When last we left our simulated Orioles, things weren’t going too great and it was time to figure out whether anything would be done about that if the real O’s were facing a similar situation. The result is that as the O’s start a home series against the Angels, these moves were made:
- Chris Davis placed on the 15-day injured list (injury diagnosis pending)
- DJ Stewart activated from the injured list
- Jose Rondon designated for assignment
- Pat Valaika contract selected from Norfolk (.300/.364/.660 with 11 HR in AAA)
Additionally, Keegan Akin will be making his next start in Baltimore. We’re just not calling him up when he’s just thrown 107 pitches. At that time, Wade LeBlanc will be bounced from the rotation and either Dillon Tate or David Hess will be sent to Norfolk.
After a lot of debate in the last post among our readers, and more agony than I probably should have spent myself, I’ve decided to hold off on promoting Ryan Mountcastle for a little while longer. I just can’t convince myself that a .301/.336/.451 Triple-A batting line would get him an early May call-up. I’ll be tracking his progress.
This week’s games
Game 38: Orioles 6, Angels 5 (11 innings)
We’ve got a walkoff! Every Oriole in the starting lineup had a hit, but it was an Oriole-esque clown show from the Angels that gave the O’s a walkoff. In the 11th, DJ Stewart struck out but reached on a dropped third strike. Stewart went first-to-third on a single to right field where LA’s Shohei Ohtani hurt himself making the throw. Then, with two outs, Jose Iglesias sent everyone home on a single up the middle.
The extra innings win takes some of the thing off of Mychal Givens blowing a save chance by giving up two ninth inning runs. The O’s took a lead into the ninth inning thanks to scoring five runs off of former Oriole Dylan Bundy, while their own starter, Tommy Milone, was OK, giving up three runs in 5.2 innings. Iglesias, Hanser Alberto, and the just-promoted Valaika had two hits apiece.
Injury update: Chris Davis has been diagnosed with a broken kneecap. He will miss 8-9 months. He’s on the 60-day injured list now to clear a 40-man spot. As far as this sim goes, we won’t have to worry about him again.
Game 39: Orioles 8, Angels 6
Iglesias is on fire right now, following up his walkoff with a three-hit game where he drove in six runs, including a grand slam. Despite that grand slam, the Orioles trailed for much of the game, only taking the lead in the seventh inning when Rio Ruiz got a clutch hit against the Angels bullpen.
Both teams committed two errors in the game. The O’s were able to score four unearned runs and only had two unearned runs themselves. It made the difference. Givens, a day after blowing the save, got right back on the horse and pitched a scoreless ninth for his seventh save of the season.
Injury update: Starting pitcher Asher Wojciechowski left the game after just 1.1 innings with what was later diagnosed to be elbow tendinitis. He’ll be out for at least 4-5 weeks. Sorry, Asher! In the meantime, we need a fresher bullpen, so let’s spin the roster merry-go-round.
Roster moves: Woj to the injured list, Dillon Tate optioned to Norfolk, Cody Carroll and Cole Sulser recalled from Norfolk because they’re rested
Game 40: Orioles 10, Angels 1
Our simulated Orioles have grabbed their first sweep of the season, and even better, no one was hurt in the process. Austin Hays led the way with a four-hit game that included a pair of home runs. Ruiz, Renato Nunez, and Stewart also homered in the contest. Nunez, with 11 home runs, continues to lead the team.
Staked to a lead by the offense, John Means scattered nine hits over a 7.2 inning outing, giving up just one run even though he only struck out one batter. Maybe not sustainable, but good enough for a simulated Sunday.
This winning streak has bumped our O’s from 30th in the sim power rankings to 22nd.
Roster moves: Akin promoted to Baltimore, Hess optioned to Norfolk, because I don’t trust the AI not to pitch Akin in the minors. He’ll debut two games from now. Good luck!
Game 41: Orioles 5, Indians 4
Four in a row! These are good teams, too. How fun. Ruiz drove in two runs in the eighth inning to put the O’s back ahead - they’d just surrendered two runs in the top half of the inning when Paul Fry and Tanner Scott combined for a little bullpen tragedy. It worked out OK.
Iglesias continued his tear with another pair of hits. Dwight Smith Jr. and Ruiz also had two hits in the game. Starter Alex Cobb had a bit of an abbreviated outing, leaving after 4.2 innings and 71 pitches due to some kind of injury, but he was OK the next day. He gave up a run and struck out five.
Game 42: Indians 10, Orioles 3
Well, they had to lose one eventually, and it’s not too surprising the one they lost was started by Wade LeBlanc, our worst pitcher to date. LeBlanc was blasted out of this game after one-plus innings in which he gave up seven runs, four earned, on seven hits. It doesn’t feel much better that he didn’t allow any homers.
Some bad luck in the loss as the red-hot Iglesias suffered a day-to-day abdominal strain. We’re going to ride out the injury without putting him on the IL for now. Pat Valaika will get a few consecutive days to make an impression. Pedro Severino had three of the Orioles nine hits, while Stewart added a two-hit game.
Game 43: Orioles 14, Indians 2
The very first batter that simulated Keegan Akin faced in his simulated career was Francisco Lindor, who took him deep. Could have been a recipe for a terrible debut, but Akin went on to spin a gem, striking out eight and walking two while allowing just three hits over 6.2 innings. That would make Orioles fans quite happy in real life.
You might look at the box score and think, “Of course he cruised when the offense gave him so much run support,” but that’s actually the result of a nine-run eighth inning against Cleveland’s bullpen. The O’s scored “only” five runs while Akin was in the game. Santander and Smith each had three hits and were a triple shy of the cycle. Santander now has ten home runs - Nunez hit a team-leading 12th.
We received word after this game that Wade LeBlanc is interested in a contract extension. Sorry, simulated Wade, but with your 6.86 ERA, we are not.
Record: 18-25, 8.5 games behind Rays
This mini-hot streak from our simulated O’s means they’re no longer the worst team by run differential in MLB - at -57, they’re third-worst, with a record two wins better than their Pythagorean W-L of 16-27.
There are six teams with a worse winning percentage than our current .419. There’s still time to go FUBAR for Kumar or Slack for Jack, but for now, simulated wins are a little more fun than simulated losses.
Next: Three games at Rays (28-18), three games at Twins (21-23)
The current roster
There’s been a lot of juggling lately, so here’s a snapshot right now:
- Regular position players: Pedro Severino (C), Renato Nunez (1B), Hanser Alberto (2B), Rio Ruiz (3B), Jose Iglesias (SS), Dwight Smith Jr. (LF), Austin Hays (CF), Anthony Santander (RF), DJ Stewart (DH)
- Bench: Chance Sisco, Ramon Urias, Pat Valaika, Mason Williams
- Starting rotation: John Means, Alex Cobb, Wade LeBlanc, Tommy Milone, Keegan Akin
- Bullpen: Mychal Givens (closer), Tanner Scott, Richard Bleier (setup), Cody Carroll, Paul Fry, Miguel Castro, Shawn Armstrong (middle relief), Cole Sulser (long relief)
- 15-day injured list: Hunter Harvey (just started rehab), Asher Wojciechowski (4+ weeks)
- 60-day injured list: Evan Phillips (rehab), Trey Mancini, Chris Davis, Travis Lakins
Jose Rondon cleared waivers and has been assigned to Norfolk. At Norfolk, simulated Mountcastle’s batting line has sunk to .259/.301/.393, a real damper on his immediate call-up chances.
Full statistics through 43 games
The injury to Wojciechowski was a bummer since he was performing decently with a 3.89 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 39.1 innings. So we’re stuck somewhat with Wade LeBlanc for now, unless we want to bring Kohl Stewart back up to MLB. He had a rough four starts but now has a 2.35 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 23 Norfolk innings. The waiver wire holds only Matt Harvey. I haven’t trawled other teams’ Triple-A rotation depth.
I wish we could coax better performance out of Chance Sisco, but just like in real life it’s not going to happen just because we want it to. Urias continues to offer no value, or actually negative value, to the team, but I’ve been stuck on who to replace him with since the Opening Day roster, and so he endures.