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Did We Underestimate Jorge Mateo?

Jorge Mateo home run chain
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This week was a breath of fresh air for the Orioles. They managed to go 5-2, and the level of baseball the O’s are playing right now has fans and players oozing confidence. That confidence showed the most during Sunday’s game. They were down 4-0 in the first inning, and with Dylan Cease on the mound, they could have just laid down and died, but they didn’t. They worked some counts, got some clutch hits, stole bases, and got Cease up to 111 pitches. Then they scored more runs off that bad White Sox bullpen and put a bow on an amazing comeback win.

To say this week was needed would be an understatement. This was precisely what the doctor ordered, so here are five reactions to this week of baseball.

Adley is Our Heart and Soul

This team had a great week, but none of it would be possible without Adley Rutschman. Adley is having a fantastic year, as is obvious; what does need to be said is that this team goes where Adley goes.

If he is hitting, the whole team hits; if he isn’t, then the entire team doesn’t. He is just putting the team on his back and leading them to victories over and over. He had a walk-off home run against the A’s and then a clutch bases-loaded double in the first game in Chicago. The team didn’t score until that double, which also came on two strikes. Adley just seems like he has ice water in his veins.

During this stretch, he has struck out just twice to go with ten walks. No, those numbers aren’t made up; those are real. Opposing teams can’t get Adley out right now, and they are just giving up in some cases.

Make no mistake, as long as Adley is doing this, this offense isn’t going anywhere.

Mateo Deserves more Respect

Tell me who leads the Orioles in bWar this year. Adley? Good guess, but the answer is actually Jorge Mateo, just like we all expected.

Mateo has been on a scorching stretch right now and is answering all the questions about his offense. We knew he was a great defender and base stealer, but he didn’t hit well last year. This year he is smashing baseballs. He has hit five above 109.6 MPH in his previous four starts. On Saturday, he hit a ball at 112.4 MPH, which is considered elite exit velocity. What is crazy is that five of his seven hardest-hit baseballs have come in these last few starts.

Hitting the ball hard doesn’t do it for you? Ok, how about on OBP? Mateo has a .431 OBP, which is considered great. This stretch of getting on base has led to a ton of stolen bases, nine to be exact. He still has his defense from last year as well and is still a menace on the base paths. If you look at his Baseball Savant page, you will see a ton of red. Mateo is outperforming everybody’s expectations this year.

Bautista is Still on Mountain Time

Felix Bautista had a tough start to his season, and it wasn’t even his fault. In that Boston series, the fielders did nothing but hurt him, which led to a dramatic blown save in the second game of the season. How a pitcher, especially a closer, responds to adversity is essential, and Felix has done nothing but impress since then.

Since that Adam Duvall walk-off, Felix has struck out thirteen, walked two, only given up two hits, and hasn’t allowed a run. Felix could have crumbled after his teammates let him down; luckily, it wasn’t enough to take down the mountain, and he is still devastating batters with a 100 mph fastball and disappearing splitter.

The New Names in the Bullpen are Stepping Up

The Orioles bullpen has gotten a bit of a bad rap early in the year. The ERAs are much higher than we’d like, but there is a reason for this. Mainly Austin Voth, who shouldn’t be on this roster, and guys like Keegan Akin and Cionel Perez disappointing. While the bullpen hasn’t been lock down, there are some names outside of Bautista who have held up their end, especially Danny Coulombe and Mike Baumann.

Coulombe has been a total steal for the O’s after they got him for cash towards the end of spring training. His savant page is nothing but red and he has a 1.35 ERA and a 0.45 WHIP. Baumann has 0.96 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. Also, shoutout to Yennier Cano who was excellent in the White Sox series. While some have struggled, these three should not be included in that discussion, and should get more moments in high-leverage situations if others continue to struggle.

Kremer May Follow Irvin’s Path

Last week, after three bad starts, Mike Elias sent down one of his big pitching acquisitions, Cole Irvin. It showed that no matter how much the team has invested, no one is safe if they have options. So the question becomes what happens with Dean Kremer? Kremer has been just as bad, if not worse, than Irvin this year. He gets the next start on Tuesday, but what happens after that if he struggles? Could he be demoted or moved into a different role if he continues to struggle? Kremer was statistically the team’s best starter last year, but how much longer can that carry him? He does have options and he faces a bad Nationals lineup on Tuesday, so maybe he does figure something out, but he’d better hurry. If he struggles again,, he might find himself with Irvin in Triple-A Norfolk.

Looking ahead,, the Birds have a very soft schedule coming up, with two games in Washington followed by a weekend series against the Tigers. This should be a prime opportunity to stack more wins to prepare for the harder part of the schedule in May.

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