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.
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.