Everyone knew the month of April would be a huge test for the Orioles, but through five games, the O’s are failing that test miserably. The starting rotation has struggled, the lineup looked lackluster until Tuesday night and the bullpen has imploded twice.
This is only the second series of the season, but everything has looked eerily familiar to what happened on a consistent basis in 2017.
The Davis Leadoff Experiment
Most O’s fans felt pretty confident that this experiment would fail, and so far, it has. I think even Buck Showalter knew this would fail. Watching the O’s over the last few seasons, we have grown accustomed to not having a prototypical leadoff hitter. However, the difference between Chris Davis and the previous leadoff hitters like Nick Markakis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones? Those guys can actually hit the ball.
I never cared about Davis’ strikeouts, mainly because he was hitting the ball over the fence. Last year was an eye opener as he just never swung the bat. News flash, a player can’t produce if they aren’t swinging the bat.
This year though, something seems different. Again, we’re only five games in and we have seen Davis struggle for months at a time, even in seasons that he has produced at a high rate.
So far? Davis has a hard-hit percentage of only 20 percent, which is utility hitter level. It should come as no surprise then that his ground ball percentage is 46.7 percent.
Davis has cut down the strikeouts so far – even with his four strikeouts on Tuesday night, he has a 21.7 strikeout percentage, which is way down from his career mark of 31.9. Unfortunately, this seeming change in approach has also led to Davis not driving the ball, which has resulted in a lot of weak contact and ground balls into the shift.
Davis needs to get out of his own head. Putting him in the leadoff spot doesn’t seem to be working. I have no idea what will.
Someone needs to remind Davis that he can be one of the top power hitters in baseball if he just lets it fly. Swing for the fences, don’t worry about the shift, don’t worry about the strikeouts, just focus on hitting the ball over the fence.
Every other approach hasn’t worked, so now it’s time to go back to the approach that earned him the largest contract in Orioles history.
GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld
The Rule V Experiments
Unfortunately, you can’t be considered a true contender when you have three Rule V players on your roster. Even though Anthony Santander is considered a Rule V player, at least he was in the big leagues last year and has a lot of game experience. The same can’t be said for Pedro Araujo and Nestor Cortes. The two youngsters were asked to get critical outs Tuesday night against the World Champs, and the results were predictable.
If there is one thing we have learned from Showalter over the years, it’s that he usually won’t turn to his elite relievers if the game is tied or the O’s are trailing. However, in his defense, he did go to Mychal Givens earlier than he probably wanted to and was going to ask the righty to pitch two innings. Givens was unable to hold the lead which led Showalter to use Araujo and Cortes instead of possibly asking Darren O’Day to keep the game tied.
One of these pitchers will more than likely be cut when Alex Cobb returns – which needs to happen. The Orioles need more depth in the bullpen and Tuesday night proved they are lacking in that department.