Bird Feed

Tuesday’s O’s Links: Runs…How Do They Work?

Manny Machado asks "what's up?"

After a road trip that was, unfortunately, successful by their standards at 4-7, the Birds returned home on Memorial Day and got smoked by the Washington Nationals in the first of a three-game set. The Orioles just can’t seem to score like…any runs (scoreless in 17 straight innings), which is a problem for a major league baseball team. Reportedly, that’s what the Baltimore Orioles are. Opinions vary.

To the links, I guess.

There are Still Some Positives for the Very Bad Orioles

Let’s do our best to stave off the depression for another moment or two, shall we? Camden Depot’s Matt Kremnitzer turns over every boulder, stone, and pebble to try to find anything on the plus side of the ledger for the 2018 O’s.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 239: MemOriole Daze

You thought Jake and Scott would take the holiday off? Ha! Unlike the Orioles’ bats, these guys actually show up when we expect them to.

Richard Bleier’s Brilliance is Unique (And Under the Radar)

David Laurila had a fascinating conversation with Richard Bleier recently about his accidental cutter that’s made him quietly one of the best relief pitchers in the game. (We’ll ignore him continuing to regress to the mean yesterday).

A Third of the Season is Over, and O’s Need to Face Reality

Like the rest of us, Baltimore Baseball’s Dan Connolly has seen enough. We’ve reached the Memorial Day marker that Dan Duquette hinted at a month or so ago, and things haven’t gotten any better. Unfortunately, DD doesn’t have any power these days. Will Anderson and the Angeloses be convinced to sell and sell hard? We’ll see.

Hot Commodities in Relief Pitching Market

According to Buster Olney, the Orioles will, in fact, start selling here soon…after the draft. In addition to Zach Britton, who could be back to audition for suitors here in a few weeks’ time, he mentions Bleier as a potential trade candidate, along with, of course, Manny Machado.


Let’s not get swept by the Gnats, please. Please?

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Series Preview: Orioles (17-36) vs. Nationals (29-22)

Mascots of the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals.

After concluding an eleven-game road swing by dropping two of three to the Rays over the weekend, the Orioles are set to return home and host the Nationals for a three-game set.

The Orioles (17-36) have dug themselves into a massive hole through the first two months of the season. After going 8-20 through April, they’ve gone just 9-16 in the month of May. An upcoming seven-game home stand against the in-form Nationals and Yankees is up next on the schedule.

The Nationals (29-22) may have stumbled out of the starting blocks in April, but have wasted no time in finding their feet this month. Fresh off of a three-game sweep of the Marlins in South Beach, the Nats’ record in May stands at an impressive 16-6.

Alex Cobb (1-6, 7.32 ERA) will take on Gio Gonzalez (5-2, 2.38 ERA) in today’s Memorial Day match-up.
Cobb was tagged to the tune of six runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings during his last start in Chicago, but had posted quality starts in three of the four starts prior to his most recent outing. He owns a 1-3 record and a 4.88 ERA through five starts in May.

Gonzalez has been in excellent form for the Nats this season, and picked up his fifth win on the year after holding the Padres to two runs on just two hits over seven innings during his last start. Through four starts in May, Gonzalez has gone 2-0 with a sparkling 1.96 ERA.

Dylan Bundy (3-6, 4.45 ERA) will go up against Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 2.13 ERA) on Tuesday.

Bundy was phenomenal during his last start against the White Sox and allowed three runs on two hits over nine innings while racking up a whopping fourteen strikeouts in the process. Over his last three starts, Bundy seems to have snapped back into form and has gone 2-1 with a stellar 2.86 ERA during that span.

Hellickson has had a tremendous start to his tenure in DC to say the least. After holding the Padres to a single run over 5 1/3 innings during his last start, Hellickson now owns a magnificent 0.79 ERA and a 0.66 WHIP through 22 2/3 innings pitched this month over four starts.

David Hess (2-1, 4.15 ERA) will face Max Scherzer (8-1, 2.13 ERA) in Wedneday’s series finale.

Hess was impressive en route to holding the Rays to just four hits over 6 2/3 shutout innings during his latest outing, and will be looking to keep the ball rolling against a dangerous Nationals line-up. He’s posted quality starts in two of his first three career contests since being called up on May 12th.

Simply put, Scherzer is at it again this season. Despite allowing four runs over six innings during his last start in Miami, he picked up the win and now owns a 3-0 record and a stellar 2.76 ERA through five starts in May. On the year, Scherzer has allowed two runs or less in ten of his eleven starts, five hits or less in nine of eleven and has recorded ten-plus strikeouts on seven different occasions.



Adam Jones remains in red-hot form coming into the week. He’s hitting .379 (11-for-29) with five runs, two homers and two RBI over his last seven contests. He’s also hitting .316 with four doubles, five home runs and ten RBI on the month.

Jonathan Schoop is starting to heat up as we approach June. Over his last seven games, the Orioles star second baseman is hitting .310 with five runs, one homer and one RBI. He’s also recorded hits in six of seven contests during that span.

Trea Turner comes into town on a hot streak. Over his last seven ballgames, the Nationals dynamo is hitting .313 (10-for-32) with one homer and seven RBI.

Mark Reynolds is the Nationals danger man at the moment. Over ten games in May, the former Orioles slugger is hitting a ridiculous .448 (13-for-29) with eight runs, five home runs and seven RBI.

That’s it for now, folks!

Enjoy the beltway series.

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Series Preview: Orioles (16-34) @ Rays (23-25)

Sergio Romo of the Rays walks off the mound.

After splitting their four-game set with the White Sox in Chi-Town, the Orioles are now set to conclude their road trip with a three-game set in Tampa over the weekend.

The Orioles (16-34) have gone 3-5 so far during their current stint away from Camden Yards, but seem to be determined to put their early-season misery behind them. After starting the 2018 campaign on an 8-27 note, they’ve now doubled their season win total over the last fifteen games.

The Rays (23-25) are set to host the Birds after dropping two of three against the Red Sox, but have been in solid form as of late. After going 3-8 through their first eleven games in May, they’ve now won seven of their last ten contests.

David Hess (1-1, 6.75 ERA) will get the nod against Sergio Romo (1-0, 4.34 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Hess will be looking to get back in the win column after giving up five runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings during his latest outing in Boston. He notched his first career win on his MLB debut against the Rays on May 12th.

Romo will be making his third straight ”start” as part of Tampa Bay’s piggyback pitching set-up. Over nine games (two starts) this month, Romo has posted a stout 3.00 ERA and has held hitters to a .206 batting average over nine innings of work.

Andrew Cashner (2-5, 4.72 ERA) will match-up against Ryne Stanek (0-0, 5.40 ERA) on Saturday.
Cashner snapped his streak of seven straight starts without a win during his last time out by holding the Chi’Sox to two runs over five innings, and will be looking for a second straight solid outing in Tampa. Over four starts this month, Cashner has gone 1-1 with a 4.64 ERA.

Stanek will be making his first ever start against the Orioles. A first round pick out of Arkansas in 2013, Stanek owns a 5.76 ERA over 27 career appearances as a reliever since making his debut in May 2017.

Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.48 ERA) will look to record another excellent start against Sergio Romo/ Ryan Yarbrough (4-2, 3.54 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Gausman shut out the White Sox over 6 1/3 innings and recorded ten strikeouts to just one walk during his last start, but was robbed of the win due to the ‘Sox late-game comeback win. The Orioles 2018 ace has been lights out with a 2.63 ERA over four starts this month, and has gone 2-2 with a sparkling 2.49 ERA over his last seven contests.

Yarbrough has been starring in his current role with the Rays, and the Rays’ unorthodox approach doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. The rookie southpaw has allowed just two runs over his last 11 1/3 innings. Over four games (two starts) in May, Yarbrough has notched a 3-1 record and a stellar 2.95 ERA over 21 1/3 innings of work.



Manny Machado continues to be one of the hottest hitters in baseball coming into Tampa. He’s hitting .311 with six homers and seventeen RBI over his last fifteen games.

Adam Jones has also stayed in red-hot form this month. He’s hitting .310 with four doubles, five homers and ten RBI in May and has posted a .367 average with two homers and four RBI over his last seven contests.

Matt Duffy is on fire at the moment. Over his last fifteen games, the Rays Third Baseman is hitting an incredible .382 (21-for-55) with one home run and seven RBI.

– Rays catcher and former National Wilson Ramos is also tearing the cover off the ball this season. He’s hitting a whopping .385 with two home runs and six RBI over his last seven ballgames and has recorded an excellent .339 average with six homers and 24 RBI over his last thirty.

That’s it for now, folks!

Here’s to coming home on a high note.

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Thursday Thoughts: Anderson Seems to Prefer “Hybrid” Role

Dan Duquette and Brady Anderson stand near the Orioles dugout.

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. As of last year, I cut it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver/€“Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. All the chatter surrounding the Orioles right now pertains to one basic premise – what’s next? No one really knows, and that’s really because still, no one knows who is calling the shots. The Baltimore Sun published a piece yesterday that seemed to generate much conversation about this topic.

The article, written by Eduardo Encina and Peter Schmuck with contributions from Jeff Barker and Jon Meoli, honestly didn’t teach me much. From everything I read on blogs and social media, many focused on Brady Anderson, the team’s Vice President of Baseball Operations. He was obviously the main source of the article as he’s quoted throughout. In it, he said he did not want to be the team’s general manager next season.

To me, it’s important to read between the lines of what Anderson is saying. He’s not going to come right out and say he wants the role and responsibilities currently owned by Dan Duquette, because Duquette is still with the organization (much to many people’s chagrin or surprise). Even if he does want such a role, he can’t just come right out and claim it. It wouldn’t be right. But deep down I’m not so sure Anderson wants to be in that role, because it would put him behind a desk. It would require him to know more about all levels of the minor leagues and even farm systems for the other 29 teams. It would involve much more scouting (in a franchise that already has a tiny scouting department) than he seems accustomed to.

Anderson has played this hybrid role of front office member and almost coach for a few years now. He’s active with players and I don’t see it as something he’d want to give up. Unless there’s some type of overhaul of his role where he would be elevated to make all the baseball decisions while keeping his current role of being someone who works out with players, I don’t see it happening. He would need a huge support staff in order to make something like that work.

2. Everyone is playing fantasy GM right now when it comes to Manny Machado, so allow me to join in. Before I do, I’ll say that I have no idea what the O’s can get for Machado in a trade. I don’t think his value is nearly as high as some people think, but I also don’t think it’s super low just because he’s a rental. Much of the conversation has surrounded the Cubs and their shortstop Addison Russell.

Just the other day, former GM Jim Bowden speculated in “The Athletic” that the Cubs would be the favorite to land Machado and could do so with Russell and perhaps two of their pitching prospects. That’s all fine and dandy. Especially when he speculated that the O’s could add Adam Jones to a deal and land Ian Happ in return. I’m fine with all of it.

But I wouldn’t prefer it. Something about Russell rubs me the wrong way. The 24-year-old was the centerpiece in the 2014 trade from the Athletics that sent him, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily to Chicago in exchange for Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. So one team has already traded him away. He’s still young, and has already been an All-Star, but my sensors go off when a second team is willing to ship him away.

I’d be more comfortable with another deal Bowden proposed in his piece. If the Orioles can somehow pry J.P. Crawford away from the Phillies, that would be my ideal move. Again, this is all in a perfect world where we are playing fantasy GM. Bowden also said the Phillies might be willing to throw in top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, which I find hard (if not impossible) to believe, but that would be about 17 cherries on top of the sundae. Not only because Sanchez is supposedly one of the can’t-miss pitching arms in the minors, but also because his name is Sixto and that’s just awesome.

3. The struggles of Chris Davis have reached a fever pitch, but don’t expect the Orioles to cut ties. Many are calling for it, but this is the same team that didn’t cut ties with Ubaldo Jimenez on a four-year deal through his struggles. Davis is still somehow getting starts while batting fifth in the order. He hasn’t fallen that far from grace in the eyes of the team, despite his abysmal stat line.

More than anything, it looks like there’s a mental block with Davis rather than a physical one. Watching him constantly stare at strike three down the middle is frustrating and concerning. I’ve seen more two-seam fastballs break right over the heart of the plate with no offering as these struggles continue. I had to see it to believe it when I looked it up the other day, but Davis could have a legitimate shot at breaking the all-time career strikeout mark if he continues to play regularly.

In this day and age, it’s not all that shocking. The strikeout is much more prevalent in today’s game than in the past. Reggie Jackson holds the record with 2,597 career strikeouts, and Davis would have to continue his 200+ strikeout pace beyond his current contract. But it’s within reach. Something tells me that Davis will soon become more of a 110-120 game player each season at best if he keeps up his struggles.

We may not be far off from that.

4. Last week’s demotion of Caleb Joseph came as a bit of a surprise to me. It was surprising only in the sense that it wasn’t expected, not that it was unreasonable. Joseph was hitting just .182/.203/.325 in 24 games with the O’s this season and losing playing time to rookie Chance Sisco. There’s no question that, even in a completely lost season, swapping out one of the two catcher’s spots on the roster was reasonable from a numbers standpoint.

But in such a lost season, what did not compute for me was bringing up Andrew Susac over Austin Wynns. It’s not that there’s a large age gap between the two (Susac is 28, Wynns is 27), but Wynns is a player drafted by the Orioles and thought to be, along with Sisco, one of the future “pieces” for the organization.

In a lost season such as this, the team should be getting every look it can at players it believes can be part of the future. I’m not really convinced the team traded for Susac because he is part of the future. In the long run, Sisco is going to get the bulk of the playing time anyhow and is the player the organization wants to be the catcher going forward. But it would be interesting to see Wynns get a chance to show something at the big league level in the near future.

This idea or premise, of course, applies to every position at this point. The Orioles should be evaluating their own talent for the future.

The question just remains, who is it exactly that is doing the evaluating?

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Tuesday’s O’s Links: Chicago Swarms Manny

Cubs fans with a sign saying they want Manny Machado.

After another disappointing series in Boston (where they’re now 1-6 this season), the Birds flew to Chicago for a matchup of teams that look to be vying for the number one pick in next year’s draft. The O’s got the better of the ChiSox in game one, but all eyes were on Manny Machado, who is rumored to be headed to The Windy City in a trade – though not to the Sox.

To the links.

Teammates Play Along as Machado is Greeted as Potential Cubs Savior in Chicago

Like I said above, Manny was greeted by a gaggle of Chicago reporters who wanted to ask him about potentially playing for the Cubs. His teammates had some fun at his expense, giving him mock hugs as if he was already gone. Ha ha…(sobbing quietly)

Also, I had no idea Manny & Cub Albert Almora Jr. were cousins. Neat.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 238: Either/Or

Jake & Scott debut a new segment, #TheMannyMachadoWatch. Also, what’s up with Dylan Bundy, why did Caleb Joseph get demoted, and what’s different about cheering for a bad team?

How High Will Chris Davis Climb on the Career Strikeouts List?

Mark Brown of Camden Chat presents a “fun” little thought exercise about Chris Davis, because there is literally nothing fun about watching “Crush” (HA!) swing the bat right now.

Could O’s Learn from the Rays’ New Pitching Strategy?

Over in his weekly MASN guest column, our own Andrew Stetka wonders if the Birds should start #bullpenning early in games as the Rays did with Sergio Romo over the weekend. Right here at ESR, Riley Blake had some thoughts on this as well.

2021 is a Fair Target, So Tear Down That Club!

Camden Depot’s Jon Shepherd turns an eye toward making the O’s competitive again in 2021 (sigh), and says that trading not only Machado, but Jonathan Schoop, AND Kevin Gausman (all players who will be free agents after 2020 or sooner) to restock the farm. Short of just saying “get some prospects!,” Jon uses his industry knowledge and connections to aim for specific players from specific teams.

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The Case for an Orioles “Opener”

Mychal Givens pitches.

The Tampa Bay Rays turned heads on Saturday night when they opted to use set-up man Sergio Romo as their starting pitcher against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Romo had made 589 big league appearances prior to Saturday, with every single one of them coming in relief. The thought process employed by manager Kevin Cash and the Rays front office was simple: allow Romo to pitch to the right-handed heavy top half of the Angels lineup and then allow left-hander Ryan Yarbrough to take over in a long relief role. The plan worked to perfection, as Romo struck out all three batters he faced (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, and Justin Upton) before giving way to Yarbrough in the second inning.

MLB Network analyst and sabermetrics guru Brian Kenny had long advocated for a similar plan of bullpen usage. In theory, this would allow a club’s top relief pitchers to face the opposing team’s top hitters right off the bat and prevent them from getting a third at-bat against the same pitcher like they would against a conventional starter. In a clip posted to his Twitter feed on Saturday, Kenny lauded the Rays move as revolutionary and noted that MLB clubs have scored more runs on average in the first inning than any other inning in the modern era. Kenny also threw in a statistic that may be of particular interest to O’s fans: the Orioles lead the major leagues with 60 runs allowed this season in the first inning alone.

Would an “opener” make sense for the Birds? Maybe, but only against teams like the Angels whose top three or four hitters hit from the same side of the plate or who have similar splits against a particular handedness of pitcher. The top four hitters (sorted by 2018 OPS) of the Orioles’ four AL East opponents are as follows:

Three of the top four hitters in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays lineups are right-handed. Of course, using a right-handed opening pitcher against these teams wouldn’t be as straightforward as what the Rays did to the three right-handers at the top of the Angels lineup, as the opener would still need to face at least one lefty hitter. Further complicating the matter, not all of the hitters mentioned above hit at the top of the lineup. This is a risk the Orioles would have to take if they decide to use an opener, especially considering that managers looking to exploit the opening pitcher may stack the top of the lineup with opposite handed hitters. But is it worth it for Yankees manager Aaron Boone to move Judge and Stanton to the bottom of the Yankees lineup simply to avoid the opening pitcher, even if it means they would get fewer at-bats overall? I don’t think so.

Which pitchers, then, could the Orioles use as right-handed openers? Two traits could indicate that a pitcher might be a good fit: the ability to limit offensive output from right-handed batters and/or a tendency to struggle after facing hitters for the second or third time in a game.

Three Orioles pitchers jump off of the page as fitting this profile.

Mychal Givens, RHP

Givens has been an integral part of the Orioles’ relief corps since 2015, posting a career ERA of 2.79 out of the bullpen. He’s also been consistently good against hitters from both sides of the plate. However, his three-quarters arm slot and devastating slider make him especially tough on righties. Givens’ combination of arm slot, pitch repertoire, and comfort level in retiring hitters from both sides of the plate makes him the Orioles pitcher I would most trust getting through the difficult top halves of the Yankees and Red Sox lineups – especially considering that Stanton, Sanchez, Judge, and Betts are hitting a combined .200 (5 for 25) against him.

Darren O’Day, RHP

Much like Givens, O’Day’s uncommon arm slot and good slider as a reliever make him a natural fit to get tough right-handed hitters out. Unlike Givens, however, O’Day has a more difficult time retiring lefties than righties: over the past three years, left-handers have combined OPS of .691 against him (compared to .553 when he faces right-handers). This could make it a difficult assignment for O’Day to retire lefty hitters like Andrew Benintendi or Didi Gregorius on a consistent basis.

Yefry Ramirez, RHP

Ramirez is a member of the Triple-A Norfolk Tides’ starting rotation. So far in 2018, he’s limited hitters to a .203 batting average while striking out 10.1 batters per 9 innings, both of which indicate strong performance. A closer analysis of his pitching splits reveals that lefties are hitting .245 with an astounding .732 OPS off of Ramirez, whereas he’s limited righties to a .141 average and an OPS of .394. Unlike Givens or O’Day, he also has recent starting experience and would be comfortable pitching multiple innings if need be.

While I would still prefer to see the Orioles give Givens a shot as an opening pitcher, I would be more than comfortable handing the ball to O’Day or Ramirez as an opener against right-heavy lineups. The Orioles, much like the Rays, aren’t expected to do much of anything this year in an AL East division dominated by Boston and New York. There’s no better time than now to experiment with this idea, even if it sounds odd and sacrilegious on the surface. In the worst case scenario, the Orioles are marginally worse than expected.

In the best case, they find a pitching strategy that allows them a leg up on their American League competition for several years to come.

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Series Preview: Orioles (14-32) @ White Sox (13-30)

Andrew Cashner pitches.

After dropping three of four to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Orioles are now set to kick off a four-game series in the Windy City against the White Sox.

The Orioles (14-32) will be aiming for better results during the second leg of their current three-city road trip, but that has been easier said than done this season. The Orioles are 6-12 thus far in May and have went 1-15 over their last 16 games on the road.

The White Sox, on the other hand, haven’t piled up a lot of fond memories this season either. They’ve gone 5-12 so far during the month of May and have posted a dreadful 6-16 record at home this season. Three of those wins came during the latter part of last week against the struggling Texas Rangers.

Andrew Cashner (1-5, 4.83 ERA) will take the mound against Hector Santiago (0-1, 5.29 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Cashner took another loss during his last start after giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies. He will be looking for his first win since April 5th. The native Texan has went 0-4 with a 5.03 ERA over his last seven starts. He’s also allowed three runs or more in six straight starts.

Santiago took the no-decision in his latest start despite giving up just two runs on two hits over five innings against the Pirates. He’ll be making his fourth start of the season on Monday after starting the season in the bullpen.

Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.88 ERA) will take on James Shields (1-4, 4.88 ERA) in Tuesday’s match-up.

Gausman took the loss after getting tagged for six runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings in Boston, but will be looking to quickly bounce back into his previous stellar form. He had allowed two runs or less in five straight starts prior to his last while recording an outstanding 1.75 ERA during that span.

Shields took a tough no-decision in his last start despite shutting down the Rangers to the tune of one run on three hits over 7 1/3 innings. After posting an 0-3 record and a 6.17 ERA during the month of April, Shields has returned to form by posting a stout 3.46 ERA through four starts in May.

Alex Cobb (1-5, 6.56 ERA) will get the nod for the O’s on Wednesday, but the White Sox haven’t named his adversary as of yet.

Cobb finally notched his long-awaited first win as an Oriole after holding the Red Sox to three runs over 6 1/3 innings last Friday, but has been in great form all month long for the Birds. After going through a nightmare in April, Cobb has recorded an impressive 3.38 ERA through four starts thus far in May.

Dylan Bundy (2-6, 4.70 ERA) will match-up against Lucas Giolito (3-4, 6.42 ERA) in the series finale on Thursday.

Bundy took the loss after allowing four runs on three homers over six innings at Fenway. He will be looking to bounce back in a hurry. After starting off the season in tremendous form, Bundy has gone 1-4 with a worrisome 9.41 ERA over his last five starts.

Giolito notched his second straight win after holding the Rangers to two runs on four hits over six innings, and will be looking to stay in current form against the Orioles. After a rough go of things in the early stages this season, Giolito has gone 3-1 with a 4.55 ERA over his last five outings and has allowed three runs or less in four of them.


Manny Machado carries a four-game hit streak into the Windy City and has stayed in red-hot form as we enter the final third of May. On the month, Machado is hitting .314 with six doubles, five home runs and 20 RBI.

Adam Jones has also been in great form during the month of May. He’s recorded hits in 14 of his last 15 contests and is also hitting .314 with three doubles, three homers and eight RBI on the month.

— The red-hot Danny Valencia will look to stay in-form during the Orioles stay in Chi-Town. He’s gone 8-for-15 during his four-game hit streak and is hitting an incredible .394 with two homers and seven RBI this month.

— Danger! White Sox superstar Jose Abreu is heating up, and maybe the Orioles shouldn’t pitch to him. He’s hitting .354 with eight doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI during the month of May.

That’s it for now, folks!

Here’s to hitting Tampa on a high note.

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Ramirez Impressive, but Tides Drop Two of Three

Yefry Ramirez pitches.


The Norfolk Tides returned home to Harbor Park on Wednesday night for a three game series against the Indianapolis Indians. The club dropped two out of three games, but starting pitcher Yefry Ramirez and infielder Drew Dosch each made significant contributions.


The Indianapolis Indians are the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Indians entered the first game of the series at 18-16, good for second place in the International League West and 4.5 games behind the first place Toledo Mud Hens. The team features four of the Pirates’ top 30 prospects as ranked by MLB’s Prospect Pipeline: outfielder Austin Meadows (2), shortstop Kevin Newman (7), second baseman Kevin Kramer (8), and outfielder Jordan Luplow (22). The Indians’ offense ranks first in the International League in team batting average and combined on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Shortstop Kevin Newman was the reigning International League Player of the Week, having posted a fantastic batting line of .519/.552/.778 for the previous week’s games.


The Tides entered the series with the Indians in second place in the International League South with a record of 19-15, 1.5 games behind the division-leading Durham Bulls. After an April that saw the club tread water with a record of 11-10, the club enjoyed an 8-5 start to May behind the bats of third baseman Drew Dosch and catcher Andrew Susac, who entered the Indianapolis series hitting .320 on the year, including a .433 average against right-handed pitching.

The Tides feature five of the Orioles top 30 prospects: outfielder D.J. Stewart (11), left-handed pitcher Chris Lee (12), right-handers David Hess and Yefry Ramirez (16 and 17, respectively) and catcher Austin Wynns (22).


Indianapolis 10, Norfolk 8

W: Alex McRae L: Chris Lee SV: Johnny Hellweg

A late comeback from the Tides fell just short on Tuesday night, as they were defeated by Indianapolis 10-8. A 10-run second inning doomed Norfolk starting pitcher Chris Lee, who exited after 1.2 innings pitched having given up seven runs (four earned). Reliever Jhan Marinez gave up three runs in 3.1 innings of relief, though none were earned. The Tides scored eight unanswered runs between the 3rd and 7th innings, but failed to push home any more in the 8th or 9th.

Center fielder Mike Yastrzemski went 3-4 and finished a home run shy of the cycle in his 2018 Tides debut after a promotion from AA Bowie. Third baseman Drew Dosch had three hits, including a pair of doubles.

Norfolk 4, Indianapolis 3

W: Matt Wotherspoon L: Bo Schultz

Third baseman Renato Nunez had three RBIs, including a walk-off base hit, as the Tides fended off a ninth inning Indianapolis rally en route to a 4-3 victory on a rainy Wednesday night. Tides starter Yefry Ramirez twirled seven shutout innings while allowing only one hit, while Nunez and left fielder Jaycob Brugman staked the Tides to an early 3-0 lead with RBI hits in the third and fourth innings. Reliever Andrew Faulkner pitched a clean eighth, but a pair of Indianapolis singles in the ninth prompted Tides manager Ron Johnson to call on Matt Wotherspoon out of the bullpen.

Wotherspoon immediately surrendered a three-run homer to Indians outfielder Jordan Luplow to tie the game, though the right-hander worked his way out of trouble by recording the final two outs to send the game to the bottom half of the frame still tied at 3. An inning opening single by Brugman in the bottom of the ninth of off newly-entered Indians reliever Bo Schultz was followed by a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Adrian Marin and an intentional walk to center fielder Mike Yastrzemski, paving the way for Nunez to line a ball into the left field corner to easily score Brugman from second and send Norfolk home with the win.

Indianapolis 6, Norfolk 0

W: Clay Holmes L: Jason Gurka

Indianapolis starter Clay Holmes blanked the Tides on Thursday afternoon, tossing six shutout innings while allowing only two hits. Both Holmes and Norfolk starter Jimmy Yacabonis were forced to work around a 33-minute rain delay in the top of the fourth inning.

Yacabonis worked through the fourth inning, striking out three and having needed to work in and out of trouble. The Indians scored their first run in the sixth inning after outfielder Jordan Ludlow hit a ringing double off of Tides reliever Jason Gurka to plate Kevin Kramer from first base. Indianapolis left fielder Chris Bostick launched a solo homer to right field off of reliever Jhan Marinez in the eighth to jump start a four-run inning and cement the Indians’ lead. Tides DH Drew Dosch lined a double into left-center field to continue his hot streak, having now hit safely in nine of his last ten games. Norfolk reliever Jason Gurka exited the game in the eighth inning with an apparent groin injury after throwing three innings.


Drew Dosch, 3B/DH: 12 AB, 4 H, 3 2B, 2 R, 1 BB

Dosch, the Orioles’ seventh-round draft pick in 2013 out of Youngstown State, maintained his torrid hitting pace during the series against the Indians. The left-handed swinging Dosch’s 10 doubles in 2018 places him fifth in the International League in that category despite having played in just 22 of the Tides’ 37 games.

He hit in the middle of the batting order in all three games, playing third base in Wednesday’s contest and then serving as the designated hitter to accommodate newly-acquired third baseman Renato Nunez in the final two games of the series. Manager Ron Johnson noted on the radio pregame show that he hopes to occasionally use Dosch, who has been a third baseman throughout his minor league career, at first base moving forward.


Yefry Ramirez, RHP: 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 7 K, 1 H, 0 BB

Ramirez, the Orioles’ number 17 prospect, dominated over seven innings on Wednesday night and gave much-needed rest to the Norfolk bullpen. He allowed only one hit, a first inning infield single to the red-hot Kevin Newman, and struck out seven hitters. Ramirez faced only two matters over the minimum and worked both sides of the plate with a fastball in the low 90’s and a mid-80’s slider. He also made an impressive play in the first inning, quickly getting off of the mound to foil a drag bunt attempt from left fielder Chris Bostick. Ramirez needed just 81 pitches to get through seven innings, throwing 54 strikes in the process. The Orioles acquired the 24-year old Ramirez from the New York Yankees at last year’s trade deadline in exchange for international signing bonus money.


The Tides welcome the Louisville Bats, the AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, to Harbor Park for a three-game weekend series starting Friday night. The Bats feature the No. 6 prospect in all of Minor League Baseball in infielder Nick Senzel but come to Norfolk with the worst record in the International League. The Tides will send Tim Melville (5-0, 2.97 ERA) to the mound on Friday against the Bats’ Robert Stephenson (2-4, 3.93). Following the series with the Bats, the team will begin an eight-game road trip to play the Charlotte Knights and Toledo Mud Hens.

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The Orioles are Still Going to Screw This Up Somehow

Despite their recent “successful” home stand, in which they went 5-3 – a nice positive turn for them, mediocre for any true contender – the Orioles of 2018 are still a lost cause. They’re a woeful 13-30, and their road record is the stuff of nightmares: 3-17, losers of 13 straight, and they’ve yet to win a game in any park other than Camden Yards or Yankee Stadium so far this season (0-16 everywhere else).

Just truly, remarkably awful. The 13 straight road losses ties a franchise-worst, set back in – you guessed it – 1988. Even after finally winning a few games and getting back to a non-historically-awful pace, good ol’ 1988 just keeps popping up. That should be all you need to realize that this isn’t just a run-of-the-mill bad season.

Still, that could actually be a positive thing in the long-term, right? Prior to the season, many of us considered the worst-case scenario for this team to be hanging around .500 as the trade deadline approached, within striking distance of that second wild card spot. In that scenario, we knew it would be likely the team would choose not to trade away any of their assets with an eye to the future, but instead trade one of their few prospects for another band-aid Gerardo Parra/Scott Feldman-type player in an attempt to “go for it” one last time.

This team, thanks to being so, so bad, will have no similar illusions. Perhaps we can get this much-needed rebuild kick-started after all, yes? While Manny Machado won’t have nearly the value he did last year, or even an offseason or two ago, he could still bring back some potentially useful young, controllable pieces from a contender in need of a spark. Same goes for Brad Brach, and potentially even Zach Britton and/or Adam Jones. Guys like Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy should perhaps also be on the block, depending on your outlook.

Here’s the piece we all seem to be forgetting – willfully or not – though: this is still the Orioles we’re talking about here. Whatever they end up doing has about a 50/50 chance of making any damn sense at all.

Check out these quotes from Dan Duquette, via MLB’s Daniel Kramer:

“If you’re going to revamp your club and get better for the future, as an organization, you might want to take a look at all the options and players that are valuable to you who might be more valuable in the trade market,” Duquette said. “I don’t know. We haven’t really made that determination. That’s another consideration.

“The other consideration is: What if Manny Machado is having an MVP season and he’s on his way to the Triple Crown? Is that a player that a club wants to trade? Even though their season may not be a championship season this year? So, there’s a lot of different questions for the organization to answer, but it’s really about timing. How many good players can you have together at the same time? And can you keep them together for a period of time to give yourself a chance to go again for the playoffs?”

Matt Kremnitzer of Camden Depot tweeted out a portion of those quotes, eliciting this response from one fan:

That’s certainly a fair take, given what we fans know about the way things work in The Warehouse. Still, most recent rumblings are that ol’ Pete has, for whatever reason, taken a back seat as far as the baseball team goes. Maybe his sons, Lou and/or John, would veto such a trade in Pete’s stead. Or maybe not.

Even if you take Duquette’s comments as just more blabber from a lame-duck GM, or if you really give him the benefit of the doubt and think he’s adroitly playing a game of “don’t tip my hand,” none of that suddenly makes him a skillful negotiator with overarching decision-making power and vision for the Orioles’ future.

We really don’t know who is making the decisions these days, and there have been no fewer than three big pieces recently around the web about the O’s internal dysfunction and just how screwed they seem to be at the moment and going forward.

In case you missed them:

The Boston Globe: How the Orioles Became the Most Dysfunctional Organization in Baseball

Camden Depot: Welcome to the Abyss

Orioles Hangout: The Orioles’ Game of Thrones and the Way Forward

The bottom line here is that this is STILL the Orioles we’re talking about. Nobody knows who is making the final calls, or what their motivation for said calls will be. Are Angelos & Sons just trying to keep getting OPACY 1/4 filled for the rest of 2018? If so, maybe keeping a guy on his way to a Triple Crown makes sense, in a ridiculous sorta way.

Does Dan Duquette give a damn about the Orioles’ future? He very likely isn’t going to be a part of it, so really…why should he? Even if he was, do you trust him to be the one in charge of making trades to get a rebuild started? If the answer is “no” (understandable), what about the others who ostensibly have decision-making authority. Do you trust Brady Anderson to deal with the Theo Epsteins of the world? Can Buck Showalter be trusted to evaluate potential prospect acquisitions in addition to his current on-field duties?

As for me, I’ll put it this way:

I wish I could end on some sort of hopeful note here. But you’re all smarter than that. I’ll just join you in watching this train wreck, hoping for some semblance of light to appear at the end of the tunnel. Or, as Jon Shepherd put it, at the bottom of the abyss.

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Series Preview: Orioles (13-29) @ Red Sox (29-14)

A shot from inside Fenway Park during a game.

After concluding their eight-game home stand with a 4-1 loss against the Phillies, the Orioles are set to kick off an eleven-game road trip by taking on the Red Sox for a four-game set at Fenway.

The Orioles (13-29) have been in solid form with a 5-2 record over their last seven games, but they’ll be looking to end their misery on the road this season during their upcoming three-legged stint away from Camden Yards. They’ve gone just 3-16 and have lost twelve straight while on tour as they head up to Boston.

The Red Sox (29-14) have cooled down considerably as of late. After starting the season with a sparkling 21-7 record through April, they’ve gone 8-7 thus far in May and trail the Yankees by half a game for first place in the AL East.

Kevin Gausman (3-2, 3.18 ERA) will take on David Price (3-4, 4.89 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Gausman has been in excellent form this season, and after holding the Rays to two runs over 7 1/3 innings in his latest winning effort, he’s now allowed just two runs over 16 1/3 innings through two starts in May. Over his last five outings, Gausman has posted a 2-1 record and a stellar 1.75 ERA over 36 innings of work.

Price earned the win after holding the Blue Jays to two runs over 5 1/3 innings during his last start, and he and the Red Sox will be hoping this is a sign of a turnaround. He had allowed 16 earned runs over 17 innings in the three starts prior to his last.

Alex Cobb (0-5, 7.06 ERA) will take the mound against Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 5.47 ERA) on Friday.

Cobb took the loss in his last start against the Rays after allowing three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings, and is still on the hunt for his first win as an Oriole. However, he has shook off his nightmare start to the season by posting a stout 3.06 ERA over his last 17 2/3 innings.

Pomeranz made an early exit during his last start after allowing three runs on five hits over four innings against Toronto, and will be looking to return to form against Baltimore. He had posted two straight quality starts and gave up just five runs over 12 innings prior to his start versus the Blue Jays.

Dylan Bundy (2-5, 4.53 ERA) will match-up against Rick Porcello (5-1, 3.28 ERA) on Saturday.

Bundy was superb during his latest outing against the Rays and allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings as he cruised to his second win of the season. Bundy will be hoping for more of the same after getting tagged in each of his three starts prior to his last. During that span, he had allowed a whopping 19 runs over just nine innings of work.

Porcello took the loss after giving up five runs over six innings during his last start in Oakland, and will be looking to avoid a third straight off-key start. He’s allowed 10 runs over his last 11 1/3 innings of work. Prior to his recent struggles, Porcello went 5-0 with an outstanding 2.14 ERA over his first seven starts of the season.

The Orioles haven’t named a starter to go against Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1, 4.68 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.

Will it be David Hess? Miguel Castro? Or the people’s champ, Richard Bleier? Stay tuned.

Rodriguez took his first loss of the season after giving up three runs over five innings against Oakland. He’s now winless through three starts in May after going 3-0 during the month of April.



Adam Jones carries an 11-game hit streak into Boston. During that span, he’s gone 15-for-44 at the plate with three home runs and five RBI.

Trey Mancini has gone 9-for-26 with eight runs, three homers and six RBI over his last seven games.

Manny Machado has gone 9-for-28 with eight runs, four homers and eleven RBI over his last seven contests.

Mookie Betts continues to light the world on fire for the Red Sox. During the month of May, he’s gone 22-for-60 at the plate with five doubles, five homers and ten RBI.

– J.D. Martinez is also in red-hot form at the moment. Through fifteen games in May, he’s gone 21-for-59 with three doubles, seven home runs and fourteen RBI.

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Thursday’s O’s Links: Miguel Castro Should Still Get a Start or Two

Miguel Castro throws in Sarasota.

After a washout on Tuesday, the O’s lost a nooner on Wednesday to Philadelphia to finish up their first successful homestand of the year at 5-3. They now head off on an 11-game road trip, a terrifying prospect to any O’s fan. The Birds have lost 12 straight road games, and are a woeful 3-16 away from Camden Yards, with those only three wins coming at Yankee Stadium nearly six weeks ago.

What would constitute a “successful” road trip for this team? 3-8? 4-7? Sad state of affairs. Hopefully they surprise us all.

To the links.

Is Manny Machado a Legitimate MVP Candidate?

Our own Andrew Stetka joined the Locked on Orioles podcast with Justin McGuire to talk about Manny Machado’s MVP case…specifically, if he were to get traded and help his new team get into the playoffs. Andrew & Justin also discuss Gregg Olson’s stint in the broadcast booth, which Andrew mentioned in today’s Thursday Thoughts.

Is it Already Time to Sit Chris Davis More?

Need more bad news about Chris Davis? He homered in back-to-back games recently, and hit a double yesterday, but there has been no consistency. Certainly not nearly enough to get his numbers up to a respectable – and, as Matt Kremnitzer of Camden Depot points out NOT HISTORICALLY BAD level. Damn it all, man.

Triggering “Miguel Castro Starting Experiment” Makes Sense

Did you realize that Miguel Castro is younger than Hunter Harvey? That raised my eyebrows, honestly. Anyway, Dan Connolly says Castro should get a chance to be a starter at some point in this very likely lost season.

Looking on the Bright Side: Jonathan Schoop is Healthy & Has Improved

Over at Baltimore Sports Report, Connor Guercio is taking on the herculean task of trying to find silver linings to this Orioles season. In this edition, he says that Jonathan Schoop is on his way to yet again being Dope, and thanks to Robinson Cano doing some Dope, he could even sneak his way onto the All-Star team again.

Is Brad Brach Really This Bad?

Ben Palmer of the Baltimore Wire digs into Brad Brach’s struggles to start 2018, concluding that it’s a lack of fastball command that’s really been the culprit. Here’s to Brach finding that command and showing that he can be the lock-down arm that he has been over the past few seasons. We just need about a month-plus of additional sample size there to make him a nice little trade chip.


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Thursday Thoughts: Otter Impressive in Broadcast Booth

Gregg Olson and Joe Angel in the O's booth.

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. As of last year, I cut it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver/€“Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. The Orioles got a decent peek at what the bottom of their rotation could look like this past Saturday when David Hess started the first game of a doubleheader. The 24-year-old coughed up a three-run homer in the first inning, but was able to battle back and post five scoreless frames after that. He earned a win in his first big-league start. Hess was promptly sent back down to Norfolk after the game, but remains a candidate for the rotation going forward.

The other candidate is Miguel Castro, who has pitched entirely out of the bullpen. He was slated to start yesterday’s game prior to Tuesday’s rainout. Castro was pushed to the bullpen this spring after competing for a rotation spot in Sarasota.

Regardless of who takes over in the rotation, one thing is clear – they should be taking it over for a while. Chris Tillman has landed on the disabled list with one of those injuries that you don’t really believe is an injury. It’s a case of “underperformance” mixed with a lower back strain.

Much has been written about Tillman this past week that doesn’t need to be rehashed. He has been a great contributor to the Orioles for many years, but that time has got to be over. His performance, or lack of, is simply not good enough to justify keeping him on the team any longer.

2. As the Orioles continue to flounder in the basement of the AL East, even a mile away from Wild Card contention, I’m reminded of how close we now are to Memorial Day. That’s when the organization, and specifically executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, stated they would re-evaluate where they are as a team.

Everyone else has known for a while now that they are going nowhere fast in 2018.

The time to make massive changes is here. In fact, some would say it’s beyond that time. Memorial Day is just over a week away, and those changes could (should) come soon after that.

I’m not saying the Orioles will be making massive trades by June 1, but I would want them to at least declare some type of plan. That’s been my biggest issue all along. The Orioles have zero direction or plan for the future, at least not one they’ve stated publicly. They don’t need to reveal all of their cards, but they need to give fans some hope for the future. They need to determine who is making decisions and what direction the franchise is headed.

If Duquette isn’t coming back next season, they need to make that known. If Buck Showalter isn’t returning as manager, they also need to make that known.

All of this needs to happen right around Memorial Day, or an already restless fanbase will be driven mad.

3. I heard an awful lot of people whining about Tuesday night’s postponement, and while I have some sympathy for fans who waited three hours in the rain only to be told there would be no game, the complaints have also gone too far. So many people are blaming the Orioles for the situation, as if they control the weather.

Sure, the team probably knew the chances of getting the game in were small, but they still had to try. There are a lot of moving parts involved in a baseball season, especially with an interleague game. I don’t blame the O’s for trying to get the game in. I understand there were fans who had to pay for parking and concessions and things of that nature without getting to see a game. And I do believe fans should somehow be reimbursed if they paid to park on the stadium lot.

But what no one else wants to mention is that fans have basically the same information in terms of a weather forecast that everyone else does. If they didn’t think a game was going to be played, they didn’t have to trek to the stadium to wait around. If you had a ticket to Tuesday’s game and didn’t go down because of the weather, you still have a valid ticket for the makeup game. There’s always a chance of a delay or postponement when you go to a baseball game. These things aren’t controlled by one team or even the league.

Blaming those organizations, instead of mother nature, just seems fruitless.

4. A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience listening to a radio broadcast of a game in Detroit that was called by regular O’s play-by-play voice Joe Angel, with color commentary done by Brian Roberts. Being that yesterday’s game was also an afternoon affair, I had another opportunity to listen to the game on radio, rather than my usual habit of watching on television. It also gave me another chance to hear a former Oriole in the booth.

Orioles Hall of Famer Gregg Olson was alongside Angel for the game, and like Roberts, was a joy to listen to. Olson provided the right amount of “homerism” for a local broadcast while also being fair and critical when necessary. He also did a nice job of providing context on pitch selection and situational pitching, as you’d expect from a former big league arm.

Like Roberts, Olson was also a bit unpolished as a traditional “broadcaster,” but that’s exactly what you’d expect from someone who isn’t a…traditional broadcaster. He came off as an informed ex-player that knew where the focus of the game should go with each inning.

I really enjoy the option to listen to radio broadcasts during weekday games when I can’t be in front of a TV. The Orioles are doing a good job of bringing back former players like Olson, Roberts, and Ben McDonald to mix things up and give the broadcast some different flavor.

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Lee Struggles as Indy Nips Tides, 10-8

Chris Lee finishes his motion.

A late comeback attempt from the Tides fell just short on Tuesday night, as they were defeated by the Indianapolis Indians (the Pittsburgh Pirates’ AAA affiliate) 10-8. A 10-run second inning doomed Norfolk starting pitcher Chris Lee, who exited after 1.2 innings pitched having given up seven runs (four earned).

Reliever Jhan Marinez gave up three runs in 3.1 innings of relief, though none were earned. The Tides scored eight unanswered runs between the 3rd and 7th innings, but failed to push home any more in the 8th or 9th. Center fielder Mike Yastrzemski went 3-4 and finished a home run shy of the cycle in his 2018 Tides debut after a promotion from AA Bowie. Third baseman Drew Dosch had three hits, including a pair of doubles.



Chris Lee, LHP

Lee showcased a fastball with good sinking action, which sat 88-89 mph and occasionally touched 91 as well as a slider that sat in the low-to-mid 80’s. He works quickly with an athletic delivery and uses a deceptive leg kick out of the stretch. Lee struggled to keep his sinker and off-speed pitches down in the zone, walking three batters and hitting another. He appeared comfortable using his off-speed in disadvantage counts, even throwing a 3-0 changeup at one point.

Lee is rated the Orioles’ No. 12 prospect by MLB.com.

Mike Yastrzemski, OF

Yastrzemski had three hits and a walk in his first game with the Tides in 2018, finishing a home run shy of the cycle. The Indians utilized a traditional infield shift on the left-handed hitting Yastrzemski (as well as on teammate Alex Presley) with nobody on base. He showed plus speed on the basepaths and got two good jumps from first base on attempted hit and runs (one was fouled away and the other was a lazy fly ball to left field). The Orioles drafted Yastrzemski, the grandson of Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, in 2014 out of Vanderbilt University.

Drew Dosch, 3B

Dosch, Norfolk’s 2018 team leader in doubles, hit two more on Tuesday night and also added in a single. Drafted out of Youngstown State by the Orioles during the 7th round of the 2013 draft, he hits significantly better against right-handed pitching than against southpaws. Dosch’s combined 39 doubles in 2017 at Norfolk and AA Bowie ranked 7th in all of Minor League Baseball.

Joely Rodriguez, LHP

Rodriguez worked four scoreless innings in relief of Jhan Marinez, retiring the first eleven batters he faced. His fastball consistently sat between 92-94 mph during all four innings (touching 96) and he effectively mixed in a sweeping curveball at 82-83 mph to left-handed batters and a cutter/slider to righties at 89 mph. The 26-year-old Rodriguez was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Pirates in 2009 and spent time in the major leagues with the Phillies in 2016 and 2017.



6:35 p.m. Wednesday, 5/16 vs. Indianapolis

Probable Pitchers:

IND: J.T. Brubaker (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

NOR: Yefry Ramirez (1-2, 4.54 ERA)*

*Rated the Orioles’ No. 17 prospect by MLB.com

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Tuesday’s O’s Links: Winning – More Fun than Losing

Manny Machado swings in the on-deck circle.

For what seems like the first time all season, we’ve actually had some fun baseball to watch since the last time we spoke here. Definitely at least since the four-game set in the Bronx in early April, right? The Birds took three of four over three days against the Tampa Bay Rays, capped with a Mother’s Day Massacre of their own, a 17-1 thrashing on Sunday. After taking the final two against KC in the previous series, the O’s have now won five of their last six contests, something they hadn’t accomplished since last August.

Whether or not they can keep it rolling – and whether or not we should really hope that they do – remains to be seen. For now, at least, it was a very welcome change.

To the links!

Bird’s Eye View Episode 237: 5-6-7-8

As they do every May, Jake & Scott hand the mics over to their lovely wives for a segment this week. They also dip into the question I hinted at above, about a good week of baseball actually being bad for this organization.

David Hess was Fine, and that’s a Good Thing

David Hess made his MLB debut on Saturday, allowing a three-run home run in the first inning before setting down and shutting Tampa down over the remainder of his six innings. Camden Depot’s Matt Kremnitzer says that it sure would be nice if one of these number-five-ish type starting pitcher candidates could actually stick as such, instead of forcing a move to the bullpen with poor performance.

Gausman Prioritizing Precision Over Power in Early Season Success

Kevin Gausman has been really good, in case you haven’t noticed (you’d be forgiven if you haven’t. Most haven’t been paying close enough attention lately to notice anything except all the L’s piling up.) Tyler Young of Camden Chat goes into the way Kevin has eschewed being “The Gas Man,” in favor of being “The Off-Speed Man” (doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the same way, does it?) Unfortunately, all I can think is how this is upping his trade value, not how he’s finally becoming an Orioles Ace. Le sigh.

Bundy Feels He’s Found the Fix

Speaking of potential Orioles Aces. Dylan Bundy, huh? After a historically awful start against KC (that followed a string of several very bad and very un-Bundy starts), Dylan was back to Dealin’ against Tampa Bay on Sunday, throwing seven innings of shutout ball. What changed? He wouldn’t really go into specifics, but Jon Meoli has some quotes anyway.

It’s Time to Find Manny Machado a New Home

Sorry to end on a sour note, but here we are. Brandon Warne lists potential Manny suitors for Baltimore Sports & Life, and there are plenty. Listen – if you’re still wearing the thickest orange shades possible, and you really think the O’s have a shot at re-signing Machado, you should STILL want them to trade him in-season this year. He’ll be a free agent anyway. If he really wants to keep playing in Baltimore, and if the Orioles really think they can find the funds to pay him to do so, then he can put pen to paper and be a Bird in 2019 and beyond starting this winter. Wouldn’t he be more inclined to do so if the O’s farm system weren’t nearly as destitute as it currently is?

Trade the Manny. It’s time. Even though…

Cue the Sarah McLaughlin…

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The Rundown: Hess Impressive in Debut, Mountcastle Returns

Ryan Mountcastle prepares to field.

It took almost two months, but the Orioles are actually looking like a decent baseball team, winning five of their last six games. It should be noted that they faced two struggling teams — the Royals and the Rays — but it was fun to watch solid baseball.

A bigger test comes arrives week against the surprising Phillies and the Red Sox.


Hess’ Impressive Debut

In recent years watching Ubaldo Jimenez struggle and more recently Chris Tillman, fans have clamored for better options than running out the same struggling pitchers every five days. Even if it was for one game, David Hess’ performance proved fans correct as the young right-hander was extremely effective against the Rays. After allowing a three-run home run in the first inning, Hess settled down and pitched six innings, allowing only those three runs with three strikeouts.

Hess appears to have earned a second start and it looks like it will take place this weekend against the Red Sox. Outside of struggling in 2016, which caused the right-hander to repeat Double-A, Hess has pitched well at every level. It remains to be seen if that will translate to the big leagues, but at the age of 24 and being in the system since 2014, he should get a few opportunities to prove he can stick.


Wednesday’s Starting Pitcher

Depending on the weather, the O’s will need a starting pitcher on Wednesday and Miguel Castro could be the favorite to get the spot start. Using Castro would at least allow the team to hold off on a roster move, but it would also knock the right-hander out for a few days, which would impact the Red Sox series. Another potential option would be Baysox starter Keegan Akin, who would be working on normal rest. The left-handed prospect has pitched really well this season with a 2.75 ERA and a very impressive 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

Another alternative is veteran right-hander Tim Melville, who pitched effectively in Triple-A with a 2.97 ERA and a 5-0 record. The organization seems to be impressed with the career minor leaguer and he could be the guy the O’s turn to if they don’t want to burn Castro. Melville will also be working on normal rest, which is another check mark.


Mountcastle Returns

After suffering a hairline fracture in his right wrist during spring training, one of the top prospects in the O’s system has returned for the Baysox. In his first four games, Ryan Mountcastle has shown no signs of being limited as he has already collected five hits. We know Mountcastle can hit, but the key will showing he can handle the hot corner. There’s a big void on the big league roster at that position and it doesn’t look like the issue will be resolved any time soon.

I’m hoping the 21-year- old can handle the position as it will solve a lot of issues at that position for the next several seasons. It’s not unrealistic to think Mountcastle will make his debut for the big league team before the end of the season, most likely as a September call-up. If he can’t play third base, the O’s will have another player that is a corner outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter.

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Time for O’s, Tillman to Part Ways

Chris Tillman, Orioles pitcher, wipes his brow with his arm.

I was sitting on the beach on July 4, 2012. The Orioles were playing the Seattle Mariners and had called up Chris Tillman from the minors to make the start against the team that had traded him away in a package with Adam Jones four years prior.

I had seen this scenario before. Tillman gets called up after a strong showing in the minors, does okay, but can’t get out of his own way with elevated pitch counts and ill-placed fastballs when behind in the count. Knowing this, I opted not to pay attention to the game.

As I’m sitting on the beach, I decide to check my phone and notice that Tillman is carrying a one-hitter through six innings. Again, I’ve seen this before.

Who can forget Tillman’s debut a season prior, when he threw six no-hit innings against Tampa Bay but had to be removed because of an elevated pitch count? Or his sparkling no-hitter against Gwinnett in April of 2010? He would tantalize us time and time again, but often times looked like a minor leaguer pitching at the major league level.

This time, however, was different. Tillman lasted 8.1 innings, allowing two unearned runs on two hits, with both runs scoring in the ninth inning. While he would get roughed up in his next outing, Tillman was dominant the remainder of the season, winning nine of his 15 starts while posting a 2.93 ERA.

In the following four seasons, Tillman registered ERAs of 3.71, 3.34, and 3.77 while never winning fewer than 11 games, and the only blip came in 2015 when he pitched to a 4.99 ERA that was misleading. An ankle injury sidelined him for two weeks in the midst of 10-start stretch that season that saw him go 6-0 with a 2.97 ERA and seven quality starts, and basically derailed his season.

In August of 2016, Tillman was having arguably the most dominant season of his career when he was placed on the disabled list with the first signs of a shoulder injury that has seemingly set his career off track. He would return three weeks later and even start the Orioles’ lone playoff game, but it was clear that this was not the same pitcher.

The same shoulder acted up the following offseason and kept Tillman out of action until May 7, 2017. He recorded the win against the White Sox that day with five innings of one-run ball. It would be 22 more starts before he recorded another one.

When Chris Tillman was at his peak, he would use a filthy curveball and solid changeup to set up his low-to-mid 90’s fastball up in the zone. He was a pitcher with a plan, and had the ability to execute that plan.

These days, Tillman still has quality secondary stuff, but his fastball sits at 89 MPH, and I’ve only seen him ramp it up to 91 once or twice. Unless he is spotting his secondary pitches, like he did against Detroit in his seven inning one-hitter last month, his upper 80’s fastball simply will get lit up start after start.

The problem is, Tillman isn’t spotting his secondary stuff with any consistency, which allows opposing batters to sit on that pedestrian fastball, hence the 7.84 ERA last season and the 10.46 ERA this season.

At 29-years-old, pitchers don’t just simply forget how to pitch and lose five MPH off their fastball. Tillman claims he is in good health and feels fine. His stat-line would suggest otherwise. Maybe he needs surgery, or maybe he really has lost it. All I know is he cannot, and should not, make another start for the Baltimore Orioles.

What Chris Tillman did for this franchise from 2012-2016 will never be forgotten. He was the staff ace on the winningest franchise in the American League over those five seasons and helped bring the Orioles back from the “Dark Ages.”

In a time when front offices are finally beginning to realize that you can’t judge a player for what he’s done, but rather for what he will do in the future, it’s time the Orioles do the same.

We’ll never forget you, Chris, but you and the Orioles need to move on.

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Thursday’s O’s Links: Who Will Seize Power in the Warehouse?

Brady Anderson and Dan Duquette talk with a microphone.

Guys, the Orioles won a game! A baseball game! Not like, one Oriole beat another Oriole in ping pong in the clubhouse! They actually played another major-league team and had more runs after nine innings. On top of that, Chris Davis has now homered two nights in a row! Mark Trumbo smoked a rocket single to score the two game-winning runs!

One more win to 10. Dare to dream, Birdland.

To the links.

Orioles Game of Thrones and the Way Forward

Orioles Hangout’s Tony Pente has a new 11-page piece on the past, current, and future state of the Orioles. No offense to the beat writers – who I enjoy and appreciate – but this is better than anything you’ll get from them when it comes to the real behind-the-scenes happenings in The Warehouse. When you have an hour or so, I implore EVERY O’s fan to give this piece an attentive read. I’m going to go through it for the second time today.

Bundy Says He’s Healthy, So What’s Going on With His Command?

Buck says Bundy is healthy. Dylan says he feels fine. So what the heck is up?

A Bad Day at Work

I much prefer Jeff Sullivan when he’s writing about how good – not how historically awful – Dylan Bundy is. Still, you know my rule about linking any time Jeff writes about the Birds. Hold your nose and dive in.

Going Yard Episode 6: Bill Swaggerty, A Talk with a World Series Champion

We’ve seemingly moved on from the Golden Years of not only Buck’s Birds, but from O’s Podcasts. A few years ago, there were a half-dozen or more shows putting out great content on a near-weekly basis. These days, that number has unfortunately dwindled to a handful, so I’m always looking for new ones to pop up and replace the dearly departed members of the O’s Podcast-o-Sphere (RIP Orioles Spastics & Baltimorons). The Going Yard show is only on episode 6. This was the first one I listened to, and I enjoyed it. Though it seems that they’ll have a lot of general MLB talk, they’re O’s fans, so I’ll give them a few episodes – embrace the homerism, fellas! Anyway, give Dan & Tyler a listen.

God Help the Orioles, Who Must Trade Manny Machado and Blow It Up

Sports Illustrated on how everything has gone so very wrong for the Birds this season, and – as we all know – how they must immediately start selling.

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Thursday Thoughts: O’s Need a Plan for Front Office Future – Now!

Manny Machado & Jonathan Schoop.

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. As of last year, I cut it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver/€“Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. It took me a minute to grasp, but I figured out that since April 21, there have been the same number of no-hitters in Major League Baseball as there have been Orioles wins (three). That’s how it’s been going for the Birds.

The Orioles are going to realize soon that it just isn’t in the cards for them this season. Everyone else in the world has known this for quite some time, but they’ll come around. By Memorial Day, which is when Dan Duquette said evaluation would really start, the O’s will start making it known that they are shopping certain players.

The problem is, this franchise moves at a snail’s pace. I wouldn’t expect any big trades in the month of May, but by mid-June there could very well be some action with some of the bigger names. The biggest issue for this team isn’t that they have underperformed or came into the season with a lack of talent needed to compete. It’s that they don’t have a plan or vision.

I say that I trust the Orioles will come around to realizing they aren’t competing this season, but truthfully no one knows who is making that call and for what reason. Duquette and Buck Showalter are both on expiring contracts. There is literally no plan in place for next season’s leadership from within the team. Before anything happens in terms of a trade or plan for the future, the O’s need to make clear that they know who will be making the plan for the future.

That’s the most important step for them to take, no matter how many games they fail to win.

2. Darren O’Day’s latest injury provides another dent in an already thin bullpen. The Norfolk shuttle continues to get work because of it. O’Day has now made four trips to the disabled list since signing his new deal in the winter of 2015. If he’s able to get back and provide any kind of capable relief work before the trade deadline, the O’s should absolutely be shopping him.

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GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

Frankly, we could be saying that about any player currently on the 25-man roster. O’Day still has one year of team control after this one, but the Birds may have to agree to eat some of his $9-million salary in order to make a trade work. Frankly, that’s how the Orioles are going to get anything in return on any trade they make this season. Eating money will help the return.

They should be doing everything they can to completely blow up the bullpen, which has been a strength in years past.

3. Dylan Bundy’s historically bad outing on Tuesday night was a stark reminder of how cruel baseball can be. But it’s not going to stop me from believing that Bundy can be a really good pitcher. He’s had three absolutely abysmal starts after opening the year with five very good starts. He’s also still just 25 years old and in his second full season as a starter. There’s no white flag when it comes to his ability or talent.

That said, he’s like everyone else on this roster. He’s expendable, and should be treated as such. The reason Bundy’s struggles are so difficult to stomach is that they lower his value to any other club. Though I highly doubt the Orioles would dare think of trading him, they should be. They should be thinking about trading any and every player with any kind of value.

Bundy has to pitch better to regain that value, but it’s in there somewhere.

4. Speaking of value, the Orioles need to be reminded that they won’t be getting much for anyone that they decide to trade. That includes Manny Machado and Zach Britton. My big fear, and this is a very real possibility, is that the Orioles don’t see a match with a team for many of their players because they don’t think they are getting enough. They have to know that they will be accepting pennies on the dollar for any player at this point.

Whether it’s Machado and Britton, who both have expiring contracts, or Jonathan Schoop, who is limited in what he can do, the O’s aren’t getting the haul they expect. It’s just not happening.

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Series Preview: Orioles (8-26) vs. Royals (11-23)

sunset view of oriole park at camden yards

After going winless during their six-game stay on the West Coast, the Orioles will now return home to take on the Royals over a three-game set.

The Orioles (8-26) will also be hoping that their upcoming nine-game home stand can help them climb out of the darkness. They’ve now dropped ten of their last twelve contests and have ended up in the win column just four times over their last 24 games. As a result, the O’s now dwell in the cellar of both the division and the American League.

The Royals (11-23) also started out on a miserable note by going 5-20 through the first 25 games of 2018, but have rebounded as of late by winning six of their last nine contests. Now fully healthy for the first time all season, the Royals should be confident coming into town after taking three of four against Detroit over the weekend.

Dylan Bundy (1-4, 3.76 ERA) will take on Danny Duffy (0-4, 5.63 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.

Bundy was rocked during his outing in Los Angeles and exited the game after allowing seven runs (five earned) over just 4 1/3 innings. The Orioles ace has seen a drop-off in form as of late, and as a result of two consecutive subpar starts in which he’s allowed twelve earned runs over a combined nine innings, his ERA has jumped from 1.42 to 3.76.

Duffy saw his rough start to the 2018 campaign continue after allowing five runs on ten hits over six innings in his last start versus Boston. He’s now turned in a quality start just twice in seven attempts and has allowed four or more runs on four of those occasions.

Andrew Cashner (1-4, 4.89 ERA) will take the mound against Eric Skoglund (1-2, 6.84 ERA) on Wednesday.

Cashner allowed three runs on six hits over just 4 2/3 innings during his last start in Oakland, but took the no-decision in the O’s 6-4 loss. Cashner has also seen his form trend in the wrong direction as of late and has allowed thirteen runs over his last 14 2/3 innings.

Skoglund coughed up five runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings during his last start against the Tigers, but took the no-decision. Skoglund hasn’t had the best of starts to his rookie campaign and has recorded just one quality start on the year while allowing four-plus runs in four of his five contests.

Kevin Gausman (2-2, 3.30 ERA) will match-up with Ian Kennedy (1-3, 2.92 ERA) in the series finale on Thursday.

Update 3:45 PM:

Gausman turned in an incredible performance en route to holding the Athletics to just two hits over nine stellar shutout innings during his last start, but the O’s stagnant offense couldn’t put up a single run in order to give him the complete-game shutout that he deserved in an eventual 2-0 Orioles loss.

Gausman has been in sparkling form as of late and after his gem in the Bay Area, he has now allowed just five runs over his last 28 2/3 innings of work. In addition, after allowing six runs over four innings during his season debut, the Orioles flamethrower has posted a spectacular 2.27 ERA over 39 2/3 innings in his six starts since.

Kennedy also took a tough no-decision in his last start despite throwing six shutout innings versus Detroit. The former Yankee has been pretty outstanding in the early goings this season by notching five quality starts in seven attempts while allowing one run or less on four separate occasions.


That’s it for now, folks!

Here’s to getting back in the win column.

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Tuesday’s O’s Links: 0-Tel California

Pedro Araujo walks off the mound as the A's celebrate behind him.

After another winless road trip (their second already this season), and with a day off, many folks thought the Orioles would make some sort of management or front office shake-up yesterday. HA! Those people haven’t been following the Orioles for very long. We know better.

To those oh, so uplifting links.

Feels Like the Perfect “Fall” Day in Baltimore

Like I said, many expected someone to get the axe yesterday. Most normal organizations would fire somebody if the team got off to the awful start the O’s did. The Orioles are not most, or normal, or even that organized. Dan Connolly runs down the list of potential sacrificial lambs, saying each would maybe – but probably wouldn’t – be fired.

Bird’s Eye View Episode 236: Cellar Notes

Jake and Scott treat us to perhaps the most depressing Bird’s Eye View twisted tune to date, go through an inspired segment appropriately titled “Cellar Notes” in trying to figure out how in the hell THIS is the worst O’s team they’ve ever seen, and more.

Richard Bleier’s Run Continues

Let’s break up the awful with a speck of good, shall we? Richard Bleier has continued to be ridiculously reliable. Matt Kremnitzer of Camden Depot just can’t get enough of ol’ Rich, and it’s hard to blame him. Especially right now.

Are the Orioles Closer to a Manny Machado Trade?

Britt Ghiroli answers some questions, including the one that’s on everyone’s mind. I thought this was an interesting point, by Mike Petriello:

They’ll get MORE for Manny right now than they will at the end of July. Just do it, man. Rip off the damn band-aid.

Bundy and Gausman Continue to Impress

Let’s end on a high(ish) note, since we’re not total masochists (though you’d never know it from the choices we make – like what MLB team to cheer for). Our own Andrew Stetka, in his weekly MASN guest column, praises Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, who at least give us some small reason to tune in two out of every five nights.


A little housekeeping note: Unless things turn around, we’ll probably do these links on Tuesdays and Thursdays going forward, rather than on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. It works better with my schedule anyway, and throw in the fact that finding ~15 things about these Orioles that fans actually WANT to read per week is getting harder and harder? Continuing the current schedule made about as much sense as well…keeping the current front office and coaching staff on hand. Luckily for you, ESR isn’t the Orioles. We let our editorial folks actually make editorial decisions.

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