We last left our simulated Orioles in a bit of a chaotic moment, with Hunter Harvey suffering another injury with an unknown diagnosis, a rotation with no fully-rested starters to start the next game, and a tired bullpen.
Following a combination of suggestions by commenters D. Reese and CamdenWarehouse, David Hess has been summoned from Norfolk in order to be thrown into the soup for an emergency start, with Harvey headed to the injured list. Will the results be a disaster? We’ll find out!
After this set of games, it’s going to be time to get serious to shuffle some of the under-performing players off of the roster. Keep reading for this week’s set of questions for debate.
This week’s results
Game 31: Royals 6, Orioles 3
Yep, it was a disaster! Hess gave up six runs in 4.1 innings while the O’s offense could only muster three runs on their 11 hits. It gets worse, because after this game, our long reliever, Travis Lakins, was diagnosed with forearm inflammation. He’ll miss four months. Miguel Castro, who also pitched, had to leave the game early, but it was a stiff back that cleared up the next day.
The good news is that Harvey’s injury turned out to only be a one day thing. I guess our putting him on the IL was a little premature. Oops. Well, it was needed for the roster. Lakins is headed straight for the 60-day injured list. Sorry, Travis. I don’t think I’ll be thinking about you again until real life baseball resumes. Scrambling on on short notice, I’m grabbing Dillon Tate, the most rested pitcher in Norfolk.
Game 32: Orioles 8, White Sox 3
This was a nail-biter until the ninth inning when Jose Iglesias hit a grand slam to blow things open. He drove in five of the Orioles eight runs. The O’s were helped along against the White Sox - one of the stronger teams in our sim’s league to date - with Wade LeBlanc’s six inning effort with three runs allowed. A minimum quality start, but a quality start nonetheless. A 4.50 ERA looks a lot better than the 2019 rotation’s collective 5.57 ERA.
Along with Iglesias, Renato Nunez and Dwight Smith Jr. had multi-hit games. Chris Davis had a hit and drew a pair of walks. Tate pitched two scoreless innings in his 2020 debut. Good choice, me.
Game 33: White Sox 3, Orioles 2
Our O’s were getting shut out until the ninth inning, when Nunez got them on the board with a two-run homer, his tenth dinger of the season. This is one of those ones it was a shame to lose, because starting pitcher Tommy Milone was fine, giving up just three runs (two earned) in 6.2 innings. White Sox starter Gio Gonzalez was better. Chicago’s pitcher has a 1.24 ERA in the sim after 6.1 scoreless innings here.
Hanser Alberto, sitting in the leadoff spot against the lefty, had two hits in the game, and though each of the batters after him had a hit in the game, none of them ever drove him in.
Game 34: White Sox 7, Orioles 6 (11 innings)
Though the O’s had a 5-1 lead by the time they finished batting in the fourth, they couldn’t hold on. Starting pitcher Asher Wojciechowski gave up four runs over 6.2 innings, though he still left with a 5-4 lead.
The bullpen blew it for him, as Richard Bleier gave up two eighth inning runs. These were the first runs Bleier had surrendered on the year, so we can’t get too mad at him. Down to their last out in the ninth, Rio Ruiz tied things up to eventually send the game into extras, where the White Sox walked off against Tate in the 11th. What idiot called him up, anyway?
Another tough loss with such a good performance from the offense. The O’s batters had a total of 15 hits, including three-hit games from Ruiz and Anthony Santander. Things got dumb in extras, as the O’s had a runner thrown out tagging from first to second in the 10th and one picked off first base in the 11th.
After this game, the Orioles are, for the first time in the sim, rated 30th out of 30 in the game’s generated power rankings.
Game 35: Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3
Orioles batters struck out 13 times in a 7.2 inning outing by Toronto starter Shun Yamaguchi, which you’d normally think would lead to a loss. Austin Hays and Jose Rondon each homered off of Yamaguchi, while John Means had an excellent start, giving up just two runs in seven innings. Nice help for an exhausted bullpen.
Anthony Santander homered in the ninth inning, his ninth homer of the year, which proved crucial when Mychal Givens gave up a solo homer to Derek Fisher in the bottom of the inning. He held on for his sixth save of the season.
Game 36: Orioles 3, Blue Jays 2
The Orioles never trailed in this game after Iglesias led off with his third home run of the season. He went on to add another RBI with a seventh inning double. Alex Cobb was fine as the starter, giving up two runs (one earned) while striking out seven in 5.2 innings, but since the go-ahead run scored after he left, he took a no decision. Paul Fry got the win for holding the line over 2.1 scoreless innings. Tanner Scott added a scoreless ninth for his second 2020 save.
Game 37: Blue Jays 9, Orioles 1
A familiar sort of result for anyone who watched the O’s last year. Starter Wade LeBlanc gave up five runs in the first inning, with three runs scoring on home runs, while the O’s offense mustered just four hits the whole game. Later on, Tate gave up three runs in the seventh inning to make it a complete laugher.
Record: 13-24, 10 games behind Rays
The Orioles continue to have the worst run differential in MLB, at -75. They do not, however, have the worst record, as both the Royals and Pirates sit at 12-24. The simulated quest to get to pick Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker, or whoever, will be a season-long affair.
It’s time to tweak this roster
Two immediate developments. First, DJ Stewart’s rehab assignment has ended and he must be added to the roster or optioned. He batted .284/.360/.507 on his rehab. I’d say he’s earned his way to MLB.
Second, Chris Davis is unable to play with an injury diagnosis that is pending. Though it might be more of a “What would Dan Duquette do?” than a “What would Mike Elias do?” I think it’s time to get Davis on the injured list even if it turns out to be a stubbed toe.
The following hitters have an OPS of .650 or worse: Chance Sisco, Ramon Urias, Rio Ruiz, Jose Rondon, Mason Williams.
The following pitchers have an ERA of 6.00 or worse: Alex Cobb, Wade LeBlanc, Shawn Armstrong, Miguel Castro, David Hess, Tanner Scott, Dillon Tate.
Armstrong, Castro, Rondon, and Williams are out of minor league options.
Call-ups to consider
Some assumptions I’m bringing to this endeavor are that Elias would only look to Norfolk and not Bowie, that he won’t call up any prospect whose 2020 performance to date is poor, or any prospect not already on the 40-man roster this early (next game: May 8).
If a prospect or other minor leaguer you like is not listed below, the reason is that his sim performance so far is not good, unless you’re wondering about Zac Lowther, whose 2.70 ERA and 11.2 K/9 look nice but I just don’t believe Elias would consider him at this juncture since he isn’t on the 40-man and has all of 23.1 innings above Double-A under his belt.
Keegan Akin: 24.2 IP, 0.73 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9.9 K/9
Unfortunately, Akin just threw 107 pitches yesterday, so while I believe he might get called up for this level of play, we’ll have to wait a few days. Poor GMing on my part. As a bonus, if Akin is promoted, Michael Baumann (36.2 IP, 1.96 ERA, 1.04 WHIP in Bowie) can get bumped up into a Norfolk rotation spot without displacing anyone.
Bryan Holaday: .320/.370/.480 in 50 AB
Maybe not right now, but I don’t think Sisco would stay in MLB forever with a sub-.300 OBP. Adding Holaday would require a 40-man roster move.
Ryan Mountcastle: .301/.336/.451 in 113 AB
Would a .787 Norfolk OPS in early May do the trick? Orioles fans, including me, really want to see this guy in Baltimore in real life. I wonder if he might have to wait until later in May here.
Pat Valaika: .300/.364/.600 including 11 HR in 100 AB
I mentioned Valaika last time and I definitely think this would be enough for his time to arrive. The O’s liked him enough to claim him on waivers twice this past offseason, though by the same token, they also showed that they didn’t care about him by putting him on waivers twice. Eleven Norfolk bombs before mid-May seems like it’d get him a big league look, given the roster’s weaknesses. Bringing Valaika to Baltimore would also require a 40-man move.
Andrew Velazquez: .259/.348/.414 in 58 AB
The Orioles claimed him on February 19, probably to have in the fourth outfielder mix. He was an unproven quantity as we started our season since he hadn’t had much time in spring training games for us to become familiar with him. Now, this looks more interesting than what Mason Williams is doing in Baltimore.
What would Mike Elias do?
I’ve got my own assumptions, but I’m open to persuasion. Let me know what’s on your mind about our simulated 2020 Orioles in the comments.