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Checking in with former Orioles around the league

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Things are pretty bleak in Birdland, so why not look elsewhere in MLB for some fun baseball.

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This Orioles team is tough to watch. They have the biggest division deficit and the second-worst record in baseball. This season has made many in Birdland yearn for the competitive O’s of the recent past. Unfortunately, those times have come and gone. We can’t go back, but we can look around the league at how some of the players from those teams are doing and get irrationally upset about it. That’s why the internet was invented.

I find myself over at Baseball Reference searching the names of past Orioles “greats” more often than I would care to admit. So, I figured, why not put together a full post on how some of the more notable former Birds are doing these days? This won’t be a completely exhaustive list of names, but rather the players that jumped out when sifting through the league’s 40-man rosters.

Three Orioles from last season, Seth Smith, Ubaldo Jimenez and J.J. Hardy still find themselves without jobs. Considering that the entire trio is in their mid-30s, it is likely that their collective careers are over. Smith’s unemployment may be the only surprising one. He’s obviously past his prime, but he was solid at the plate in 2017. A spring invite seemed possible for him, but it never happened.

Before we get to the MLB, we have to stop over in Asia to check on some former Birds. Koji Uehara has returned to Japan to finish his professional career. Through 10 games with the Yomiuri Giants, he has a 7.00 ERA, striking out five and walking one in nine innings. In Korea, Hyun-soo Kim and Tyler Wilson are teammates once again on the LG Twins. Wilson is 2-3 with a 3.76 ERA as a member of the rotation. Kim leads the league with 66 hits and 39 runs scored. His .353 batting average isn’t too shabby either. Finally, Logan Verrett is holding onto a starting spot with the NC Dinos despite a 6.49 ERA across 43 innings.

There are three former O’s kicking around the Diamondbacks system. T.J. McFarland has a 1.84 ERA and 3.84 xFIP over 29.1 innings out of the bullpen. Christian Walker has gone back and forth from Arizona to Triple-A a few times already this season. In the bigs, he is slashing .125/.263/.375. Stefan Crichton has joined him in the minors, where his 10.13 ERA has kept him from getting called up to the show yet this season.

Nick Markakis and Ryan Flaherty have reunited as teammates in Atlanta for the best team in the National League. Markakis’ 62 hits lead all of MLB, and his .343 batting average is near the top as well. A hot start to the season has buoyed Flaherty’s .279/.370/.385 offensive output

The only Red Sox player with ties to the O’s is Eduardo Rodriguez. The lefty is 4-1 with a 4.13 ERA, including 5.2 scoreless innings against the Birds on Sunday.

In Chicago, the White Sox have a slew of former Baltimore boys. Miguel González is on the shelf until mid-June with a rotator cuff injury. He is joined on the DL by former Orioles prospect Nicky Delmonico (fractured hand). Welington Castillo is the everyday catcher. He is hitting .260/.306/.471 with six home runs.

The Cubs have a pair of former O’s in their bullpen, and both have been really good. Brian Duensing has a tiny 0.61 ERA over 14.2 innings with 10 walks and 11 strikeouts. Pedro Strop is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA, 19 strikeouts and four walks in 20 innings.

Andrew Miller and Oliver Drake are both in Cleveland’s bullpen at the moment. Miller has had some injury concerns (hamstring, back), but he is still striking guys out in bunches (21 strikeouts in 11.2 innings). Drake began the season in Milwaukee, but struggled to a 6.39 ERA, He has delivered one scoreless appearance since being traded to the Indians.

One of the few bright spots on this season’s Reds team is reliever David Hernandez, who sports a 2.70 ERA (but a 4.46 xFIP) over 13.1 innings.

Gerardo Parra has continued his downward trend since being a brief Oriole in 2015. He has a 75 wRC+ in his third season with the Rockies.

The Dodgers finally received some much-needed help when Justin Turned returned from a fractured hand last week. In the six games since he has been back, Turner is slashing .333/.391/.429.

Jason Hammel is having a tough go of it in Kansas City’s rotation. Through nine starts, the big righty is 0-5 with a 6.28 ERA, 5.28 xFIP and he is only striking out 4.58 hitters per nine innings. The Royals aren’t very good, and Hammel’s contract is guaranteed for 2019 as well, so he will have to stay put.

The contract that the Marlins gave to Wei-Yin Chen is proving to be one of the most underrated yet awful moves in baseball. He’s continued to be bad in 2018. The lefty has already been on the disabled list twice this season. He has only pitched five times and has yet to throw more than 5.1 innings in an outing. His 6.55 ERA has been ballooned by two bad appearances.

Parker Bridwell was a revelation in the Angels rotation last season. Unfortunately, it has not gone as well this year. He was lit up for six earned runs in just 1.2 innings in his lone start for Anaheim, while struggling in Triple-A and hitting the DL twice. Jim Johnson has been able to stick in the ‘pen after coming to the Angels in an offseason trade with the Braves. It’s hard to believe it has been five seasons since he was an Oriole.

The Brewers have four former Baltimore pitchers. Josh Hader has been the one grabbing headlines as he has become one of the best relievers in baseball. The southpaw has struck out 56 batters in just 27.1 innings of work and compiled a 308 ERA+. Matt Albers has continued to have a quietly successful relief career. Through 21 innings this season, he has a 1.29 ERA and 3.79 xFIP. Alec Asher is a frequent rider of the minor league shuttle, but does have two scoreless innings for the Brewers this season. Wade Miley was just sent to the 60-day DL with an oblique strain. Before that, he had started twice for Milwaukee and allowed just one run over 6.1 innings.

Jake Arrieta has his mojo back in Philadelphia, or he is getting a tad lucky. Through eight starts Arrieta is 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA, 4.26 xFIP, .246 BABIP and striking out 5.64 per nine innings. Tommy Hunter is plugging away in the Phillies ‘pen after starting the year on the DL. Pedro Florimon may be the best two-way player in the league outside of Shohei Ohtani. The shortstop is hitting .280/.345/.520 and has made two appearances out of the bullpen this season.

In order to have the privilege of watching Travis Snider play baseball, the O’s sent Steven Brault to the Pirates. Snider is out of affiliated ball. Brault has a 4.64 ERA in Pittsburgh. Richard Rodriguez was a disaster in five games for the Orioles last summer. Now, he’s striking everyone out for the Buccos. Over 17.2 innings, Rodriguez has 30 punch outs.

It’s been a difficult season for Nelson Cruz with the Mariners. His batting line of .228/.319/.441 isn’t what many have come to expect from the slugger. Perhaps time is finally catching up to the 37-year-old. Ariel Miranda is currently with Triple-A Tacoma, but delivered a nice five inning, one-run cameo in April.

Chaz Roe and Vidal Nuño are with the Rays organization. Roe has a 4.76 ERA over 23 games in Tampa. Nuño has a 3.57 ERA in eight games (seven as a starter) for Durham.

Nick Hundley has been productive as Buster Posey’s back up with the Giants. The former AL East champion already has five home runs in just 79 plate appearances while slashing .267/.304/.520.

Believe it or not, Yovani Gallardo is still a professional baseball player. He was released by the Brewers prior to the season, and then by the Reds on April 12, but has managed to latch back on with the Rangers. The righty is currently in Triple-A after allowing eight runs in just 2.1 innings of bullpen work for the Reds.

It’s possible that Bud Norris has finally found his calling as the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals. The 33-year-old is a perfect nine-for-nine on save attempts, and he has struck out 31 in 22.1 innings. Norris always had sort of a reliever mentality, and he seems to have made the transition with little trouble. Elsewhere with the Cards, Francisco Peña has been a steady defensive backup for Yadier Molina.

Steve Pearce has been on the DL with an oblique injury since the beginning of May. Prior to that he was hitting .273/.333/.485 to go along with below-average defense for the Blues Jays.

We will wrap up the trip around the league with the Nationals, who have four former Birds at or near the major league level. Edwin Jackson has a 3.71 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse. Matt Wieters recently underwent hamstring surgery, which is a shame since he had bounced back from a disappointing 2017 with better numbers at the plate (.231/.342/.385) and continued success with the glove. Mark Reynolds is back in the bigs after going unwanted all winter. He smacked two dongs in his Nationals debut and is hitting .385 overall. Jeremy Hellickson has shook whatever was troubling him in Baltimore at the end of last season to be fantastic in D.C. Over six starts, Hellickson has a 2.20 ERA and 3.29 xFIP in 32.2 innings.

This post will be a lot more painful to do next season, or later this year, when Manny Machado is hitting doubles and dongs for someone other than the orange and black.