The disappointing end to the season continued on Monday night for the Orioles, with Dylan Bundy being the latest pitcher to struggle. At this point, the organization should seriously consider shutting Bundy down for the remainder of the season. The 24-year-old has proven that he can be counted on to be a rock steady starter for the 2018 season and has stayed healthy this year. These were two important question marks heading into this season.
The future is bright for the right-hander, but his fastball velocity was the lowest it has been since June 19th according to FanGraphs.com, and he has almost pitched as many innings this season as the last three years combined. If the team was still fighting for October it would make sense to push it, but at this point, let Bundy shut it down and get ready to lead the rotation when spring training begins.
Future of the Rotation
When the last out is recorded until the start of spring training, the top storyline for the Orioles will be the starting rotation. The pitching this season was unacceptable and it cannot be status quo heading into 2018. The organization has been able to get away with below average starting pitching the last few seasons due to a shutdown bullpen, but it backfired in a big way this year.
As of now, Bundy and Kevin Gausman are the only locks – a lot of teams would sign up for to have those two talents lead a rotation. Miguel Castro appears to be a favorite to win a spot, and despite tiring late in the season, he has the pitching repertoire to be a starter. However, he has never thrown 100 innings in a season in his professional career. If he is getting tired now as a reliever, how will he feel as a starter in September after pitching over 150 innings?
A wild card would be top pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, but again, he will be working under a strict innings limit.
The answer is clearly through free agency, but as history suggests, the O’s will be reluctant to do that. That needs to change. They will free up a lot of money this off-season with Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley, Chris Tillman, J.J. Hardy, Welington Castillo and Seth Smith all hitting free agency. If we add in the fact that there will be many players still on rookie contracts, the money will be there to address the starting staff.
Even if the return won’t be great – and the chances of eating some of the contract is close to a lock – the Orioles should seriously consider trading Mark Trumbo. The roster flexibility and the potential of salary relief would go a long way in shaping a better team in 2018.
Next season is the last ride of what we have grown accustomed to over the last handful of years and Dan Duquette and company need to do everything they can to ensure they are not a team with a losing record in late September yet again.
Hays Is a Breath of Fresh Air
The one characteristic that I have always admired about Adam Jones is that no matter how banged up he is, no matter what the score is and no matter how many years he has been in the league with all of his accomplishments, he will still run hard on every ground ball.
We know Manny Machado does not do that. Even Chris Davis with all of his issues at the plate will run out ground balls. Austin Hays‘ reputation in the minors was being like Jones and Davis, and so far that’s exactly what we have seen in his short time in the big leagues.
On their recent trip to Toronto, there were a number of instances where the Blue Jays put pressure on the Orioles and it paid off with them being able to get an extra base. That has never been the case with this team, but hopefully that will change next season with Hays in the lineup.
The offense for next year is pretty much set already with the expectation of Hays playing right field and Chance Sisco taking over at catcher. The added speed of Tim Beckham at the trade deadline at the top of the lineup and now Hays at the bottom of the lineup should give this team a different dynamic in 2018.