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A Tale of Two Series for O’s Starting Pitching

Dean Kremer
photo: Baltimore Orioles (
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What an interesting week of baseball for the Orioles. They ended up going 3-3 while being competitive with one of the best teams in baseball. It was an up-and-down week. However, it almost felt like two different teams took the field this week.

While the Braves series was disappointing, competing with them shows that this team is good and won’t go away.

So here are five reactions to the Royals and Braves series of the past week…

A Tale of Two Series for the Pitching

If someone came up and told an Orioles fan that the pitching would struggle in one series and succeed in another, 10/10 people would choose the Royals series as the one where they produced and the Braves where they struggled.

Isn’t baseball weird like that? In actuality, it was the reverse, as the pitching struggled against KC but held firm against Atlanta. The starters gave up sixteen runs in Kansas City, then just five in Atlanta.

How did this happen? The Braves might have the best lineup in the league, yet the starters held it down. What helped the starters in Atlanta is that they pitched out of a ton of jams and got double plays when they needed them. The Royals series was different. In the first game, Tyler Wells gave up four runs, but most were in the first inning. Kyle Gibson had a weird start where he gave up six runs but wasn’t pitching all that bad, then had a blow-up inning. However, Grayson Rodriguez was terrible against the Royals and hurt the team. Not only did he give up six runs in 3.2 Innings, but he caused the bullpen to be gassed.

Now, they got saved on Friday night, but the Orioles couldn’t pitch Yennier Cano or Felix Bautista on Saturday because Cano had to go two innings, and Bautista threw over 30 pitches the day before. This came back to hurt them as they had to go into a tight situation with Danny Coloumbe, and he gave up a big home run to Kevin Pillar that cost the Orioles a crucial game two.

If Grayson had performed on Wednesday, they might have won the series in Atlanta.

It was just a weird week for the starters.

Tony Taters is Cooking

While the offense had a couple of great games this week, none of that would have been possible without Anthony Santander. Tony has been slowly improving since his bad start and was bound for a week like this, but it was glorious. He batted .444/.483/.852 with three home runs, two doubles, and an OPS of 1.335. He turned it up, though, for the Braves series. He had two home runs including a grand slam in the first game, followed that up with two more doubles in the second, and had a game-tying hit in Sunday’s game.

While the offense was pretty good this week (outside of being unable to hit with RISP), Santander made the engine go.

Is Austin Voth…Good?

Can’t believe this is even a segment in one of these articles. Austin Voth’s terrible start is overshadowing that he has been one of the more reliable arms for Brandon Hyde these last couple of weeks. In his last 9.2 innings, he has allowed three hits and one run, walked three and struck out ten.

How did this happen? The simple answer is that Voth has found his breaking pitch. That pitch was why the Orioles gave him a chance last year, and he has found it over the last ten innings. With the bullpen being overworked, Voth’s improvement has been critical.

Tough Bullpen Decisions Getting Easier

As Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate continue to get rehab starts at Double-A Bowie, a decision will need to be made on who goes in the Birds’ bullpen. While many fans have wanted guys like Voth and Cionel Perez to go, the decision on who goes is becoming clearer by the day. Keegan Akin and Mike Baumann did themselves no favors over this past week. Baumann has given up six runs and two home runs in his last three outings. While he did have a good day on Sunday, it just hasn’t been enough, and if you want to stay in the bullpen, you have to be near flawless, especially when you have Minor League options. Akin has stunk this year as well, and he still has options remaining.

That is what it comes down to: who has been shaky and who has options. As much as O’s fans want it, they aren’t going to risk putting Perez through waivers, and Voth has been steady enough these last couple of appearances that he has saved himself as well.

Baumann and Akin now look like the obvious choices to go down when Givens and Tate are ready.

Is it time to call up the Kids?

It’s time for a bit of a hot take. While the Offense was good this week, it was very inconsistent. Though they did put up some big numbers, they scuffled in the last game of the series, going just 1-for-16 with RISP. Good teams don’t do that, and it was the main reason they lost on Sunday.

Another reason why they lost was because of Austin Hays. Hays made his first start in five days, as he is nursing some kind of injury, and the team doesn’t want to put him on the IL, but he cost the Birds a game on Sunday. In extra innings, he was the runner on second and got way too cute and tried to tag up on Ronald Acuna and got thrown out. There is no excusing that mistake; testing the best arm in the majors in a tight game when the offense is struggling is just playing to lose; it isn’t smart baseball. Aside from that, Hays has just been meh with his bat and has been terrible in left field again. The only thing he does bring is his throwing arm, but is that all that valuable when you make boneheaded mistakes on the basepaths and aren’t producing because of injuries for the fourth year in a row?

This offense needs some consistency, and the Orioles can find it in the Minors. Colton Cowser, at this point, should become the everyday left fielder. He can handle centerfield, but with Walltimore, he is the perfect option in left. Cowser has been on fire lately in Triple-A, and he should be on the Orioles soon if this offense and Hays continue to struggle. The O’s need a bat, and Cowser is the perfect prospect for that. He fits in better than someone like Joey Ortiz or Jordan Westburg because he can handle the left field dimensions and be an upgrade over Hays.

The schedule isn’t going to get any easier. The year’s most anticipated series starts this week as the Orioles finally get the best team in baseball, the Rays. After this, they have a series against the struggling Pirates. Both series are going to be exciting, so if you have the time to watch or go to these games, I encourage you to do so, because the 2023 Orioles are a fun team.

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