Facebook

Bird Feed

Thursday Thoughts: Missed Opportunity Punctuates Trip Full of Them

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 don’t think I’ve ever seen a player stare at more called third strikes that end up right down the heart of the plate than Chris Davis in 2017. The Orioles first baseman has been an absolute mystery at the plate this season. Actually, he looks like he’s attempting to solve a mystery (and he’s not doing well).

Yesterday’s strikeout to end the game in Seattle was the most egregious I think I’ve ever seen.

It’s fitting that 10 days of mostly missed opportunities (more on that below) would end in a missed opportunity like this – bases loaded, down by one, highest-paid player in team history at the dish…and he leaves the bat on his shoulder.

Despite the fact that he spent a month on the disabled list, Davis still leads baseball in strikeouts looking. When you combine the circumstances, it’s unfathomable that Davis was even allowed to hit. Adam Jones sat on the bench, having been given the day off, and watched all of that go down.

I don’t know what Buck Showalter was thinking, only that it made no sense to leave Davis in the game for that spot. It’ll be a week before I’m finished stewing over the absurdity of that non-move.

2. The west coast trip for the Orioles was, on the whole, very bad. Going 4-6 with three of those losses coming by one run and another by two runs is just excruciating. There’s no real way to sugarcoat what the Orioles left on the table. While there’s still six weeks left in the season, opportunities like the one the O’s just had on the west coast won’t be there much down the stretch.

Outside of games against Toronto and a few more against the A’s, the Birds will be playing other teams in contention from here on out. Being a handful of games under .500 already and with so many teams to climb over, the Orioles are basically already in the playoffs.

Don’t get me wrong, there are worse places to be in mid-August. They could be well out of it. The last ten days just feels like a massive missed opportunity.

3. Speaking of opportunity, Anthony Santander is up with the club after being reinstated from the DL. Don’t expect Santander to become any kind of a savior or immediately start taking up playing time, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a limited role at some point over the next few weeks. Remember that he must remain on the roster the rest of this season and for more than a month of next season to shed his Rule 5 status.

Anthony Santander of the Orioles prepares to throw.

GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld

It should be easy for the O’s to hide Santander for the most part. They’ve successfully done it with Ruben Tejada over the last few weeks. I say that confidently because I had to double check that he was actually still on the 25-man roster.

Once September rolls around and the rosters expand, it’ll be even easier to hide Santander. What’s more interesting is that the O’s have already gambled to the point where they feel like he’ll be able to make the club out of spring training next year. This team is obviously starved for outfield talent still. Trey Mancini has developed himself into a great option, but there are still holes on this roster.

I’m not saying Santander is the definitive answer, but he could help fill in parts of the puzzle.

4. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, so hearing that members of the 1992 Orioles are coming back to Camden Yards this weekend to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ballpark has me giddy. Players like Cal Ripken Jr., Bill Ripken, Mike Mussina, Rick Sutcliff and Mark McLemore will be back for what I’m sure will be a good time.

Even better? There will be a home run derby! Brady Anderson, Mike Devereaux, Chris Hoiles, Sam Horn and Joe Orsulak will take part on Saturday in the event. I have no idea how that will play out, but I’m more than interested in hearing about it.

I’m of the age that my only real memories of Memorial Stadium were going to Ravens games there. I attended O’s games on 33rd Street, but was so young that I don’t remember them. I grew up at Camden Yards. I fondly remember being in attendance for the 1993 All-Star Game. I remember watching Cal trot around the warning track for 2131. I was there a year later when Eddie Murray slugged his 500th homer. I was at the game Felix Pie hit for the cycle. I also saw the big-league debut of Matt Wieters and the celebration of 60 years of Orioles baseball.

Camden Yards is 25 years old, and still has the charm of a new ballpark. It’ll always be home to me.

Read Full Article

The O’s Have MLB’s Best Second-Half Offense

Manny Machado follows through on his swing.

It’s mid-August, and once again the Baltimore Orioles find themselves right in the thick of a playoff hunt. While they don’t really have a realistic shot at the AL East title – barring an unforeseen dominant run coupled with collapses by both Boston and New York – they are within spitting distance of both wild card spots. As play started on Tuesday, they sat 2.0 games back of the second spot, and just four games back of the first.

Thanks to a nice little run of 17-11, they’ve recovered from their season low of seven games under .500, and have a chance to get back to even again tonight.

And they’ve had the offense to thank, for the most part.

While the pitching has indeed been better – their 4.37 ERA in the second half is good for seventh in the AL, a far cry from the 5.07 they put up in the first half, worst in the league – the offense has been nothing short of remarkable.

Here in the 2017 second half, Baltimore’s offense has the best wRC+ in MLB at 120. For a quick wRC+ primer, click here. If you don’t feel like getting into all that, here’s the gist – 120 means that the O’s offense has been 20% better than the average MLB offense in the second half.

Here’s where they rank in some more traditional measures (again, all in the second half):

Runs – 1st (176)
Home runs – 2nd (50)
Batting average – T1st (.289)
On-Base Percentage – 4th (.343)
Slugging percentage – 1st (.497)

And for the more Sabermetrically-minded among us:

wOBA – 1st (.355)
fWAR – T2nd (6.3)
ISO – 4th (.208)

In short, Birdland Power Company is back in action!

During the first half, for comparison’s sake, the O’s were 22nd in MLB in wRC+ (92), 22nd in runs, 11th in home runs, 17th in batting average (.254), 26th in OBP (.308), 14th in slugging (.425), 22nd in wOBA (.313), and 24th in fWAR.

In table form:

So, who have been the main contributors in the turnaround?

Of course, Tim Beckham leads the way with a ridiculous wRC+ of 278 over his 60 plate appearances since coming to Baltimore. Others who are raking have been Seth Smith (175 in 66 PA), Welington Castillo (157 in 68 PA), Manny Machado (142 in 139 PA), Jonathan Schoop (139 in 139 PA), Adam Jones (126 in 141 PA), Caleb Joseph (114 in 59 PA), and Trey Mancini (111 in 122 PA).

Again, a table:

This stands in stark contrast to 2016, when their bats went to sleep after the first half, dooming them from any dreams of a division title, dooming them to playing the AL wild card game on the road, and ultimately dooming them to a loss in said wild card game, in which they managed just two runs, and one baserunner over the game’s final five innings.

Last year, the offense started off hot, and then fell off the table. This year, it started cold, but has steadily heated up along with the summer temperatures.

Naturally, this comes with all the usual caveats – the “second half” has so far consisted of just over a month of baseball; there are still six-plus weeks of baseball to go, and we’ve certainly seen the Birds’ bats cool off as the leaves begin to fall before.

Still, let’s dream a bit, shall we?

Certainly Beckham won’t keep up this Best-Player-in-MLB pace (though matching his career 108 would be just fine!)…but what if Chris Davis were to rebound and put up a second half similar to the one he posted in 2015, with a wRC+ of 188? What if Mark Trumbo can even sniff his 2016 first-half wRC+ of 143?

There is no reason to think that this offense can’t carry the Birds to the postseason. As quiet as the bats were heading into last October, it would certainly be nice to enter the tournament riding a scorching hot attack for a change.

And if nothing else, it’s nice to see this team mashing again. To see them winning games they way they are built to win games.

It had been a long calendar year of anemic offense in Baltimore, and the drought, my friends, is finally over.

 

 

(stats via FanGraphs. “1st half” & “2nd half” is pre & post All-Star Break, per their definitions.)

Read Full Article

The Rundown: Beckham Rakes, Davis Heats Up, Roster Moves Loom

Anthony Santander of the Orioles swings.

The Orioles’ recent offensive surge continued on Monday night in Seattle with the O’s scoring 11 runs on 16 hits which included four home runs.

A victory in one of the next two games would guarantee at least a .500 road trip, a scenario most fans would usually accept when the team heads out west. However, at this point in the season, the O’s need to stack wins so it will feel a little disappointing.

 

Beckham Continues to Rake

Tim Beckham is just the latest in the “nobody saw this coming” department. It amazes me that Dan Duquette has pulled off moves like this throughout his tenure, finding lightning in a bottle again and again…and then makes other moves like giving away Parker Bridwell for nothing, signing Ubaldo Jimenez to a big contract and signing Yovani Gallardo period.

Win some, lose some, I suppose.

Beckham clearly had the talent, as evidenced by his first overall selection in the draft, but he has arrived at the perfect time for this team. He has been a clear spark plug that provides speed that the O’s have lacked and his energy is clearly contagious.

The biggest thing for Beckham will be his defense as he has made sensational plays already, but has also botched a few routine plays that we have been accustomed to seeing being made with ease by J.J. Hardy.

Duquette pointed out that Beckham just needed to get away from the ugly ballpark of Tropicana Field and he may be right. In Beckham’s career, according to BaseballReference.com, the shortstop has a .232 batting average playing in a dome compared to a .319 batting average playing outside.

Is it really just that simple? I’m not sure, but if it is, that’s impressive by whoever noticed that.

 

Davis Heating Up

It has been a rough two seasons for Chris Davis, and the slugger hit one of his low points in his Orioles career when Buck Showalter moved him down to seventh in the order.

It appears the mental day off along with the demotion may have woken Davis up, as he has collected six hits in the four games he has batted seventh. We know Davis can carry an offense when he is hot, the problem is those stretches have been few and far between over the last two seasons. Those stretches have also not lasted as long.

The offense is rolling right now, but it will go a long way if Davis can get hot for at least a month or find his stroke from August and September of 2015 when he was an absolute monster. This team needs to get on a roll and they need the players they are paying a lot of money to be part of that.

Roster Moves Coming

The Orioles were probably hoping they could avoid making these decisions until September 1st when rosters expand and they wouldn’t have to risk losing a player, but the timing did not work. Ryan Flaherty and Anthony Santander will join the Orioles when they return back home which means two roster moves will have to be made.

Ruben Tejada will more than likely be the corresponding move for Flaherty and he will have to pass through waivers to remain in the organization. There are many teams that would love to have a utility infielder, so Tejada could easily be claimed. I like Tejada and feel like he has a place in the organization, but in the end, he’s just a utility infielder.

The bigger question surrounds what player leaves when Santander is added to the roster. Craig Gentry is the likely choice, and as is the case will Tejada, he will have to clear waivers to stay in the organization.

Gentry is the quintessential September player with his ability to pinch run and be used as a late inning defensive replacement. In my mind, that means a team will scoop him up which will be a loss for the O’s, as he brings something to the table.

The question is, would the Orioles option Joey Rickard for two weeks to ensure Gentry remains in the organization?

I think that is a realistic scenario, one the organization has probably thought about. This could be more realistic if the team will be facing a string of right-handed pitchers.

It will be interesting to see what roster machinations are in store.

Read Full Article

Felix Pie, Cycles, and Things You’ve Never Seen Before

They say every time you go to a baseball game you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. This is my story about seeing three things I’d never seen before…all in the same night.

On August 14th, 2009, I went to Camden Yards, along with several dozen fellow Chief Petty Officers, for a night at the ballpark. A chance to mix and mingle outside the workspace. Most of the people in attendance weren’t baseball fans and, in fact, would spend the game on the concourse socializing and having a few (too many?) adult beverages. But I can’t go to a ballgame without paying attention to the game in front of me and it turned out this game provided a few reasons to pay attention. Even in the middle of a lost season on a hot and steamy Baltimore night in August.

Let’s not sugarcoat things. The Orioles of 2009 were bad and as August 14th dawned they were 47-67. In last place in the division. Twenty-four and a half games out of first place. On their way to the fourth straight year of losing more than ninety games. The Orioles lineup for the game was as follows.

Roberts 2b
Jones CF
Markakis RF
Huff 1B
Reimold DH
Wieters C
Mora 3b
Pie LF
Izturis, Cesar SS

Well, pass another beer and let’s see what happens.

The Angels, who entered the game leading the AL West by 4.5 games, put up 2 runs in the first inning, but the Orioles responded with 6 (SIX!) in their half against Jered Weaver. They sent 11 hitters to the plate and nibbled Weaver to death which, let’s face it, is what you do to Weaver. Three doubles, three singles, two walks. One of those doubles was from Felix Pie. One of those singles was from Cesar Izturis.

Time passes. Beers are drunk. Stories are told. In the bottom of the 3rd, Pie hits a home run. The Angels answer back in the top of the 4th with a Bobby Abreu home run and it’s 7-3. In their half of the 4th the Orioles mount a rally and tack on a run (goodbye Mr. Weaver) but Pie strikes out with the bases loaded and the inning ends with the Birds up 8-3.

The Orioles’ starting pitcher, who’s making his fourth MLB start, works a perfect 5th inning. Izturis leads off the bottom with a double and in turn gets doubled home by Roberts. 9-3.

The game bogs down. Not much happening. Conversations are becoming more important than what’s happening on the field. The O’s starter gives up a two out single in the 7th and gets pulled. Unfortunately, Matt Albers comes in from the pen (eight years later he’s still, somehow, in the majors) and promptly coughs up two runs. 9-5.

That’s when things got interesting. Pie singled to start the 7th and Izturis tripled him home. Roberts, Jones, and Markakis doubled in succession. A Wieters single and Mora Sac Fly made it 14-5. That brought Pie to the plate and as I always do when I go to the ballpark now that I don’t keep a scorecard, I looked at the scoreboard to see what he’d done so far. I noticed he needed a triple for the cycle.

I looked back at the game.

He tripled.

There have been 317 cycles in MLB history so I was pretty excited to see one. But most of the people around me didn’t seem to realize what they’d just seen because a cycle is unique among the rare MLB moments (and also because they weren’t really paying attention at this point). Many are instantly recognized. A triple play. A walk-off homer. The ones that require the entire game, a no-hitter or four-home run game, are so loud that nobody could fail to notice. But the cycle is different. How would the average fan in the park notice that Pie had a single, double, and home run so far? His most notable at bat of the game was the one where he struck out with the bases loaded. So there was a standing ovation but it wasn’t the whole park.

And then I looked back at the scoreboard. Izturis was next to the plate for the Orioles and if you’ve been reading carefully you know what I saw.

1st inning: Single

3rd inning: Popout

5th inning: Double

7th inning: Triple

I started pointing and yelling at nobody in particular. “Holy S&^%! Izturis needs a home run to do it too!” I’m really not sure anybody heard me or understood what I was saying.

There have never been two cycles in the same game, by teammates or opponents.

I’m not certain but I’m sure, at best, even having a second teammate come to the plate with the chance at a second cycle is exceedingly rare.

I’m absolutely certain this is the only time in baseball history somebody has come to the plate looking to complete the cycle immediately after his teammate has just done so AND they both had previous hits in the same inning.

Izturis tapped out to the first baseman because, you know, 17 home runs in 13 years. But I’d still seen something only done 300+ times in history. And another thing I knew had never happened.

And then when I was staring at the box score tonight while writing this I realized I’d seen one more thing. That young Orioles pitcher making his fourth start that night? He earned his first major league victory on August 14, 2009. His name is Chris Tillman.

Go to a game tonight, or next week, or next month. You never know when you’ll see something you never forget.

Felix Pie stands on third and celebrates his triple with the 3B coach.

Read Full Article

Series Preview: Orioles (58-60) @ Mariners (59-60)

A shot of Safeco Field in Seattle.

After dropping a series in Anaheim before splitting a four-game set versus the Athletics in Oakland, the Orioles will now head to Seattle to take on the Mariners to conclude their three-legged, ten-game tour through the West Coast.

And to say it is a crucial three-game set on the Orioles remaining schedule would be an understatement.

The Orioles (58-60) are just a half a game behind the Rays for third place in the AL East and trail the Angels by only 2.5-games for the second and final wild card spot in the American League. While their 3-4 record so far during the ten-game stint on the West Coast leaves much to be desired, the Orioles have pulled themselves right back into the fight after going 10-6 over their last sixteen contests and 16-11 over their last 27 ballgames.

The Mariners (59-60) have been through a roller coaster of a season as well, but just like the Orioles, they remain right in the thick of the chase for the postseason as we approach the 3/4 mark of the 2017 campaign. The Mariners are just two games out of a wild card spot, and they’ll be looking to close the gap versus the Orioles directly after getting swept by the Angels over the weekend at Safeco Field.

This series will mark the first Orioles-Mariners match-up of the season. The Orioles will be looking for some revenge after going 1-6 versus Seattle in 2016.

Will the Orioles come home in high spirits, or will their hosts send them home singing the blues?

Only time will tell. Let’s go to the starters.

 

Game One

Kevin Gausman (8-8, 5.21 ERA) will get the nod versus Yovani Gallardo (5-7, 5.38 ERA) in the series opener on Monday.

Gausman had an off day, allowing four runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings during his last start versus Anaheim, but he’ll be looking to shake it off and get back to his dominant ways in Seattle. Over his last five starts, Gausman has posted a 3-1 record and a phenomenal 1.64 ERA. Over his last nine contests, the O’s flamethrower owns a 5-1 record and an impressive 3.27 ERA.

Gallardo was tagged during his last start versus Oakland and allowed three runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings. However, Gallardo has been much improved since re-joining the rotation at the start of the second half of the season. Over his last five games (four starts), Gallardo has gone 2-0 with a decent 4.29 ERA.

 

Game Two

The Mariners still have a TBD starter going up against Wade Miley (6-9, 5.19 ERA) on Tuesday.

Miley was incredible during his last start in Oakland and finished off his gem having allowed just a single unearned run on three hits over seven stellar innings. In fact, Miley has been heating up at the perfect time for the Orioles. Over his last three outings, Miley has notched a perfect 2-0 record and an amazing 2.12 ERA. Over two career starts versus Seattle, Miley has gone 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

As if it couldn’t get any worse for the Mariners with future hall-of-famer Felix Hernandez and veteran ace Hisashi Iwakuma already having missed the majority of the 2017 campaign due to injury, they’ve now lost their current staff ace James Paxton (12-3, 2.78 ERA) to a pectoral strain for what will probably be the bulk of the remaining schedule. As a result, the Mariners will run with a patchwork rotation indefinitely. Christian Bergman was called up recently, so he could fill Paxton’s slot in the rotation here.

Update:

 

Game Three

Ubaldo Jimenez (5-7, 6.25 ERA) will take the hill versus Marco Gonzales (0-0, 8.49 ERA) in the series finale on Wednesday.

Jimenez put in another impressive start during his last time out versus Oakland and allowed three runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings while recording a season-high eleven strikeouts, but had to leave the game early after being hit in the lower leg with a comebacker. Thankfully, he’s ready to rock and roll going forward. Over his last four outings, Jimenez has gone 1-1 with a superb 2.62 ERA and 32 strikeouts over 24 innings. In seven career starts versus Seattle, Jimenez has gone 2-3 with a 5.85 ERA.

Gonzales shook off a rough club debut and allowed just a single run on four hits over 4 1/3 innings during his last start against the Angels. Recently acquired from St. Louis, the 25-year-old southpaw will have a golden chance to become a staple in a major league rotation in the Emerald City. The Gonzaga alum was the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 2013 and is still recovering from the Tommy John Surgery that cost him the entire 2016 campaign.

Here’s to flying home on a high note!

Read Full Article

Monday’s O’s Links: Where Have You Gone, “Crush?”

A baseball player breaks his bat over his knee.

Jeremy Hellickson went full Oriole yesterday, going from absolutely cruising (26 pitches in three perfect innings to start the game) to blowing up (five runs in the fourth), denying his team the three-of-four they could have REALLY used in Oakland. Now they head to Seattle, which gives me nightmares, and has ever since Hisashi Iwakuma no-hit us a couple years back, needing two of three to salvage a 5-5 road trip. Not ideal!

Let’s see what’s up in the links.

Rotation Fixes Still Needed for O’s

Our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN guest column, reminds us that the Orioles’ rotation picture is quite murky heading into next season. Pitching isn’t cheap, so if the O’s plan to rebuilding the rotation using free agents, fans should get used to a whole lot more Ubaldo Jimenez clones, even as the original is set to leave town.

Another Fall for Chris Davis

Camden Depot’s Matt Kremnitzer has all the depressing details regarding Chris Davis’ lost season at the dish. It’s not just the staring at third strikes either; even when Davis makes contact, the ol “contact-to-damage ratio,” as Buck likes to call it, is not nearly what it’s been in the past. Yay for that huge contract, right?

Beckham’s Model at Shortstop is J.J. Hardy, the Man He’s Likely to Replace

Tim Beckham has some very astute & flattering things to say about J.J. Hardy. Maybe it’s just politics, but he really sounds as though he has been admiring Hardy’s game for years.

Tim Beckham May be the Orioles’ Spark Plug

As for Beckham’s hot start at the dish, his hitting streak came to an end yesterday. Therefore, Jake Ness of Charm City Sports Network OBVIOUSLY jinxed him with this post, right?

Orioles 2017 All-Prospect Team

The Orioles have prospects…no, really! Perhaps it’s stretching things a bit to construct an entire all-prospect roster, but if you’re looking for some optimism for the future, you could certainly do worse than this piece from Baltimore Sports and Life’s Greg Goldstein, who covers the minors for Baseball Prospectus.

 

Read Full Article

Week in Review: Treading Pacific Water

The Orioles' Tim Beckham.

Just as it seemed as if the Orioles were set to break on through to the other side… another week has passed, and it still hasn’t happened…yet.

But make no mistake about it: these Orioles are geared up for the home stretch, and they’re not going down without a fight.

After taking just one of three in Anaheim, the Orioles bounced back to split the four-game set in Oakland over the weekend. While a 3-4 record over the first seven games of their ten-game swing out on the West Coast could have been better, the Orioles will head to Seattle still very much alive in the wild card chase.

The Orioles’ main dilemma at the moment is that since nobody has ran away with the wild card spot, they’re now locked into a six-horse race for one playoff spot. Not only do they need to keep the notches in the win column coming, they’ll need some help as well.

44 games remain on the schedule, and the promise land is just 2.5-games out of reach. If the bats remain hot, the starters stay in-form and the bullpen remains sturdy, there’s no reason to doubt that these Orioles will at least be right in contention until the fat lady sings.

But this is not the time to look too far ahead into the future.

Next on the calendar is a prime match-up versus another playoff contender, the Seattle Mariners. These head-to-head match-ups against the teams that you’re trying to knock out of the playoff picture always seem to be the toughest of challenges.

The Orioles must find a way to bury their demons on the road this season and come away with a few critical wins if they want to keep banging at the door.

Here’s to returning to Birdland on a high note…

Before we get too carried away, let’s take a look at the O’s West Coast trip so far.

– The  starting rotation has gone through one heck of a turnaround over the last few weeks. After putting in a solid effort in Anaheim and an impressive showing in Oakland, the Orioles starters have posted a stout 3.06 ERA over their last sixteen games and 97 innings of work. Over the past 27 games, the starters own a decent 4.09 ERA over 158 1/3 innings.

– The bullpen wasn’t bulletproof over the weekend versus the A’s, but they have been lately. The Orioles relievers have recorded a rock-solid 3.36 ERA over the last thirty ballgames and a 3.66 ERA over the last seventeen.

– After finishing the series in Oakland with an outstanding .333 average, 26 runs (6.5 per game), six homers and a .341 average with runners in scoring position, it seems as if the Orioles dynamic offense is hitting top-form at exactly the right time.

– Over the last seventeen games, the Orioles are hitting .290 as a unit while scoring 5.3 runs per game (90 total) along with 26 homers and a .336 average with runners in scoring position.

– Over the last 34 contests, the Orioles are hitting .288 at the plate while scoring 5.6 runs per game (191 total) to go with 54 home runs and a .315 batting average with runners in scoring position.

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

 

Third Star

Embed from Getty Images

Manny Machado. From slugging a grand slam in the opening game of the West Coast trip to ending the series in Oakland having gone 7-for-19 (.368) with a home run and four RBI, Machado has been on fire for quite some time now.

Over his last 27 contests, Machado is hitting a sensational .342 at the dish with four home runs and 21 RBI. Over his first thirteen games in August, the Orioles superstar is hitting a ridiculous .351 with ten runs, four doubles, four homers and sixteen RBI.

Second Star

Embed from Getty Images

Dylan Bundy. Not only did Bundy silence the Angels to just two runs on five hits over seven stellar innings, he then followed up by allowing three runs on seven hits over six innings versus the Athletics to pick up his third straight win. Oh, and he racked up ten strikeouts in each of his starts this week. Not common for the O’s!

Over his last three outings, Bundy has gone 3-0 with a stellar 2.14 ERA while racking up 25 strikeouts in 21 innings.

 

First Star

Embed from Getty Images

Tim Beckham. Sure, his twelve-game hit streak came to an end on Sunday…and the negatives stop there. The newest member of the Orioles is having the biggest impact on the team in recent times, and has given new meaning to the phrase “hit the ground running.”

Beckham went 4-for-11 versus the Angels and then followed up by crushing Oakland and finishing the series having gone 8-for-18 at the plate with six runs, three doubles and three RBI.

Over his first thirteen games as an Oriole, Beckham has gone an astronomical 26-for-53 (.491) at the dish with fourteen runs, seven doubles, two triples, three homers and nine RBI.

Read Full Article

#Staturday: Davis’ Numbers Drop, Buck Drops Him Down the Order

Chris Davis watches a pitch go by.

Happy Staturday Birdland! It was another up and down week for the Orioles but fear not, there will be stats!

On Thursday, Trey Mancini launched his 19th and 20th home runs into Oblivion, setting an impressive benchmark for the club:

Trey Mancini joins Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop, and Manny Machado as the four Orioles with 20+ home runs. At four, the Orioles have the most players with 20+ long balls.

Adam Jones continues to mash the long ball, something he’s done for awhile as an Oriole:

Since 2008, Adam Jones leads all center fielders in extra-base hits (526), home runs (242), and RBIs (781).

When the batting order was announced for Friday’s game, there was one noticeable and unfortunate shake-up:

Chris Davis batted 7th on Friday, marking the lowest he’s batted since August of 2014.

For my final stat of the week, we’ll use a new stat: wRC+.  Learn what exactly wRC+ is before checking out the cool Trey stat below:

AL Rookie wRC+ Leaders:

Aaron Judge – 171

Trey Mancini – 127

Mitch Haniger – 118

Check out more stats like these at @BirdlandStats on Twitter!

Read Full Article

“O’s Cap” Dooms Birds to 10 Straight Friday Losses

The Orioles looked to be well on their way to notching their second straight win last night to begin their four-game set in Oakland. The win would have also gotten them back to .500 (again), and made them 3-2 through half of this crucial 10-game west coast swing. Ubaldo Jimenez was dominant, striking out 11 over 5.1 innings (and eight in the first three) before being removed from the game thanks to a line drive to the leg. They were up 4-3 headed to the bottom of the eighth, with Brad Brach and Zach Britton lined up perfectly to close things out.

Only, that didn’t happen. Brach was shelled – he wasn’t the victim of any bloops or bad luck, save for a Chris Davis error on a foul pop-up that could have certainly helped, should the catch have been made – and gave up two before being replaced by Richard Bleier. Now down 5-4, the O’s could muster nothing in the bottom of the ninth, and they lost their sixth of the season when leading after seven.

It was quite a demoralizing loss for O’s fans who stayed up to watch it, as I’d imagine it also was for those fans who went to bed when the team was leading, only to wake up and see the unfortunate result.

However, should we really be surprised that the Birds were able to steal defeat from the jaws of victory on this Friday night? There is, after all, something else going on here….

Wait, that can’t be right, can it?

Let’s have a look at the schedule:

And, Mark speaks the truth! The O’s have indeed lost their last TEN Friday games.

August 11 @ Athletics – Loss 5-4

August 4 vs. Tigers – Loss 5-2

July 28 @ Rangers – Loss 8-2

July 21 vs. Astros – Loss 8-7

July 14 vs. Cubs – Loss 9-8

July 7 @ Twins – Loss 9-6

June 30 vs. Rays – Loss 6-4

June 23 @ Rays – Loss 15-5

June 16 vs. Cardinals – Loss 11-2

June 9 @ Yankees – Loss 8-2.

For the season, the Orioles are 6-13 on Fridays, and 51-46 on all other days of the week.

So, what could be the culprit for this oddity?

In my humble opinion, there is only one thing to blame.

This friggin’ thing:

For my money, the Orioles have the best two caps in baseball in their home and road “cartoon bird” versions. However, every Friday night, they choose, for some inexplicable reason, to wear the above monstrosity, a relic of yesteryear’s awful Baltimore squads, and a logo that is STILL grammatically incorrect.

I get that they want to wear their all-black alternate jerseys on Fridays. I’m all for that! But it looks best with the road version of the cartoon bird cap, NOT with the “O’s” cap nonsense.

Another option is the all-black batting practice version, which they actually wore in one of their Friday WINS this season, on April 14 in Toronto:

Now that’s a good lookin’ uniform! The smiling bird sits atop the black perch like a vulture looking down over the carcasses of the less fortunate, his knowing grin betraying his inner confidence.

It’s time to put an end to the Friday curse.

It’s (well past) time to retire the “O’s” cap, Orioles.

Read Full Article

Thursday Thoughts: West Coast Swing Huge for Birds, Fun for Me

View from the upper deck at the Oakland Coliseum.

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 absolutely love when the Orioles are on the west coast. I know that I’m in the minority on this, because the games start so late for most. But having spent my sixth summer living in Arizona, it’s a two-week treat for me to have games on later in the evening so that I can settle in and watch.

Could you imagine having to watch almost every game starting at 4 p.m. throughout the year? That’s what I live with. While this year’s west coast swing isn’t off to the best start for the Orioles, it remains an absolutely crucial one. The sound you heard following yesterday’s loss to the Angels was the O’s playoff chances shriveling up. Things are getting very dicey, not just because of their record, but because of the clot of teams involved in the mix.

Ironically and importantly, the Angels and Mariners are two of the teams the Birds are chasing in this endeavor and ones they are seeing on this trip. They’ll get another crack at the Halos this month as well.

2. Everyone seems to be making a big deal out of comments Buck Showalter made last week about J.J. Hardy being his starter when he returns from injury. Even though Tim Beckham has been tearing the cover off the ball, what else is the skipper supposed to say? Being loyal to his veteran was the only option for Showalter. Of course he’s going to say that Hardy hasn’t lost his job.

The truth lies somewhere in between that and the fact that Hardy probably will have lost his job by next season. The trade for Beckham at the deadline had purpose. Hardy’s option and the end of the year won’t vest and the O’s will likely buy him out rather than pay him to play for them.

But in the more immediate future no one really knows what will happen at shortstop. Hardy is still weeks away from being back in the majors and by that point, Beckham may be slumping or injuries may create a different scenario altogether.

Showalter is notoriously loyal to his veterans, but this isn’t a case of that. At least not yet.

3. Chris Tillman has been decidedly awful this year. There’s no real other way to put it. From the start of the season when he was injured it just seemed like a bad omen for the rest of the campaign. His recent demotion to the bullpen is a low point. I’m still not convinced he’s 100% healthy, and I don’t think he has been since early last season.

Embed from Getty Images

What’s more is that Tillman is a free agent after this season. His status will be one to watch, as I could easily see the O’s giving him a one-year “make good” deal. It may not be the best way to invest, but there are certainly worse ways as well. Health and velocity are the biggest problems for Tillman, and if he can prove that those can return, he can be an effective MLB starter.

But for a guy who will be entering his age 30 season, the likelihood of that happening becomes smaller and smaller.

4. The Orioles are a team notorious for making trades after the “soft” deadline at the end of July. They’ve made deals in the past for Alejandro De Aza and Michael Morse. After surprising many and buying a few weeks ago rather than selling, I’d expect the O’s to make a similar small move this month.

Whether or not that’s a good idea is a totally different story. These deals don’t normally turn out great, but Joe Saunders was acquired after the deadline in 2012 and that produced some happy memories. De Aza was pretty good as well.

5. After watching the latest great ESPN “30 for 30” documentary “Baltimore Boys” the other night, I felt a lot of emotions for Charm City. There have been a number of great Baltimore/Maryland stories in the series, from “Without Bias” to “The Band That Wouldn’t Die.”

But the one story I want told more than any is that of this generation of Orioles baseball. Basically, from the point that owner Peter Angelos bought the team in 1993 until present day is an incredible tale with so many different tentacles. It may only be of great interest to a Baltimore audience, but it’s still a drama worth telling. The story, of course, is incomplete. It’s still going and has yet to see a real conclusion.

But from winning teams in 1996-1997 to 14 years of losing and then back to competitiveness, tied in with controversy surrounding MASN and the Nationals, there is a lot of story to tell.

I’ll gladly wait another decade or so for it, because it will have my full attention.

Read Full Article

Wednesday’s O’s Links: Because Of Course That Happened

Parker Bridwell of the Orioles holds a baseball near his cap.

The O’s missed out on a golden chance to pick up another game in the Wild Card hunt, because former Bird Parker Bridwell shut them down over seven innings. OF COURSE HE DID.

Who didn’t see that coming?

Let’s see what everybody is saying about Mr. Bridwell & more today.

Among Orioles’ Recent ‘Lost Boys’ Dumping of Bridwell May be Biggest Headscratcher

The O’s let Bridwell go for absolutely nothing, after never even giving him a real shot at the MLB level. Perhaps he isn’t REALLY a 3.00 ERA pitcher, but it sure would have been nice for the Orioles, and not the Angels, to be taking advantage of his early success, wouldn’t it? Dan Connolly of Baltimore Baseball has more.

After Years of Toil, Parker Bridwell Finally Seeing Things Break His Way

The LA Times has a profile on Parker. You have to be happy for the kid, while at the same time being mad at Baltimore’s brass.

Dylan Bundy Has Been Just What the Orioles Needed

Ok, back to pitchers that are actually still with the O’s. Camden Depot’s Matt Kremnitzer breaks down what’s been another solid season so far from Dylan Bundy.

As Machado’s Average Climbs, He’s Now Finding His Power Stroke

Manny went 22 games between home runs, but has raised his average 40+ points in the meantime. Now he’s hitting dingers too. Hopefully his surge can continue and help propel the Birds toward a playoff spot.

Former MLB Pitcher Gregg Olson Happy to be Calling Little League Games

You can hear The Otter on ESPN calling Little League World Series games this week.

Read Full Article

The Rundown: The Return of the Real Manny Machado

Manny Machado trots around the bases.

After being swept by the Chicago Cubs to start the second half of the season, the Orioles have rattled off 14 wins in their last 21 games to bring them back to .500. That result has put them firmly back in the playoff race as they are only 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card. After much debate on if this team should sell, it’s pretty amazing that we have once again entered August with the Orioles playing meaningful baseball games.

The Real Manny Has Returned

We can chalk this one up to one of the easiest breakdowns of a struggling player. Manny Machado was hitting into some bad luck and despite his low average, he was consistently near the top of the leaderboard in exit velocity. However, if you watched Machado on a daily basis you knew that he became way too pull happy and was trying to hit everything for a home run.

Machado’s approach changed in the month of July as he began to use all fields and stopped trying to hit a homer every at bat. The result has been the return of the hitter we have seen over the last couple of seasons that made him one of the best young hitters in baseball. We may never know why Machado entered the year with a different mindset and why he finally decided to go back to what he does best, but at least it has happened during the season and not this winter.

The least surprising development in all of this is that Machado can still hit the ball over the fence even when he isn’t trying to.

 

Bundy’s Special Night

The Orioles have maintained throughout the season that they have stuck to the plan that they laid out in the spring for handling Dylan Bundy’s workload. I’m still curious to see how this will end as Bundy is on pace to throw close to 200 innings after throwing under 110 in 2016.

After allowing seven earned runs to the Houston Astros on July 23rd, Bundy didn’t pitch again until August 1st and the results were extremely encouraging as he threw an eight-inning gem against the Kansas City Royals. Bundy didn’t get as much rest between starts this time around, but it was still five days and he once again was special as he struck out 10 in seven innings.

The Orioles don’t have an off-day until August 17th so Bundy will pitch on normal rest in his next scheduled start and it will be interesting to see how he responds. This will continue to be one of the top storylines over the next two months as the team tries to make the postseason and not overwork their young ace.

 

Down on the Farm

The Bowie Baysox are in first place and they are loaded with multiple hitters who will hopefully end up making the big leagues for the Orioles.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Rule Five pick Anthony Santander has to be added to the 25-man roster over the next couple of weeks as he ends his rehab assignment. Through nine games, the outfielder is batting .393 with two home runs and five doubles.

Fellow outfielders Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins continue to hit and will be serious contenders to make the big-league team next spring.

Ryan Mountcastle has struggled since being promoted to Double-A and moving to third base as he is currently batting .172 with 13 strikeouts in his first 15 games. The youngster hasn’t struggled offensively in his career so it’s good to see him go through some growing pains to see how he responds.

However, I wanted to highlight 2015 first-round draft pick D.J. Stewart. The 23-year-old has been on a nice streak recently as he has collected seven hits in his last five games with two home runs including a grand slam. For the season, Stewart is batting .266 with 15 home runs, 64 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and 45 walks. There’s an outside shot that the outfielder finishes the season with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases which would be a nice accomplishment. The defense was always a question mark for Stewart, but he was drafted because he could hit and it’s starting to translate for the youngster.

Read Full Article

Monday’s O’s Links: Get Those Coffeemakers Ready

Manny Machado and Mike Trout sie-by-side.

After Friday night, it looked like the Orioles were really going to make last week a complete mirror image of the 2014 postseason – instead of sweeping Detroit in three then getting swept in four by Kansas City, they were going to sweep KC for three, then get swept by the Tigers over four straight. Fortunately, they righted the ship and managed a split with Detroit to put the finishing touches on a very nice 5-2 homestand.

Now comes the dreaded West Coast trip. Get the coffeemakers ready, Birdland. We’ve got a whole lotta late nights coming up.

Outside of Machado, O’s Have Another Looming Free Agency Issue

Manny isn’t the only important Oriole whose contract is up after next season. Our own Andrew Stetka, writing in his weekly MASN guest column brings up another guy who the O’s should be approaching about signing a new deal sooner rather than later.

The Future of Zach Britton

Zach looks to be back, or at least more “back” than he was fresh off the DL. Joe Wantz of Camden Depot tries to peer into the future to try to figure out what the Birds’ options are for number 53.

Chris Tillman Vows to use Time in ‘Pen to “Get Better”

Well, he certainly can’t get worse, amirite? Seriously though, would you feel comfortable seeing Tilly come in for anything other than mop-up duty? It’s a sad state of affairs in Tillmanville, for sure.

Struggling Veterans Present O’s with Tough Choices

Speaking of Tilly, he is one of two very high-profile expensive veterans who are struggling and/or hurt, which will lead to some tough decisions here very soon. What will the future hold for Tillman and J.J. Hardy? Camden Chat’s Mark Brown lays it out.

Caleb Joseph’s Bounce-back Year Looks More Like a Breakout Year

This story is a couple weeks old, but I missed it when it was first posted by Jacob Meyer over on BSL, so you’ll have to forgive me. Caleb has just kept on hittin’ in the meantime, so everything Jacob wrote still holds up. Not just hitting, of course – stealing strikes, of which Orioles pitchers could always use more.

Read Full Article

#Staturday: Tim Beckham Makes a Great First Impression

Tim Beckham and Jonathan Schoop high five.

Happy Staturday Birdland! After a not-so-wild trade deadline, the Orioles started winning again. It was fun and it produced some stats. Let’s get to em!

Before the deadline, the Orioles traded with the Tampa Bay Rays for Tim Beckham and he’s had a flaming hot start:

Tim Beckham recorded 10 hits in his first 15 at-bats.

After going 4-4 on Friday, Tim Beckham has 7 straight hits in as many at-bats.

Beckham has started his Orioles’ career with four straight multi-hit games, the most of any Oriole in 2017.

As the Orioles continue hitting the long ball, they approach an historic franchise mark:

On Friday, Manny hit the 9,997th home run in Orioles’ team history. They’re three away from 10,000.

If you were watching Thursday night’s game, you may have noticed a pretty epic play that started at the hot corner:

The Manny-Schoop-Davis triple play on Thursday was the second Orioles’ triple play in Camden Yards history.

For more stats like these, follow @BirdlandStats on Twitter.

Read Full Article

Friday’s O’s Links: Congrats to Nick Markakis!

player after just hitting pitch during baseball game

So far, this week is turning out like a mirror image of the 2014 postseason. Hopefully the Birds can turn the tide and pick up at least two (preferably three) games against Detroit this weekend, to cap off what would have been quite a successful homestand before heading off on the dreaded west coast trip.

Let’s see what everybody is saying about our O’s.

Orioles Take the Road to 2018

The Orioles, in doing what they did at the trade deadline, laid bare not only their intentions to keep trying to contend in 2017, but to try again in 2018 as well. Camden Depot’s head honcho Jon Shephard goes through the positions in a sort of state-of-the-Birds post.

Thoughts on the Trade Deadline and the Future

Want more on both the deadline and what comes next? BSL’s Rob Shields has you covered.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 211: Deadline Drama

On Monday, Jake was kind enough to let me sit in for Scott (who was with his wife as she gave birth to their third child – congrats, Magnesses!). We talked about the moves the O’s did – and didn’t make – played some fantasy boss, and of course blew the save. Give a listen, would ya?

Joey Rickard a Surprise Inclusion Among Game’s Top Outfielders

Joey’s defense has been much improved this season, and the Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli has the advanced stats to back it up.

Nick Markakis Hits 2000th Career Hit

Congrats to Nick the Stick!

Read Full Article

Series Preview: Orioles (53-54) vs. Tigers (49-57)

Kevin Gausman & Justin Verlander side-by-side pitching photos.

After making their intentions known with an amazing three-game sweep of the red-hot Royals, the Orioles will look to keep the good times rolling over a four-game set against the Detroit Tigers before hitting the West Coast.

Just like that, folks. These Orioles are making a lot of noise outside, and thanks to a five-game winning tear, they’re about to start banging on the door. If they can stay in top form, they’ll be more like unwelcome guests that arrived just in time to crash the party.

No team in the AL likes to play these guys when they’ve hit “Bull in a China Shop” mode.

Due to their current hot streak, the Orioles (53-54) are just two games behind the Rays for third place in the division and have cut the deficit in the wild card hunt from 5.5-games to just 2.5-games. On top of their current winning tear, they’ve now posted a 7-3 mark over their last ten games and an impressive 11-5 record over their last sixteen. In case you needed a reminder, the Orioles are very much alive and well as we prepare to hit the home stretch. 55 games remain on the schedule, and the Orioles train is just now beginning to pick up steam. We should be in for quite a ride.

The Tigers (49-57) trail the first-place Cleveland Indians by 8.5-games in the AL Central, but they’ve also been playing solid baseball lately. The current visitors have won four of their last five games which includes a series win versus the Yankees in the Bronx. They’ve now gone an impressive 7-4 over their last eleven games on the road and have posted a 10-9 mark in the second half of the season so far.

The Orioles dropped two of three in the first meeting of the season versus the Tigers in Detroit back in May, so they’ll be looking to avoid the same type of slip-up in front of their own fans at Camden Yards over the latter part of the week. Since the start of the 2015 season, the Orioles have gone 10-7 versus their current visitors.

Will the Orioles keep the good vibes flowing through the weekend, or will they begin their ten-game stay on the West Coast feeling blue?

Surely, this is a match-up that is tilted in the Orioles favor…But nothing is for certain.

 

Game One

Chris Tillman (1-6, 7.65 ERA) will take the mound versus Matthew Boyd (5-5, 5.30 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Tillman was rocked by the Rangers during his last time out and allowed eight runs on nine hits over just 4 1/3 innings, so he’ll be looking to erase that painful memory going into this one. His latest implosion came as a bit of a surprise as he had posted a rock-solid 3.31 ERA over his previous three starts. Tillman will also be looking to continue his dominance over the Tigers, as he owns a perfect 6-0 record along with an amazing 2.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and .186 BAA over nine career starts versus Detroit.

Boyd turned in a positive outing versus Houston and allowed just three runs on eight hits over 7 1/3 innings. He’s now won three straight starts while recording a 4.19 ERA in the process. He’ll be making his second career start versus the Orioles in this match-up.

 

Game Two

Kevin Gausman (8-7, 5.37 ERA) will take on Justin Verlander (6-7, 4.29 ERA) in Friday night’s contest.

Gausman put in a dazzling effort during his last start versus Texas and allowed just seven hits over 8 2/3 shutout innings. As a result, the white-hot Gausman continued his sensational run of form that includes a 3-0 record and a miniscule 0.44 ERA over his last three outings and an immaculate 5-0 record to go along with an impressive 3.15 ERA over his past seven contests. Over five career starts versus Detroit, Gausman has gone 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA.

Verlander turned in a vintage performance during his last start versus Boston and allowing just five hits over six shutout innings. He’s also been back to his best as of late with a stellar 2.25 ERA over his last three outings. Over eighteen career contests versus the Orioles, the future Hall-of-Famer has posted a 9-5 record and a 3.77 ERA.

 

Game Three

Wade Miley (5-9, 5.60 ERA) will get the nod against Michael Fulmer (10-9, 3.59 ERA) on Saturday night.

At last, Miley finally turned in a solid performance during his last outing in Texas and held the Rangers to just two runs on six hits over five innings in a winning effort. He had recorded a 9.77 ERA over his previous three contests and finished the month of July with an 8.68 ERA over six starts, so maybe it’s a sign that he’s turning the corner? We can only hope.

Fulmer was tagged to the tune of allowing six runs on seven hits over six innings during his last contest versus the Yankees. Also, the Tigers young ace has seen his form fall off of a cliff during his last three starts as he owns an 0-3 record and a 7.56 ERA during that span. Over three career starts versus Baltimore, Fulmer has gone 1-0 with a 4.42 ERA.

 

Game Four

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-7, 6.56 ERA) will take the hill against Anibal Sanchez (3-1, 5.83 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Jimenez was magnificent during his last start versus the Royals and finished his gem having allowed just a single run on five hits over seven stellar innings. Don’t look now, but Jimenez has recorded a remarkable 2.08 ERA over his last two starts and thirteen innings of work. Over twenty-two career starts versus Detroit, Jimenez owns a 6-12 record and a 5.63 ERA.

Sanchez has gone through a nightmare of an injury-hit campaign, but managed to hold the Yankees to just two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings during his last start and has won two of his last three contests. Over five career starts versus Baltimore, Sanchez has notched a 2-2 record and a 5.28 ERA.

Read Full Article

Thursday Thoughts: Strong Starts for New Orioles

Tim Beckham and Jonathan Schoop of the Orioles high five each other.

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’m not entirely sure what to make of the Orioles right now. They’ve won five straight by getting good pitching and strong offense. The O’s just shut down one of the hottest teams in baseball.

And yet, I still don’t really buy it all. Call me crazy, I know, but the past week has been a whirlwind and I’m not ready to say these Birds are ready for a run. Maybe I’m just not prepared to be sucked back in and hurt again.

It’s not that I’m rooting against the Orioles. I love what they are doing right now. Winning should always be the goal.

The Orioles still have a long road ahead if they want to sniff the postseason. They are still in the muddled mess that is the AL Wild Card chase, which includes the Royals team they just swept out of Camden Yards.

But hey, while we’re at it, why not just step back and realize that it’s early August and the O’s are only 5.5 games out of the division lead?

Embed from Getty Images

2. My jaw hit the floor last week when the Orioles made a strange trade for Jeremy Hellickson. It was also on the ground last night when the veteran tossed seven scoreless innings in his O’s debut, helping them sweep the Royals.

Like the Orioles’ winning ways, I also don’t really expect this to continue. But it’s still nice to see Hellickson make a strong debut.

Right now my mind is so clouded by winning, all I can picture is Dan Duquette coming out of the warehouse wearing a red trucker hat that doesn’t say “Make The Orioles Great Again,” but instead, “I Told You So.”

Settle down, Dan. It’s only been one start for Hellickson.

What baffles me is that Hellickson is just the type of pitcher the Orioles would sign this offseason to re-stock their rotation.

Don’t be surprised if this happens and don’t be surprised if he costs something right around what Ubaldo Jimenez cost four years ago. That’s the type of market the O’s dance in when it comes to starting pitching.

3. The Orioles made another strange move this week, but looking back, it wasn’t nearly as strange as it seemed at first.

Acquiring Tim Beckham from the Rays actually makes a lot of sense when looking at the long-term, as well as the short-term.

In my eyes, Beckham is J.J. Hardy’s replacement next season. At least he’s getting the next two months to audition for the role. Hardy is still expected to return at some point this year, but I think Beckham will get the chance to prove he can be the guy, or at least one of the guys, going forward.

Everyone knows Hardy’s contract situation makes it virtually certain that this is his last season in Baltimore. There’s a reason Beckham was the top overall pick in 2008. He’s obviously got some talent. It hasn’t quite panned out the way he maybe wishes, but at 27, there’s certainly still tread on the tires.

Obviously it’s going to take more than a few days or weeks to evaluate the trades for both Beckham and Hellickson, but they are at least off to nice starts. I’m on board to enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.

4. The underlying issue that wasn’t discussed as much as it maybe should’ve been over the last week or two leading up to the trade deadline is the future of Dan Duquette. Absolutely no one, including Duquette himself, really knows what the future holds for him in his current role.

I can’t imagine it’s easy to allow him to make trades and continue to build this team for a future that there’s no guarantee he’ll be a part of.

To me, players and construction of the roster aren’t the only big question mark entering the offseason. The future of Duquette is supremely important entering 2018, along with that of manager Buck Showalter.

Aside from recent winning ways, the Orioles still appear to be a rudderless ship without a true direction. That has to change as soon as possible.

Read Full Article

The Rundown: O’s Were Wise to Not Settle for Sub-Par Britton Return

Buck Showalter stands with his hands on his hips.

The Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone and the Orioles did what most fans feared: they didn’t sell off their top trade chips. It remains to be seen if this line of thinking will backfire for years to come.

O’s Were “Buyers” at the Deadline

It’s hard for me to call the O’s buyers at the deadline when they acquired players like Jeremy Hellickson and Tim Beckham, but since they added and didn’t trade away any top talent, we must classify them as such.

There have already been reports that ownership nixed a couple of trades due to medical reasons and not everyone is on the same page. This shouldn’t be surprising and it’s just par for the course when dealing with this organization. Dan Duquette has made his share of mistakes, but he’s still working with one hand tied behind his back due to the way Peter Angelos and company operate. We have debated their philosophy when it comes to international spending at length, but that’s an ownership decision so Duquette is trying to make the best of a terrible and very short-sighted situation.

The real question is, what type of talent were the Orioles actually getting back in return for Zach Britton? We may never know, but as I have written before, their asking price should have been close to the level the Yankees received for Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller last year. If they weren’t able to get that kind of return, it’s wise to try again in the off-season or this point next year if the team is once again in this position.

Jon Paul Morosi was on MLB Network and said the Orioles were asking for one of the Houston Astros’ top outfield prospects in Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher. Good, they should have. The Astros didn’t want to do that so the Orioles said no. That’s exactly what should have happened. The O’s didn’t need to settle and unless we find out otherwise later on, it appears they did not settle.

 

Final Two Months

The Orioles concluded the month of July with a 12-14 record, their third straight month finishing under .500. If we want to look at the positive, they have won nine of their last 14 games. It’s going to be an uphill battle to get back into the mix of playoffs, but it’s encouraging to see Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop continue to hit and Manny Machado and Kevin Gausman turn their seasons around.

The team’s handling of Dylan Bundy over the next couple of months will be interesting and probably one of the bigger reasons for the acquisition of Hellickson. Duquette has proven willing and able to make moves in the month of August so if things go sour quick, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Seth Smith and Welington Castillo moved. It was apparent that teams were looking for pitching at the deadline so position players weren’t exactly in demand across the league. All it takes is one injury for that to change and with Smith and Castillo not part of the long-term plans, I’m sure the O’s would like to get something for those two.

In the end, we have seen this core group play at an extremely high level.

After yesterday, the message is pretty clear: the players are the ones who have to turn this around.

Read Full Article

Orioles Acquire Tim Beckham from Rays

Tim Beckham of the Rays gives a high five.

The 4:00 PM deadline came and went, and O’s fans accepted the fact that Zach Britton, as well as lesser pieces like Welington Castillo, Seth Smith, and Brad Brach, were all staying put, and no haul of prospects would be coming to Baltimore.

We were ready to move on, though most found themselves cursing Dan Duquette’s (or Peter Angelos’, depending on where you prefer to place your blame) name.

But then, at about 4:09, something hit our Twitter timelines. The Orioles had, in fact, made a move!

Who was on the way out? Which contender finally gave in and offered up something that the O’s could use to help rebuild a decimated farm system? What elite prospects could we get finally get excited about?

Wait, what?

Beckham? As in, Tim Beckham?

Former number one overall (2008) draft pick Tim Beckham?

Why? How? Say huh?

So uh…what did we give up?

Cool, I suppose?

Let’s talk about Beckham first.

He’s 27 years old, and the owner of a career .247/.299/.421 slash line. In 87 games this year, he’s at .259/.314/.407, with five home runs (two of which he hit in the same game off of Dylan Bundy earlier this season).

The upshot is that he’s under team control through 2020. With J.J. Hardy very likely being gone after this year, this saves the team from having to find their shortstop of the future.

Beckham doesn’t look like the kind of guy who will ever live up to his draft status, but he could help solidify the Birds’ infield for a few years, while contributing here and there with the bat.

Or maybe he’s more of a Ryan Flaherty/utility-type replacement and they have other plans for shortstop. Who knows?

Oh, and of COURSE he strikes out a lot (32% of the time this year), so he’ll fit right in in that regard.

Not a bad acquisition, but it seems odd that THIS was the team’s priority today.

As for Tobias Myers, he was the O’s 6th round pick in 2016. He’s 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in 29.2 IP for Aberdeen this year. You can probably bank on the Rays turning him into a productive Major League pitcher, because that’s what they do. He doesn’t turn 19 until later this week though, so that headache is at least a handful of years away.

Read Full Article

Series Preview: Orioles (50-54) vs. Royals (55-48)

Dylan Bundy finishes his pitching motion.

After rallying last weekend in Arlington to keep their playoff aspirations alive, the Orioles will now look to keep the positive energy flowing during their upcoming three-game set versus the holders of the second wild card spot in the AL, the Kansas City Royals. For a team that is trying to claw their way back into a playoff spot, they can’t afford to go backwards against the club that they are currently trying to track down.

The Orioles’ upcoming seven-game home stand will be their biggest home stand of the season to date, as they simply can’t afford to tread water any longer. If they want to really make a challenge in the wild card hunt, they’ll need to lay it all on the line and start stringing results together. There’s still plenty of time to launch themselves up the wild card standings, but the clock is indeed ticking.

Simply put, it’s time to put up or shut up. And the only way to do that is to go on a winning streak.

The Orioles (50-54) still find themselves in fourth place in the division and 6.5-games off the pace of the division-leading Yankees, but are just three games behind the third-place Rays and a very attainable 5.5-games behind the Royals for the second and final wild card slot. The O’s have recorded an impressive 30-21 mark in the friendly confines of Camden Yards on the year and have turned things around as of late with an 8-5 record over their last thirteen contests. However, their recent feel-good vibes will be put to the test against another Midwest foe-and the Orioles have gone just 8-16 versus the AL Central this season.

The Royals (55-48) have been on a red-hot tear recently, and after going 10-1 over their last eleven games, Kansas City is now just two games behind the first-place Indians in the AL Central. They’ve also upped their lead over the Tampa Bay Rays to 2.5-games for the final wild card spot. After reeling off a sensational nine-game win streak which just came to a halt last Saturday versus the Red Sox, the O’s will need to bring their “A game” to slow these guys down.

Easier said than done. The Royals swept the Orioles (Not for the first time) over a three-game set in KC back in May and as a result, the Royals now own a 21-13 advantage over the Orioles since the start of the 2013 season.

Will the Orioles stay alive before the Detroit rolls into town, or will the red-hot Royals land a critical blow to the Orioles playoff hopes?

Let’s take a look at the starters.

 

Game One

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-7, 6.93 ERA) will take the mound versus Danny Duffy (7-6, 3.56 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Jimenez turned in an excellent performance during his last start in Tampa and finished his start having allowed just two runs on three hits over six innings. Alas, his lack of run support and a lethal two-run bomb by Evan Longoria put him in the loss column. Over his last five outings, Jimenez has recorded a 1-4 record and an 8.28 ERA. He’s also gone just 1-2 with an 8.42 ERA over seven starts at Camden Yards this season.

Duffy stayed in top form during his last start versus Detroit and allowed just a single run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. The Royals southpaw has gone 2-1 with an excellent 2.75 ERA over his last three outings and 18 2/3 combined innings. Over eight career contests (six starts) versus the Orioles, Duffy has been lights out. He owns a 2-2 record to go along with a stellar 2.41 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .207 BAA lifetime versus Baltimore.

 

Game Two

Dylan Bundy (9-8, 4.53 ERA) will get the nod versus Ian Kennedy (4-6, 4.43 ERA) in Tuesday night’s contest.

Bundy was tagged to the tune of seven runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings versus Houston the last time he took the mound, and his recent struggles have been a major cause for concern. Over his last six starts, Bundy owns a 2-3 record and a 7.96 ERA. Over his last nine outings, he’s gone 3-5 with a 6.99 ERA. He’ll be looking to turn it around during his upcoming second career start versus the Royals.

Kennedy was dominant during his last time out versus the Tigers and allowed just a single run on three hits over six innings. Kennedy has bounced back into form this month and owns a clean 2-0 record and a rock-solid 3.68 ERA over five starts in July. He’s also been impressive away from Kauffman Stadium this season with a 4-2 record and a 3.97 ERA over ten starts on the road.

 

Game Three

The Orioles list the starter as TBD for the series finale versus Jason Vargas (13-4, 3.00 ERA) on Sunday.

The speculation surrounding this is that the newly acquired Jeremy Hellickson could make his Orioles debut during this match-up, but stay tuned.

Vargas finally snapped back into top form during his last start versus Boston and allowed just one run on five hits over six innings. However, after rolling through the first three months of the season with a remarkable 12-3 record and a superb 2.22 ERA over sixteen starts, Vargas has struggled this month and owns a 7.23 ERA through four starts in July. Rest assured, Vargas still owns the Orioles. Over eight career starts versus Baltimore, Vargas has gone 2-3 despite boasting a sensational 1.94 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and .224 BAA against them.

That’s it for now, Birdland!

Enjoy the series!

Read Full Article