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Three Up, Three Down: A Midsummer Night’s Offensive Drought

Grayson Rodriguez start in Toronto
photo: Baltimore Orioles (
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As the dog days of summer have rolled on here into mid-August, our Baltimore Orioles find themselves treading water, but remaining atop the American League East. The offense has gone a bit stagnant during this latest 6-5 stretch, and while they’ve faced some of MLB’s top pitching staffs, that’s exactly who they’re likely to see in October. So, best to get these struggles out of the way now.

Let’s see who’s been UP and who’s been DOWN over the past two weeks.

Three Up

Ryan Mountcastle

What more can you say about Ryan Mountcastle? Among O’s regulars (players with at least 36 PA), he’s the only one with a wRC+ above 100 over the last 11 games, at 141 (.295/.367/.500). Our Jared Pinder had a nice feature on Ryan earlier this week:

First-Place O’s Carried by Ryan Mountcastle’s Resurgence

In August, Mountcastle is up to .407/.476/.611, with two doubles, three homers, nine driven in, and eight walks to 15 strikeouts, a 202 wRC+. Adley Rutschman is the only other Oriole above 100 (105) in that time.

In short, he’s been carrying the squad all month. It’s awesome, but he needs some help, and soon.

Grayson Rodriguez

Grayson Rodriguez looks to be emerging as the top-of-the-rotation arm we’ve long hoped he could be. In two starts spanning 13.0 IP, Grayson gassed things up to the tune of just three earned runs on nine hits, with 10 strikeouts to three walks. He posted a 2.08 ERA, 3.65 FIP, and 4.29 xFIP. He’s posted three quality starts in his last four times out, but with the O’s having an off day yesterday and their new six-man rotation, he won’t get to face the lowly Oakland Athletics this weekend. He’ll next toe the rubber on Tuesday against Toronto, looking to build upon the 5.2 IP/3 ER (thanks to Mount Fuji’s eruption) he dealt against them on August 2.

Kyle Bradish

With the offense gone missing, it’s only appropriate that we highlight two pitchers in our UP section for what I believe is the first time all season. Though he didn’t allow a run against the Mets two Sundays ago, Kyle Bradish managed just 4.2 IP that day, thanks to an elevated pitch count. He followed that up with 6.0 IP against Seattle last Sunday, allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking only one. That’s a 1.69 ERA, 2.98 FIP, and 3.44 xFIP over two starts spanning 10.2 innings, both Orioles wins.

Though he was a bit unlucky with a .308 BABIP against (Rodriguez’s was just .222), his 10.1 K/9 more than made up for it. For the season, Bradish sports a nifty 3.18 ERA over 121.2 IP.

Honorable Mentions

Cole Irvin, James McCann, Jacob Webb, Cionel Perez, Yennier Cano

Three Down

Gunnar Henderson

The dog days of summer have been particularly unkind to the Orioles’ Rookie of the Year candidate, Gunnar Henderson. Despite being second on the team in plate appearances with 50, Gunnar has reached base just 12 times in the last two weeks, batting .196/.240/.326 with three doubles and a single home run, good for a wRC+ of 51.

Hopefully his bases-clearing double in Monday’s win in San Diego got him going a bit, as he had hits in all three games against the Padres. The bad news is that he struck out six times in those contests, while walking just once. In August, he’s gone down on strikes 17 times while drawing just three free passes. In June, he had a 6:1 K:BB ratio and still managed to post a .994 OPS, so the ratio isn’t disqualifying in itself. Gunnar has been victimized by BABIP a bit lately (.250 over the last 11 games vs. .292 on the season), and his Statcast numbers remain impressive.

Hopefully just a blip in a season that ends in some hardware for The Gunn Show.

Anthony Santander

Tony Taters, where have you gone? Anthony Santander is another Oriole bat mired in the doldrums at the moment, batting just .158/.267/.342 with two homers and three RBI over the last 11 (68 wRC+). Unlike Gunnar’s mild BABIP problems, Santander’s are glaring, at .148 over the 45 PA. Santander has put up an OPS of just .644 so far in August, reminiscent of his terrible May (.630).

No need to dwell on it too much. We know Tony, like many of his teammates, is quite a streaky hitter. Here’s to his BABIP luck reversing into a nice little hot streak here shortly.

Kyle Gibson

Last year, Kyle Gibson made 31 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies, but made just two appearances, both out of the bullpen, during their October run to the World Series. We may be starting to get a glimpse of why that happened here in Baltimore. At the end of May, Gibson’s ERA was a respectable 3.82. Now, here in August, it’s ballooned to 4.89 following an especially dreadful outing last Friday in Seattle where he allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits and three home runs in 5.1. To be fair to Gibby, we need to point out that he’d posted four consecutive quality starts prior to that outing against the M’s. They also tagged him for five ER in 3.0 IP back on June 23, so maybe Seattle just has his number.

The fact remains that he’s allowed four or more earned runs in half of his past 10 starts. Is that the kind of volatility you can trust in a playoff start?

Gibby will look to bounce back against the A’s tonight.

Dishonorable Mentions

Jack Flaherty, Shintaro Fujinami, Mike Baumann, Adam Frazier, Cedric Mullins (Sunday’s heroics notwithstanding)

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