Our big question from last time was who should be called up to replace Hunter Harvey while he deals with some shoulder tendinitis. The most popular choice of commenters was Cole Sulser, which surprised me if only because I didn’t imagine anyone knew who he was.
The most passionate argument was made in favor of Travis Lakins, who I’ll keep in mind for the next vacancy. It’s the 2020 Orioles pitching staff - somebody’s getting replaced before long. I was tempted to go with Lakins this time, but decided that the 30-year-old Sulser might be better “call up for 7-10 days” material.
We received a trade proposal before our first game of this week. The Braves offered to send us 31-year-old outfielder Adam Duvall, along with $1.2 million of his $3.25 million 2020 salary. They wanted our long reliever, Tommy Milone, as well as shortstop Noelberth Romero, one of the two players the O’s got for Andrew Cashner last year.
Nothing serious to consider here. I don’t think the Orioles would be adding any age 30+ outfielders to the mix, nor parting with an 18-year-old player in any trade like this. Rejected.
As always, if there’s anything you’d like to know about how the sim is going so far, drop into the comments and ask. OOTP makes a ton of information available, more than I could fit into any one post. Please make any feedback about what to change for the team before Wednesday afternoon, as I’ll be running the next two series then.
This week’s games
Game 14: Pirates 6, Orioles 1
The simulation included a rainout for Friday, April 10, so this is actually game 1 of a doubleheader the next day. It’s a good thing there’s two more off days coming up on either side of the two-game Cubs series.
The Orioles were pretty well dominated here, as they were out-hit by Pittsburgh, 14-5. Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams held the O’s lineup to five hits over 8.2 innings. Williams had a 5.38 ERA in the real world last year, so of course he’s not the sort of pitcher who should dominate anyone. Renato Nunez drove in the lone Orioles run in the ninth inning. For Pittsburgh, Ke’Bryan Hayes, aka “the guy the O’s should have drafted instead of DJ Stewart,” was on base three times with a hit, a walk, and a hit by pitch.
Although starter Kohl Stewart only went 4.1 innings and gave up four runs, we were able to avoid blowing up the bullpen before the second game. Milone allowed two runs in 2.2 innings before the freshly-promoted Sulser pitched the final two scoreless.
Game 15: Orioles 2, Pirates 0
The Orioles actually managed to have even fewer hits in the second game of the doubleheader, getting just four as they faced Chris Archer on a good day for him. The O’s made their hits count, though, with Nunez and Austin Hays each hitting a solo homer in the seventh inning to provide the O’s their runs.
While this was going on, John Means, who wasn’t good in his first couple of outings, kept the Pirates off the scoreboard over 8.1 innings, with Mychal Givens closing out the game after two men got on base in the ninth. It was his third save.
Dwight Smith Jr. suffered a dislocated finger in this game. The trainer reports he’s day-to-day for about four days. My feeling is to wait it out and not put him on the injured list right away.
Game 16: Pirates 14, Orioles 3
We saw our share of games like this one last year, didn’t we? The Pirates hit four home runs off of O’s pitching, including three off of Alex Cobb before he was bounced from the game after only 2.1 innings. Cobb still managed to allow six runs on eight hits. Several who came after him were also bad, including Asher Wojciechowski (three runs in three innings), Paul Fry (two runs in 0.2 innings,) and Miguel Castro (three runs in 0.2 innings).
Wojciechowski is in the rotation, but was plugged in by the AI for some emergency long relief and so his next start is being skipped over. It’s not what I would have done, and I don’t think the Orioles would have either. However, I’m not going to micromanage that much.
All but one player in the starting lineup had a hit, including three hits by Hays. Some days, that is the recipe for a win.
Game 17: Cubs 8, Orioles 6
Oh, look, another short starting pitching outing after which the O’s were behind by a lot. Wade LeBlanc had a simulated stinker, giving up six runs in just 1.1 innings, including four dingers allowed.
The O’s scored two in the second and one in third to keep it from being a laugher, and added three in the ninth to make things interesting, but the tying run got no closer than the batter’s box. Six Orioles relievers held the Cubs to just two more runs after LeBlanc’s short start - good news for everyone except Castro, who allowed a run in his one inning; another run charged to Paul Fry was unearned.
Hanser Alberto drove in four runs with two hits. Smith - whose finger seems to have been OK after all - and Jose Iglesias each added a pair of hits as well.
Game 18: Cubs 4, Orioles 2
The AI turned this into a bullpen game after its earlier non-starter use of Wojciechowski left him unavailable. Sure, whatever? Fry gave up two runs on solo home runs in one-plus inning, and because they’re Orioles pitchers even in a simulation, Tanner Scott and Shawn Armstrong also each gave up a solo home run.
Anthony Santander brought the Orioles within two runs with a solo shot off of Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. The tying run came to the plate with two outs when Rio Ruiz hit a single. Just like the day before, it got no closer than the batter’s box.
Record: 5-13, 7 games behind division-leading Red Sox
With a -51 run differential, the Orioles are the worst team in MLB. They also have the worst record so far, and according to their Pythagorean W-L they’re one win luckier than they “should” be.
The players who kind of suck so far
My goal for this sim remains to try to react to events how we think the 2020 Orioles would have reacted if this stuff had happened in a coronavirus-free real world. With that in mind, my two questions for this week are:
Which struggling players are on their last chance?
When should we decide that enough is enough?
We know from last season that Mike Elias will act fairly quickly in the season to banish guys he doesn’t want to see any more. Pedro Araujo was sent packing after he was horrible in only the fourth game last season. Mike Wright was chucked before the calendar turned to May after he was very bad to start the season.
There were some fairly quick moves on position players, too. One of last year’s Rule 5 picks, Drew Jackson, was sent back after playing in only three games. Cedric Mullins was demoted after posting a .337 OPS in 22 games played.
These are our most extreme strugglers so far:
- Miguel Castro - 9.35 ERA with 7 walks in 8.2 IP
- Paul Fry - 8.59 ERA with 7 walks in 7.1 IP
- Kohl Stewart - 13.06 ERA with 9 walks in 10.1 IP across three starts
- Alex Cobb - 9.00 ERA with 7 HR allowed in 17 IP across four starts
- Hanser Alberto - .200/.221/.267 in 17 games
- Dwight Smith Jr. - .210/.286/.371 in 17 games
- Anthony Santander - .200/.250/.320 in 18 games
What would Mike Elias do?
DJ Stewart has one day left before he’s ready to play. I’m going to send him on a rehab assignment to Norfolk. Since he would have missed all of spring training, I figure he’d need the full 20 days. This may be thinking more like Dan Duquette than Mike Elias.
Several minor league injuries popped up this week, including a sprained knee for Adley Rutschman. Come on, Out of the Park Baseball! He’s only supposed to be out for a week. Richie Martin got a bruised foot in Norfolk. Zach Peek, one of the players in the Dylan Bundy trade, is out two weeks with a herniated disc, while Easton Lucas, who the O’s got from Miami for Jonathan Villar, will miss 4-5 months with shoulder inflammation.