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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles’ rotation is probably in trouble

The Orioles’ top three starting pitchers have a combined 10.27 ERA this spring. This may or may not be an omen for the regular season.

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MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Are you getting spring training fatigue yet? I am.

It happens every year. When the Grapefruit League schedule starts, I’m all, “Woohoo! Baseball is back!” (If you were so inclined, you could probably find my Bird Droppings posts from like two weeks ago where I said exactly that.) At first, I’m following every update, tracking every box score for every exhibition game. Then it only takes about a week for my mood to shift to, “OK, we get it, guys are playing baseball. Can we move on to the games that actually count?”

Alas, the Orioles still have 12 more Grapefruit League games to go before they wrap up their stint in Sarasota this year. That may be a good thing for their starting pitchers, who right now don’t look at all like they’re ready for the regular season.

Dylan Bundy yesterday became the first O’s starter to go five innings this spring. That’s good! But he was tagged for seven hits and four runs, and he certainly didn’t look like he was fooling hitters from what I saw of the game on MASN. Bundy’s velocity is still topping out in the low 90s and he’s not missing a lot of bats. Bundy now has a 10.80 ERA in four Grapefruit League starts.

Meanwhile, Opening Day starter Alex Cobb has given up five runs in 3.2 innings in two abbreviated starts, while No. 3 starter Andrew Cashner has allowed eight runs in 8.1 innings. And these are just the starters we know will be in the rotation. The No. 4 and 5 spots are still up for grabs, and if you want to know how that competition is going, Mike Wright is currently in line to win a spot. So...things aren’t great.

Granted, it’s only spring training. Stats don’t matter. Pitchers are shaking off the rust and stretching themselves out. Maybe once the regular season starts, the O’s rotation will be perfectly adequate. But I wouldn’t count on it.


Updating Núñez and wrapping up a 7-6 loss - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko recaps yesterday’s spring training action, including Renato Nunez leaving the game with a bruised left shin. As if Renato’s spring wasn’t already going badly enough.

Despite 2018 acclaim, Cedric Mullins must fight for Orioles job in 2019 -
He hit a leadoff home run yesterday, but Cedric Mullins could be playing his way out of a starting role with his cold spring at the plate. Notably, Austin Hays started in center field yesterday, with Mullins in left.

Is the key to unlocking Trey Mancini’s potential is to get him out of left field? – The Athletic
I don’t know if moving Mancini to another position will unlock his potential, but it’ll certainly keep me from cringing every time a ball is hit to left field.

Going Deep: Austin Hays is a Sleeper ROY Candidate – Pitcher List
Nick Gerli offers an excellent deep dive into Austin Hays and his potential to be a breakout candidate in 2019. Hays kind of became a forgotten man last year, but I’m salivating at the thought of him returning to his 2017 form.

MLB, MLBPA ANNOUNCE ON-FIELD AGREEMENT - The Official Site of Major League Baseball Players Association
Not Orioles specific, but MLB announced a number of rule changes yesterday, including the elimination of the August trade deadline (starting this year) and the three-batter rule for pitchers (starting next year). What say you? Which new rules jump out at you, good or bad?

Orioles birthdays

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share a birthday with newly minted Hall of Famer Harold Baines, who turns 60. The Easton, Md. native had multiple stints with the Orioles, playing in Baltimore from 1993-95, 1997-99, and 2000. While I wouldn’t have voted for him for the Hall, Baines was a professional hitter through and through, batting .301 with an .881 OPS — and a delightful .379 OBP — in his seven years with the O’s. He even made the All-Star team as a 40-year-old for the Birds in 1999. Watching Baines’ smooth swing was one of my favorite parts of my childhood O’s fandom.

Other ex-Orioles with birthdays today are 2007-08 utility man Freddie Bynum (39) and 1993 third baseman Mike Pagliarulo (59). They are not Hall of Famers.