It was a week of great baseball games played by our Baltimore Orioles, and they managed to come away with a 3-3 split against the best teams in both the American and National Leagues. It was the pitching that really stepped up, as the bats were held down by two extremely talented staffs. The Rays boast MLB’s best ERA by far at 2.95, and the Atlanta Braves are sixth at 3.52. Though the Birds are just 16th (4.24), they allowed only 18 runs over the past six games (3.0 per game), while scoring 21 (3.5 per game).
The O’s have a well-deserved off day today before welcoming another first place team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, to town. Though they remain atop the NL Central, the Buccos have lost nine of their last 10. Here’s hoping the good guys can remain as focused against a scuttling squad.
Let’s see who made our UP and DOWN categories this week.
Mean Dean! The only Oriole to make two starts this week, Dean Kremer came away with two shiny new victories and is now 4-1 in 2023. Over his first six starts, Kremer pitched to an ERA of 6.67, allowing four or five earned runs every time out save for one, his 6.2 scoreless on April 18 in Washington. So it looked like a bit of a mismatch when he drew the Braves’ Max Fried and his 0.45 ERA on Friday night.
Kremer shoved though, silencing Atlanta’s bats to the tune of one run on six hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. Against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night, he was even better, shutting out the Rays over six innings on four hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.
Kremer has slightly raised his K/9 from last season so far, from 6.25 to 6.91, but his walks have risen as well, from 2.44 to 2.81. His Statcast peripherals are…less than promising, if we’re being honest. Still, 12.0 innings pitched, 10 hits, 1 ER, 0 HR, and a 0.75 ERA against those two squads? That speaks for itself, fancy-schmancy high-tech stats be damned.
Mean Dean was very much UP for the challenge this week. Let’s hope it continues.
This freakin’ guy! Every week we ask “what else can we say about him,” and every week he stomps through the bullpen doors and demands we say more about him!
Yennier Cano just continues to make major league hitters look absolutely silly, and it’s bordering on ridiculous. Appearing in three games and pitching 4.2 innings, Cano allowed a solitary baserunner (a single), and struck out six of the 13 batters he faced. Of the other seven, only one managed to hit the ball in the air (Wander Franco), as he induced six groundouts (with a double play ball in there). Last night against the Rays, Cano picked up his third save of the season (spelling the suddenly-very-wild Felix Bautista), helping the Birds clinch the series victory over the AL East leaders.
His Statcast page is hilarious, his staredown of batters amazing, and his dominance utterly absurd.
Yennier Cano of the @Orioles has a WHIP of 0.16 in 14 appearances this year.
That's the lowest WHIP by any MLB pitcher over any span of 14 appearances in the modern era (minimum 50 outs recorded). pic.twitter.com/Sv003gqLz9
— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) May 11, 2023
I think Mike Elias has been vindicated for the Jorge Lopez trade.
Anthony Santander debuted on the UP list last week, and kept it going against the Braves and Rays, with a 233 wRC+ over 26 plate appearances. Santander has a hit in every game in May so far (a nine-game hitting streak), and overall is 15-for-38 this month, with four doubles, three homers, and nine driven in.
Last week, I mentioned being a bit puzzled at some of Santander’s StatCast numbers, namely the “expected” metrics. However, just about everything has improved since then, including those.
Avg Exit Velocity: 71 -> 84
HardHit%: 82 -> 94
xwOBA: 22 -> 41
xBA: 12 -> 25
xSLG: 31 -> 55
Barrel%: 50 -> 67
Things continue to trend in the right direction for Slamtander.
After an absolutely blistering April (.333/.377/.667) that had all of Birdland abuzz about toe taps and the idea that Jackson Holliday might have some competition for the Oriole Shortstop of the Future position, Jorge Mateo has fallen off a cliff to start May. A home run in Detroit on April 30 pushed his season slugging percentage to .667, and it has since fallen 115 points to .515. Jorge is just 4-for-31 in May with one XBH (a double), and has struck out 12 times, matching his total for April in more than twice as many AB.
He had a -40 wRC+ over 20 plate appearances against the Braves and Rays, and struck out in 40% of his at bats. He took some terrible ABs lately, and his swing decisions seem to have gotten exponentially worse. Of course, that .182 BABIP this week did him no favors.
We’ve seen Mateo be better, and very recently. We’ll hope for a return to that version of Jorge as he breaks out of this slump.
Ah, Gunnar, man. This poor guy. Just when it looks like he is ready to break out (he crushed a HR in Kansas City Thursday, then had a hit Friday Atlanta, giving him hits in back-to-back games for just the second time this season), he runs into the wrath of the cruel baseball gods yet again.
His at bats remain competitive (he is fourth in MLB in BB%, ninth in the AL in pitches seen per PA), he seems to be hitting the ball harder (he had a 99.7 MPH lineout and a 102 MPH groundout last night), but the hits just aren’t falling. His BABIP was .167 for the week, and remains underground at .241 this season.
You have to wonder how much longer the 21-year-old can remain patient and consistent with his approach, with those baseball gods chortling above him. With Ramon Urias on the IL, and consistent starts at third base in his immediate future, we’ll remain optimistic that Henderson’s luck turns around soon.
For this week though, he remains down bad.
Mike Baumann didn’t do much to help the squad this week. He had a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 IP in April, but has had quite a rough start to May, allowing three earned in just 0.2 IP in the opener in Kansas City last Tuesday. On Friday in Atlanta, backing up Kremer’s aforementioned good start, and with the bats having just exploded for a seven-run frame and a 9-1 lead, Baumann pitched a clean seventh inning, but then went walk, flyout, single, three-run HR, in the eighth before being pulled for Keegan Akin. That brought his total to six earned runs in two innings over his last two appearances.
On Sunday he did his job, retiring three of the four batters he faced while allowing a walk in the extra-inning loss. Tuesday against Tampa he got another shot and was completely unacceptable. The O’s led 4-2 in the sixth, and Grayson Rodriguez had recorded outs in that frame for the first time as a major leaguer. He was pulled for Baumann after a two-out single, and Mike promptly walked the first batter he faced then uncorked a wild pitch to the second. Fortunately, he induced a groundout to end the inning.
Back out for the seventh, with the score still 4-2, Baumann walked the leadoff batter. He was yanked for Yennier Cano, who of course cleaned things up.
Baumann’s ERA has gone from 0.61 to 3.79 over his past five appearances. Dillon Tate and Mychal Givens are soon to be breathing down his neck, especially with Austin Voth‘s resurgence of late. He needs to regain his command, and quickly.