It’s a safe assumption to say none of us expected Dan Duquette and the Orioles to do what they did at the trade deadline. If you predicted the acquisitions of both Tim Beckham and Jeremy Hellickson, please make us aware of the upcoming lottery numbers. It was a strange stretch of days, and nobody should blame any of us for being a bit shocked at the result.
On paper, the moves are simple and the organization’s strategy is logical. It might not be the ideal scenario, but the team has made the situation clear — the Orioles are in win-now mode, even if the roster isn’t built for such a mindset.
What has to happen for the team to make the postseason? Ultimately, that’s the question that doesn’t exactly provide a comfortable answer.
If the Orioles win 2/3 games of every remaining three-game series and split every remaining 2 or 4-game set, they will have 85 wins.— Camden Chat (@CamdenChat) August 1, 2017
Does 85 wins even get you anywhere into the postseason? And doesn't it sound crazy enough to hope for that scenario with this rotation?— Camden Chat (@CamdenChat) August 1, 2017
The above tweets sum it up rather well. From the outside looking in, the objective response to that would note that it is absolutely “reasonably crazy”, you might say, to think that the current rotation will provide such win totals. It’s important to keep in mind that every upcoming series won’t be played against the Texas Rangers.
The acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson provides another arm, but it doesn’t do much more than that. He brings with him to Baltimore a 5.50 FIP (a more predictive ERA-type statistic) that has been posted with the help of low strikeout totals.
On the season, Hellickson has a 5.2 K/9 mark, more than two whole strikeouts lower than his worst since 2013. No, he won’t walk many, but will the 4.27 ERA that he’s managed over the past three years in the National League translate well to the American League in the summer?
Optimism is fine — even welcomed, to be honest — but the expectation that Hellickson will provide much of a game-changing boost to this season shouldn’t be largely held.
Outside of Hellickson though, there still might be factors within the rotation that spell potential encouragement, even if they aren’t backed up by any statistic posted this season. Kevin Gausman, realistically, could produce starts that’d differ from the results in the first half of the year. Chris Tillman could do the same.
Even Wade Miley could be due for an uptick in production based on trends alone. Overall, you might be able to package enough “best case scenarios” together to create an encouraging outlook.
But considering everything might have to come together with perfect timing to produce a postseason run, is there enough of a path toward overwhelming turnaround for the rotation?
With the addition of Beckham, there’s certainly a long-term aspect that makes a whole lot of sense. To be sure, he’ll continue to develop and will look to be a factor as the years move along at the shortstop position. For this supposed “window” however, does the trade at all help the Orioles’ prospects of a postseason run?
The former Tampa Bay shortstop has a career .299 on-base percentage in 791 at-bats, striking out about 31 percent of the time and ultimately contributing, by wRC+ and wOBA (two advanced hitting statistics), a below-average presence at the plate.
For a future outlook, we can overlook those numbers and be encouraged that his progression will come at the appropriate time. But for now — again, in this window — is Beckham, even combined with Hellickson, enough to propel the 2017 version of the Orioles to the playoffs?
Both are welcomed additions who will do the Orioles no harm. But considering the organization’s decision to plant both feet into the ground for a postseason run, it has become increasingly difficult to gauge just how good of a chance there is to earn a playoff spot in the American League.
There’s no clear-cut answer and we’ll all have to play the waiting game along with the organization itself. Without being able to see the into the future, there was no true correct answer in terms of what strategy to employ at the trade deadline.
For now, it’s difficult to give an answer in terms of what current expectations are and should be. The additions of Beckham and Hellickson seem harmless, but that’s exactly the issue given the current state of this team. Were the trades enough to create the spark necessary to go on a winning streak?
There’s talent on this roster, and plenty of it that underperformed over the first half of the year. If you’re an optimist, there’s an argument to be made that the season is not lost.
Maybe you’re certain one way or the other. I certainly am not. Though with all of the question marks that exist, maybe the baseball played in the months of August and September won’t be so difficult to watch after all.
Will the Orioles make the playoffs?
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