the two, but there’s some belief that the O’s can trade away some pieces and still be competitive next season with players like Machado on the roster.

I don’t believe the Orioles are just a player or two away from being serious World Series contenders. There’s a much greater deficit within the organization right now. The only way to truly restock the system and build for a long-term future is to tear things down and flush the pipes.

The other large factor that looms over a re-tool versus re-build mindset is the future of Dan Duquette. If the GM really does have the authority to trade away some players on this roster, it must mean that owner Peter Angelos trusts him to be around for this rebuild.

The future of both Duquette and manager Buck Showalter should be under an intense microscope during these next few weeks as trades are, or aren’t made.

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Wednesday’s O’s Links: Rockies Interested in Gausman & Bundy

Dylan Bundy jogs in Spring Training.

The last two nights have been a nice little reminder that baseball can indeed be fun. Now the worry is, of course, that they’ll also fool the owner into thinking this team has the potential to keep winning games every night for the next two-plus months, which is, of course, not the case.

Let’s see what everybody else is saying.

Orioles Score Six Runs Before Recording an Out

Like I said, that was fun.

Four Possible Trade Packages for Zach Britton

The O’s could get a lot for Zach Britton. MLB.com’s Mike Petriello looks at the prospects that four contenders – Houston, Tampa, Washington, and Los Angeles – could give up to get Zach.

Is Zach Britton the Andrew Miller of the 2017 Trade Deadline?

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick wonders if Zach is this year’s Andrew Miller – the closer who gets traded for a big haul at the deadline and then goes on to help put a contender over the top. Only if Pete allows it…

Orioles Can’t Hit Breaking Pitches to Save Their Lives

Everyone loves when the numbers back up what our eyes tell us, right? And our eyes have been telling us all year that the O’s can’t hit junkballers – specifically, they can’t hit junk from ANYBODY. Camden Depot’s Matthew Cassidy has the stats that confirm that sentiment.

Rockies Have Reached Out to Orioles About Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman

Death, taxes, and the Rockies being interested in Kevin Gausman. Dylan Bundy had better not be eating Rocky Mountain Oysters at any point in the foreseeable future though, I’ll tell ya that much.

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Series Preview: Orioles (42-49) vs. Rangers (45-46)

Cole Hamels of the Rangers sets to pitch.

After getting swept and embarrassed by the Cubs in their own house over the weekend, the Orioles will be looking to shrug it off and quickly bounce back over their upcoming four-game set versus the Texas Rangers this week.

Quite frankly, their season and the fate of this current Orioles squad depends on it. No pressure, but it’s time to put up or shut up if they want to remain in the hunt for a wild card spot down the stretch.

The Orioles (42-49) will start the week nine games off the pace of the division-leading Red Sox and 5.5-games out of the wild card picture. They haven’t helped their cause by going 3-9 thus far in July and 5-11 over their last sixteen contests. To make matters worse, they’ve gone just 8-11 in their own ballpark since the beginning of June after starting the season with a sparkling 17-8 record at Camden Yards.

The Rangers (45-46) will roll into town tied for second in the AL West, but they can forget about catching the uber-hot Houston Astros (62-30), who own a ridiculous 16.5-game lead over them and the Seattle Mariners. On the other hand, the Rangers trail the Tampa Bay Rays by just three games for the final wild card spot. They come into Camden Yards with a subpar 20-26 record while on tour, and they’ve gone just 7-12 against the AL East. However, the Rangers seem to be heating back up as they’ve won five of their last seven contests.

This will mark the first meeting of the season between the cross-country ballclubs. The Orioles used to handle the Rangers well by going 11-3 versus their Texan foes from 2013-2014, but the Rangers have flipped the script in recent times. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, they own a commanding 10-4 advantage over the Birds.

Will the Orioles pick themselves up after a heartbreaking weekend, or will the Rangers continue to revitalize their playoff hopes?

Only time will reveal the answer to that million-dollar question. For now, let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.90 ERA) will take the mound versus Andrew Cashner (4-7, 3.54 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Tillman turned in a decent outing in his last start of the first half by holding the Rays to just two runs on seven hits over five innings. The Orioles will need more of the same from their veteran leader going forward if they have any chance of turning things around. Tillman has gone 0-5 with a 9.89 ERA over his last eight outings, and he’s posted an 11.25 ERA over his last five. In seven career starts versus Texas, he’s gone 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA.

Cashner was impressive in his last start, allowing two unearned runs on three hits over seven solid innings versus the Red Sox, and has gone seven innings while allowing two runs or fewer in two of his last four contests. The only time Cashner has faced the Orioles was in May of 2013 with the Padres, and he held the O’s to just two runs (one earned) on five hits over 7 1/3 innings.

 

Game Two

Dylan Bundy (8-8, 4.33 ERA) will make his second half debut versus Tyson Ross (2-1, 5.33 ERA) on Tuesday.

After allowing six runs on five hits over five innings in his first half finale versus the Twins, Bundy sports a sobering 2-5 record and a 7.18 ERA over his last seven starts. Over his last four starts, he’s gone 1-3 with an 8.85 ERA. The bright spot for Bundy is that in three games (one start) versus the Rangers, he’s gone 1-0 while giving up just two hits over eleven shutout innings.

After holding the Angels to just one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings, Ross seems to have fully recovered from an injury-riddled first half and owns a solid 3.24 ERA over his last 16 2/3 innings of work. The bad news for Ross is that he’s allowed nineteen runs on nineteen hits over ten innings of work versus the Birds in his career. That folks, is good for a 17.10 ERA spread out over seven games (one start).

 

Game Three

Kevin Gausman (5-7, 6.39 ERA) will get the nod against southpaw Martin Perez (5-6, 4.55 ERA) on Wednesday.

Gausman was dismantled to the tune of eight runs on seven hits (four homers) over just three innings of work during his last start versus the Cubs. As a result, he’s now allowed thirteen runs on sixteen hits over his last seven innings on the mound (two starts), which results in a horrid 16.71 ERA. His back-to-back shutout starts that preceded his current rut now seem like a distant memory. Over five games (four starts) versus the Rangers, Gausman has gone 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA.

Perez is another Texas starter that’s returning to form, holding the Royals to three runs on eight hits over seven innings during his last outing. Over his last three starts, the native Venezuelan has gone 2-0 while recording a solid 3.86 ERA over 18 2/3 innings. In four career starts versus the Orioles, Perez has gone 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA.

 

Game Four

Wade Miley (4-8, 5.40 ERA) will take the hill versus Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.05 ERA) in the series finale on Thursday.

Miley was roughed up to the tune of seven runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings during his last outing versus the Cubs, and now owns a 2-5 record and a 10.20 ERA over his last eight starts. Over his last ten starts, Miley has gone 3-6 with an 8.46 ERA. As if that didn’t get you excited, he’s also posted a 1-5 record along with a 5.75 ERA over seven career starts versus the Rangers.

After missing two full months with an oblique injury, Hamels has returned to his amazing self. After silencing the Royals by allowing just four hits over 7 2/3 shutout innings during his last start, Hamels has now racked up 15 1/3 straight scoreless innings. Over his last three starts, he’s gone 2-0 with a microscopic 0.82 ERA over 22 innings of work. However, he has gone just 1-3 with a 4.32 ERA over five career starts versus Baltimore.

That’s it for now, Orioles fans!

Here’s to a better result than last weekend….

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The Rundown: What Can the O’s Get for their Relievers?

orioles pitcher with arm back and about to throw ball

After being swept over the weekend by the Chicago Cubs and another series in which their starting pitching was embarrassed, it appears the Orioles are one step closer to throwing in the towel for the 2017 season.

 

Re-Tool or Rebuild?

Fellow writer Joe Polek did a great job outlining what the Orioles should do at the deadline and he suggests a re-tooling instead of a full rebuild which I completely agree with.

The O’s still have a quality core and don’t need to blow everything up. The Manny Machado decision can be made this time next year as I’m a strong believer that teams can still get a strong crop of players in a trade even if the acquiring squad is just getting a two-month rental. You think a contender wouldn’t pay out the nose for Manny next July?

No matter how the next two weeks go, I’ll be disappointed if Seth Smith, Hyun-Soo Kim and Welington Castillo remain on the roster when August 1st hits. Smith and Kim definitely won’t be back next year and Castillo more than likely will want to test free agency again.

Smith and Kim won’t bring much in return, but Castillo could net something if there’s a team that feels they need a catcher.

However, the biggest chance to get a strong crop of players that will help in a re-tool is by trading Zach Britton and/or Brad Brach.

 

What are reasonable expectations if Britton or Brach are traded?

Let’s take a look at some recent trades involving relievers:

The Oakland Athletics traded Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Washington Nationals for two prospects and reliever Blake Treinen. Baseball America has the two prospects the Nationals traded – Sheldon Neuse and Jesus Luzardo – as top 20 players in the Nationals organization. However, there are other publications that are more optimistic on those prospects. The bottom line is the Nationals gave up two above average prospects for two relievers that I consider worse than Darren O’Day.

Here are more comparable trades to the talent level of Britton and Brach:

The New York Yankees acquired prospects Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield from the Cleveland Indians for reliever Andrew Miller last July. Baseball America’s midseason prospect rankings at that time had Frazier as the 21st prospect in all of baseball and Sheffield as the 69th. In their latest mid-season report, Frazier ranks 49th and Sheffield 73rd. It should be noted that Frazier is in the big leagues now and is playing well.

The Yankees again acquired prospects when they traded Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs knew this was a rental, but still decided to give up the 27th prospect in baseball at that time in shortstop Gleyber Torres. Despite being out for the remainder of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Torres is currently ranked as the third best prospect in baseball.

The Yanks also acquired outfield prospect Billy McKinney who cracked top 100 lists early in his career and at the age of 22 has recently been promoted to Triple-A and is off to a nice start.

So what does this mean for the Orioles?

It appears Britton is the hottest name, with the Los Angeles Dodgers being the most serious bidders. The Dodgers currently have four players in Baseball America’s top 100 midseason prospects list with two of those players being pitchers. I’d imagine at least one, maybe two players would come from those four if a trade is made.

Whoever is traded – and this will come as no shock – the Orioles need to target pitching in return. If they are truly in re-tool mode, the core hitters they have now along with a few in the minors will help them stay competitive. The regression of Kevin Gausman along with no immediate help in the minors means they need to not only find pitchers, but pitchers that are on the verge of being in the big leagues.

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Week(end) in Review: Mid-July Massacre

A Cubs player watches the ball sail at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

If there were still any of you out there who were as optimistic about our chances of turning it around in the second half as I was, you’re probably pretty bummed on this dreary Monday morning.

Bummed doesn’t begin to do it justice. More along the lines of gutted, hopeless and heartbroken. The feeling is like when you catch your girlfriend cheating on you with your best friend three days in a row while “Black” by Pearl Jam, “Where did you sleep last night” by Nirvana and “Nutshell” by Alice in Chains are stuck in a constant loop on the radio afterwards.

John Carpenter couldn’t have scripted something so savage and brutal. Maybe the late Wes Craven could have, but that’s a debate for another day.

In the meantime, we just had to sit through the “Nightmare on Eutaw Street: Part II” and wonder if the Orioles can ever snap back into the swing of things.

Maybe…Maybe not… Who knows.

All I know is that anything, and I mean anything, will be better than what transpired this weekend.

As a result of being beaten, battered, bruised and broken by the reigning champs, the Orioles are now nine games behind the first place Red Sox in the chase for the division title and have fallen 5.5-games behind the Rays for the second wild card spot in the AL.

We also know that the 2012-2016 Orioles could still show up at some point and make things interesting, but the window is slamming shut in a hurry. The Orioles are stuck in quicksand and despite their efforts, their ship is sinking fast.

To make matters worse, the vicious cycle of losing that they’re caught in and can’t get out of looks to be forcing the Orioles’ hand into selling at the deadline. While a total overhaul may not be necessary, you can’t ignore that the fact that this squad needs to be revamped and the farm system needs to be restocked.

While we knew that they weren’t a star-studded cast of pitchers, few would have expected the starting rotation to let the team down as much as they have this season. Even fewer would have predicted such a roller coaster season from our high-powered offense. More than one thing has gone wrong during the current campaign.

All eyes on 2018 and beyond I guess, because 2017 just hasn’t played out the way that we all had hoped. We’re one more long losing streak away from counting it as a lost season, and that’s a tough pill to swallow considering the direction of the franchise was at stake coming into the season.

All we can do at this point is hope for better times ahead. And maybe ask for a starting rotation for Christmas this Winter.

Just remember to enjoy the ride, folks. Better times will follow.

And don’t lose your faith in this team. They won’t stay down for fourteen years this time around.

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Orioles Having Some Sort of Game of Thrones Night/Package (Update)

Winter is Here

The Orioles’ season is going nowhere fast, and we’re all just waiting to see if they’ll start selling off players here in the next few days. Losing (badly) and trading some of your best players is a sure-fire way to end up with a whole lotta empty seats at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Fortunately, it looks like the fine folks in the Birds’ marketing department are hitting dingers, even if some of Baltimore’s other employees aren’t:

They say that more info is coming soon. For now all we know is this:

1. “Winter is Here” night is August 22

2. Somebody at MLB Advanced Media deserves a raise for this video

3. There is a ticket package involved

Hey, if your team isn’t very entertaining, why not glom onto one of the most hyped-up programs in all of the entertainment world? I give the O’s big ups for this promotion. I already have tickets for August 22, of course, so maybe I’ll be moving them back a night.

There isn’t much info here now, but check out Orioles.com/GameofThrones periodically for more.

Our friends over at Bird’s Eye View have done a Game of Thrones Orioles post in the past, and it’s worth your time to go look at their creative works.

Update 7/20: They’ve released some more details, and this got interesting quickly:

The Game of Thrones® ticket package includes an exclusive bullpen pregame party, plus each fan will receive a limited Adam Jones: The Watcher on the Wall t-shirt and a chance to sit on the Iron Throne. Tickets are $65 for left field lower box and $45 for left field upper box.

You can sit on the darn Iron Throne! They have a picture of it and everything:

AND, you get this sweet Adam Jones shirt:

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O’s Should Re-Tool for 2018, Not Rebuild

Brady Anderson and Dan Duquette talk with a microphone.

The Baltimore Orioles are 42-49, which is good for 4th place in the American League East, and 5 games out of a wild card birth. Since 2012, the O’s have been a very competitive team, especially in what many consider the toughest division in baseball. They have spent a significant amount of time in first place over the last couple of years which is why their fall since May this season has been so hard for fans to handle.

The tough season this team is having is not a “rough stretch,” as they went through last year a couple of times. This is a team that just isn’t that good. For the last few years, the Birds have made a move for a marginal starting pitcher at the trade deadline and hoped that it would put them over the top. This year, a move like that will do nothing. It’s time for General Manager Dan Duquette to decide where this team is truly headed.

For a team that had the best record in the American League from 2012-2016 (and the first month of 2017), the O’s have not been that far off. During that stretch, they were able to make the playoffs three times, which included one AL East Division Title. However, the Orioles have a lot of big name players whose contracts end after next season… Manny Machado, Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Adam Jones, and Welington Castillo (if he picks up his player option after this year).

The Birds cannot afford to re-sign all those players. So, should Baltimore do a Miami Marlins-style “fire sale” and get rid of all veterans players to bring in a bunch of quality minor leaguers that will help this team in the years to come? Or do they make a few moves that will definitely hurt the team this season, but could help them re-tool and give it one more shot in 2018 before a full rebuild in 2019?

No fan base wants to go through a full re-build. That can takes years, and Baltimore fans already went through 14 years of a “rebuild” to get to where they have been the last five years. I am hoping for a re-tool this month (and off-season).

According to Ken Rosenthal, Duquette is telling teams that two of these three are available: Britton, Brad Brach, and Darren O’Day. If that’s the case, then I would move O’Day for sure, and then I would move whoever I could get more for between Britton and Brach. The other becomes the closer next year, with Mychal Givens as a set-up man.

Rosenthal’s article also said that Seth Smith is available. That’s fine. Trey Mancini will do just find in right field for years to come.

I would like to see what the O’s could get for Castillo. Caleb Joseph has proven to be a top defensive catcher and offensively, the more playing time he gets the better he has become. Plus, with Chance Sisco and Francisco Pena in the minors, the Orioles have enough depth in that position.

The Orioles still have an offensive core that makes them competitive next year, if they improve their pitching. I’d like to see any moves this month made with the vision of going for a divisional title in 2018. But if next season starts off like this season has, then at this time next year, you could have to look at trading away Manny Machado. You can try to sign Machado long term this offseason, but there is no way that you allow him to reach free agency. If he does, you lose him for nothing.

Adam Jones is another player that is up for debate. Some say that you trade him this month. If you are rebuilding for the future, then yes. But I am retooling for next year and I want Jones on that team. If things go wrong next year then you can try to trade him away before he hits free agency.

The biggest question is Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Will he allow the Duquette to trade away these players? If so, trading away Brach, O’Day, Castillo, and Smith might help as a first step for retooling the Orioles for a run in 2018.

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Series Preview: Orioles (42-46) vs. Cubs (43-45)

cubs pitcher winded back before throwing pitch

After (hopefully) recharging their batteries over the last four days, the Orioles will look to come out of the break swinging this weekend versus the reigning World Champion Chicago Cubs.

While the All-Star Break was fun, it’s time to get down to business. The Orioles might not have to climb Mount Everest to get back in the fight, but they’re certainly down on the score cards. The time for error has come and gone, and it’ll take a total team effort to get to the promise land. However, their current situation isn’t necessarily uncharted waters for this squad.

These Orioles are capable. They’ve been counted out and written off before, and they’ve proven doubters wrong on more than one occasion. They’ll need to do so again down the stretch.

The Orioles (42-46) will roll into the second half of the season 7.5-games behind Boston for first place in the division, but just four games out of the wild card picture. They’ll also kick off the latter part of the season with a massive ten-game home stand, which will more than likely provide the direction of their approach to the trade deadline. If they can go on a winning tear, they might try to buy or at least stand pat. If they fall further off the pace in the chase for the playoffs, you may see some bags being packed. To say this is the biggest ten-game stretch of the season to date would be an understatement.

The Cubs (43-45) have already proven themselves to be buyers as they look to claw their way back into a playoff spot. The reigning champions would at least like a chance to defend their crown, but it won’t be easy for them after going through a rough first half. They’re 5.5-games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central, but they’ll have to rely on a strong second half and a drop-off in form from the red-hot Brewers to have a real shot at reaching the postseason. They already trail the Colorado Rockies by 7.5-games for the second wild card spot in the NL.

You never want to rule out the team that won the title during the last campaign, but they definitely have their work cut out for them, just like the Orioles.

This weekend will mark the Cubbies’ first trip to Camden Yards since their first-ever trip to Baltimore back in 2003. They had a pretty good team back then, too. The last time that these two squads faced each other, the Cubs swept the Orioles over a three-game set at Wrigley in 2014.

How will the story line play out this time around? We’re about to find out. Let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Kevin Gausman (5-7, 5.85 ERA) will take the mound versus Mike Montgomery (1-6, 3.75 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Before allowing five runs on nine hits over four innings during his last start versus the Twins, Gausman had recorded back-to-back shutout starts versus Tampa Bay and Toronto. The Orioles will need a huge second half from Gausman in order to have any hope for a playoff run. Despite struggling for most of the first half, the Orioles flamethrower has notched an impressive 3.27 ERA over his last four outings. Here’s to more of the same going forward.

Montgomery will be making his first career start versus the Orioles after getting tagged to the tune of giving up seven runs on six hits over just 2 1/3 innings his last time out versus the Brewers. Over his last four contests, the southpaw has recorded an 0-3 record and an 8.00 ERA.

 

Game Two

Wade Miley (4-7, 4.97 ERA) will get the nod versus former Oriole and Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta (8-7. 4.35 ERA) on Saturday.

Miley finally turned in a decent outing during his last start of the first half by allowing just a single run on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings versus the Twins. Like Gausman, the Orioles will need more of the same from their southpaw as he’s posted a 9.64 ERA over his last seven outings and a 7.87 ERA over his last nine. The promising part is that he’s gone 4-1 with a solid 3.46 ERA over six career starts versus the Cubs.

Arrieta allowed three runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings during his last outing against the Pirates after throwing seven shutout innings against the Reds during his previous start. While Arrieta labored through an off-key first half, he has shown signs of returning to his Cy Young-caliber self as he’s gone seven innings while allowing one run or fewer in two of his last four starts. When he faced his former club for the first time at Wrigley in 2014, he allowed just a single run on four singles over seven dominant innings in a winning effort.

 

Game Three

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4, 6.67 ERA) will take the hill against the newly acquired Jose Quintana (4-8, 4.49 ERA in the AL) in the series finale on Sunday.

Jimenez struggled in Minnesota during his last start, allowing four runs on four hits over five innings, but still recorded his third win in five attempts. During that span, he’s posted a 6.59 ERA. Over his last three contests, Jimenez has gone 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA. Over five career starts versus the Cubs, he’s gone 1-3 with a 5.14 ERA.

Quintana, who was just acquired from the South Side of Chicago, will make his Cubs debut against the Orioles. He went 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA with the White Sox during the first half of the season. During his final outing with the ChiSox, he allowed three runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Rockies while racking up ten strikeouts. Over six career starts versus Baltimore, the southpaw has gone 1-4 with a 4.29 ERA.

 

Finally, baseball is back!

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Friday’s O’s Links: Dodgers Want Zach Britton, Will Angelos Sell?

side profile of orioles player britton holding glove by face before pitch

The worst four days of the summer are FINALLY over, as baseball returns to the Yard tonight. The O’s kick off the second half by hosting the World Champion Cubs, who are scuffling in 2017. It’ll be fun to see those guys come to town though, especially Saturday’s starter, Jake Arrieta.

Hopefully the O’s aren’t very accommodating guests as they begin a crucial 10-game homestand.

To the links!

5th Annual BEVy Awards

Woo hoo! Jake & Scott’s annual awards show celebrates year five. The perfect way to review the first half and get ready for the dog days of summer. This year’s version features another wonderful musical number from Jake, and a characteristically cringe-worthy one from Scott (hey, I’d be right there with ya, SM).

Can the Orioles Sway Owner Angelos?

Jon Heyman reports that if the O’s front office wants to sell this July, they’ll have to convince ol’ Petey that it’s the right move. I didn’t realize this, but it’s exactly right, and it’s probably the biggest culprit in the team’s 14-year run of futility from 1998-2011: Pete has NEVER sold in season.

If the Dodgers Want Zach Britton, Who Should the O’s Want?

If Pete can be convinced, the Birds will have plenty of suitors for Zach Britton, among others. Word is that the Dodgers are very interested. So which of their prospects should the O’s want in return? Camden Chat’s Brice Freeman investigates.

Should the Orioles Trade for Maikel Franco?

Matt Perez of Camden Chat takes the other angle, assuming that the O’s will be buyers. In that case, should Philly shortstop Maikel Franco be on their radar? Ugh.

NY Supreme Court Renders Split Decision in MASN Case

But the O’s can appeal. If there’s one thing Angelos loves more than buyin’, it’s litigatin’. Back to court!

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O’s First-Half Report Card: Pitchers

Now that we’ve graded out the hitters on the squad, let’s hand out the grades for the Orioles pitching staff.

Grading out the hitters was pretty fun. This will be….less fun? Yeah, let’s go with that.

Let’s rip the band-aid off and get to it!

Dylan Bundy looks in for a sign.

Dylan Bundy

Bundy hit the 2017 season with hurricane force and ended the month of April with a 3-1 record and a sparkling 1.65 ERA over five starts. He followed up by posting a solid 3-2 record and a 3.92 ERA over six starts in May, but has seen his season go south in a hurry since. He recorded a 5.93 ERA over five starts in June and owns an 11.00 ERA through his first two starts in July. After starting out the year going 6-3 with a 2.89 ERA, he finished the first half with an 8-8 record along with a 4.33 ERA over eighteen starts and 108 innings. Here’s to the All-Star break providing the spark for the return of ”Dealin’ Bundy”.

Grade: B-

Kevin Gausman delivers the pitch.

Kevin Gausman

Gausman got off to a nightmare start to the campaign after notching a 7.50 ERA through six starts in April, but then looked like he was on the mend after going 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA over six starts in May. However, his season took a sharp turn south again with a 6.41 ERA over five starts in June. He’s 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA through two starts in July. On the year, the Orioles opening day starter owns a 5-7 record and a 5.85 ERA over nineteen starts and 97 innings.

Grade: E

Ubaldo JImenez prepares to wind up.

Ubaldo Jimenez

”Forrest Gump” is at it again in 2017.  However, other than a couple of gems, he’s been pretty hard to watch. Over eighteen games and thirteen starts, Jimenez has gone 4-4 with a 6.67 ERA over 83 2/3 innings.

Grade: E

Wade Miley of the Orioles pitches from the mound.

Wade Miley

Miley was phenomenal to begin the season and finished the month of April with a stellar 2.32 ERA over five starts. What has transpired since has been nothing short of a disaster, highlighted by a 7.48 ERA over six starts in June and a 9.82 ERA over two starts this month. On the year, Miley owns a 4-7 record and a 4.97 ERA over eighteen starts and 88 2/3 innings.

Grade: E

Chris Tillman winds up to pitch.

Chris Tillman

The Orioles’ “Ace” over the past five seasons might want to shut it down this year. Over eleven starts since returning to the team in May, Tillman has gone 1-5 with a 7.90 ERA, a 2.14 WHIP and a .362 BAA over 49 innings of work. He posted a 9.69 ERA over six starts in June.

Grade: F

Zach Britton throws in spring training.

Zach Britton

The Orioles’ star closer missed two full months with a forearm injury. However, he did go 5-for-5 in save situations back in April before being shut down and his presence alone seems to have provided a boost to the team. He owns a 2.25 ERA over eleven appearances on the year.

Grade: B

Brad Brach looks in for a sign from the catcher.

Brad Brach

Brach posted a stellar 1.93 ERA over 13 games in April, and even after struggling at first with the task of filling the shoes of Britton (5.40 ERA over eleven games in May), Brach has been on fire since. He snapped back into form with a 1.46 ERA over 12 contests in June and has recorded two scoreless outings so far in July. On the year, he owns a stellar 2.58 ERA over 38 1/3 innings and has gone 15-for-19 in save situations. He also boasts a stellar 0.86 WHIP and a .167 BAA.

Grade: B+

Mychal Givens

Givens hit the ground running with a 1.29 ERA over eleven contests before stumbling as the lead set-up guy in May (4.73 ERA over thirteen games). Like Brach, Givens wasted no time in bouncing back into top form with a microscopic 0.71 ERA over ten appearances in June. On the year, Givens owns a sparkling 2.25 ERA over 44 innings along with an impressive 1.02 WHIP and a .206 BAA. Boasting a 6-0 record is just a bonus.

Grade: B+

Richard Bleier

Few would have expected Bleier to have such a positive impact on the bullpen, but he’s done just that. After being called up in May, Bleier posted a 2.84 ERA over nine contests that month before notching a miniscule 0.75 ERA over twelve games in June. He’s racked up four scoreless outings so far in July as well. On the year, he boasts a remarkable 1.48 ERA over 30 1/3 innings.

Grade: B

Darren O'Day pitches.

Darren O’Day

After a horror story of a season in 2016, O’Day struggled for form in April before returning to his vintage self with a stellar 1.64 ERA over eleven contests in May. A shoulder injury in June almost derailed his comeback season, but he looks to be fine after recording four scoreless outings so far this month. O’Day owns a solid 3.86 ERA over 30 1/3 innings this season along with an impressive 1.09 WHIP and a .179 BAA.

Grade: C+

Donnie Hart

Hart was immaculate in April with a 0.00 ERA over twelve contests, but was sent back down to Norfolk after recording a 7.36 ERA over eight games in May. However, after returning to the team in June, he looks to have his confidence back and has notched four scoreless outings since. On the year, the southpaw owns a 2.96 ERA over 24 1/3 innings.

Grade: C+

 

Miguel Castro

Castro looks to be becoming a staple in the Orioles bullpen, and owns an impressive 2.25 ERA over five contests so far this month. On the year, he has notched a solid 3.31 ERA over 16 1/3 innings.

Grade: C

Baltimore-Norfolk Shuttle

Yeahh……..this isn’t really working out. Hopefully, the guys listed above will prove to be the end of this experiment.

Grade: E

That’s a wrap for our Mid-Season grades!

Again, let us know how your grades stack up! The pitching staff grades should be pretty unanimous, but hey, we want to know anyway!

Enjoy the rest of the break, everyone!

All O’s photos: Craig Landefeld/GulfBird Photo

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Thursday Thoughts: O’s Will Add…Something, but Not Much

dan duquette speaking at orioles press conference

This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl WeaverBrooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. We’ve almost made it through the most dreadful two days on the baseball calendar. No offense to the Triple-A All-Star Game, but it doesn’t do much for me. At least there was the Home Run Derby and MLB All-Star Game on Monday and Tuesday to keep us busy. Between yesterday and today, there’s nothing but waiting for a baseball fan. The second “half” of the season gets underway tomorrow, and for the Orioles, there will be a few tense weeks.

It’s obvious that the first half didn’t go as planned, but there are certainly positives to take from it. They are things like the seasons being had by Jonathan Schoop or Trey Mancini that the Birds hope can continue going forward. But there’s no question that in order to be in contention come September, the team is going to have to improve in some way.

Based on comments from Dan Duquette, he expects that to be by the level of play from the current members of the roster. The biggest question that still needs to be answered in the next few weeks is how exactly that roster may change.

2. When it comes to the Orioles and the trade deadline, I truly have no idea. I don’t think anyone really has an idea. I don’t think Duquette really has an idea. This whole notion of the O’s being “buyers” at the deadline is a smokescreen in my mind. They want fans to believe they are buyers, but truthfully they don’t have anything to make purchases (trades) with. This is a depleted farm system that carries virtually no value to a team looking to deal.

There also aren’t going to be too many teams looking to be sellers. The American League is so incredibly close that everyone can think they are a buyer. My best guess is that the O’s add a reliever. Not a good reliever, just some sort of reliever. Not a well-known player or a pitcher that can have a major impact. Just an arm. Just like they’ve done over the last few months in adding mediocre players to a fairly mediocre roster.

That’s about all I’d expect, and I’d expect they’ll spin that into being buyers.

Don’t expect the O’s to start shipping away players. That kind of thing hasn’t happened in a long time in Baltimore.

3. One thing the Orioles do have to look forward to as the second half of the season gets underway is the return of Chris Davis. It’d be nice to have the highest-paid player on the team start performing like it.

There’s been some chatter since we saw Schoop shift over to shortstop last week that there could be more movement along the infield upon Davis’ return. Ideas that include Davis playing third base with Manny Machado at shortstop have been tossed out there. I can’t imagine Buck Showalter would want to mix things up like that and take Davis off first base. This would allow Trey Mancini to play first base as opposed to the outfield and leaves the DH role for Mark Trumbo.

Davis’ defense at first base is very valuable, however, so I don’t think the O’s go down that route unless they get desperate to churn the lineup.

4. Former Baltimore Sun writer and current Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal revealed yesterday that his writing will no longer be featured on Fox’s website. In fact, Fox’s website will have no writing content, as it’s gone completely to videos. It’s another step in an alarming direction for Fox Sports and sports media in general. I know there are a lot of Orioles fans who don’t care for Rosenthal, but he’s one of the game’s best writers and voices. He’s been pushed aside with other great writing talents like Jayson Stark, who was recently let go from ESPN.

While Rosenthal’s reporting work can still be seen on Fox telecasts, his writing will not. Instead, Rosenthal has been forced to put his articles on Facebook until he finds another medium to publish his stories.

That’s a shame for the entire baseball writing industry.

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