A baseball brawl is one of those things that generates a lot of tut-tutting. Yet most of them don’t have any aura of danger whatsoever and really just come across as an absurd spectacle. Sitting here right now thinking about the routine of the two bullpens, whose teammates are gathered in packs with some shoving and yelling, trotting in side by side before coming in at the back of the pack is enough to make me smile.
I’ve never seen a brawl live and probably never will. I guess I’ll have to settle for our simulated Orioles getting into a fight this week in OOTP. All I know is that the only people who were suspended were the batter and the pitcher, so we’ll all have to use our imagination for the rest, but I find it funny that the game is programmed to have the occasional simulated fight.
In non-fight news from our simulated O’s team, we’re now 24 games into the 2020 season and not surprisingly, the team I set up with the goal of having the most 2020 Orioles roster possible is pretty bad. The idea that the team might improve as different players get chances throughout the year is a nice one, but really the thing is for new faces to get an opportunity to fail when the old ones have had enough.
We have one immediate roster concern this time and a couple of more long-term things I’d like for you to start thinking about. The immediate one:
Hunter Harvey (simulated shoulder tendinitis) went on a short rehab assignment and his shoulder didn’t fall off. Who should come off the 26-man roster to activate Harvey?
In accordance with the wishes of readers, the guy promoted when Harvey went on the injured list was Cole Sulser. He’s now pitched in six games with a solid 2.57 ERA. We could just demote him, or we could move on from a different pitcher who is struggling. Opponents are batting .354 off Shawn Armstrong in 10 games pitched (full stats below). I’ve got my eye on him.
For a bit farther down the road...
When would it have been Ryan Mountcastle time for the 2020 Orioles?
One thing we saw about Mike Elias last year is he’s not rushing any prospect he might care about. What we don’t really know is how much more he wants to see at Norfolk from guys like Mountcastle and Keegan Akin, who spent all of last year there. Last time, commenter nukeet made what I think is a strong argument in favor of a May 8 callup, but I’d like to know what others think.
What should be done with Chris Davis?
Our sim’s Davis had a couple of non-horrible weeks to begin the season and is now heading the wrong direction. If it was up to me, Davis would have until May 15 to show he’s not completely cooked. If his early spring training success vanished, that would have been time to give up. But for this sim I’m more interested in what Elias would have done with a struggling Davis. He’s already not playing against most lefty pitchers and is batting ninth when he does play.
This week’s games
Game 19: Royals 2, Orioles 0
This is an early season battle of two of the simulation’s worst teams, so far. It turned into something of a pitcher’s duel, either because the pitchers were good or the offenses were not. The teams had five hits apiece. Two of the Kansas City hits were solo home runs against John Means, who was pretty good over six innings. The O’s had zero extra-base hits on the way to being blanked.
Our simulated O’s have scored just 58 runs up to this point, which is the fewest of any of the AL teams. Through this game, they were batting .221/.282/.360 as a team, also the worst OPS in the AL.
Game 20: Orioles 4, Royals 2
The sim O’s scored a run in each of the first four innings, starting with Hanser Alberto leading off the game with a home run, then held on the rest of the way. Not bad considering it was something of a “forfeit lineup” with reserves Mason Williams, Ramon Urias, and Jose Rondon all seeing action. Rondon drove in two runs as the shortstop. A good day for the bench.
The bullpen deserves credit for the win as well. Starter Alex Cobb threw 101 pitches in just 4.2 innings, and our long relief man Tommy Milone suffered a torn fingernail over a 1.2 inning outing. He’ll be back in four days, hopefully. Richard Bleier, Tanner Scott, and Mychal Givens combined to finish the game from there, with Givens getting his fourth save.
Game 21: Orioles 5, Royals 2
The benches cleared in the fifth inning after Kansas City’s Jakob Junis hit Renato Nunez with a pitch immediately after Anthony Santander put the Orioles on top with a three-run home run. It seems that simulated Nunez was unhappy about this and charged the mound. He’s been suspended for three games; Junis is out for six. We will assume, of course, that Nunez kicked Junis’s butt in the fight. It’s unfortunate for our team to be without Nunez for three games because he’s been the best player (by WAR) so far.
Five Orioles batters had multi-hit games, and Santander walked twice along with his homer. Austin Hays and Pedro Severino also drove in runs for the O’s.
Asher Wojciechowski hung around just long enough to get the win, pitching into the sixth inning while giving up two runs on five hits and two walks. Paul Fry tossed two scoreless innings. Givens closed things out for the second game in a row. The best way to get revenge for a pitcher pathetically throwing at a batter is always on the scoreboard.
Game 22: Angels 6, Orioles 0
Old friend alert: Dylan Bundy went 5.2 innings for the Angels in this game as the “follower” - striking out eight batters on his former team and giving up just four hits. The simulated season has been good to him so far, as he has a 3.24 ERA following this outing.
It was much less kind to Wade LeBlanc, who gave up four home runs in 5.2 innings. That included two home runs to the venerable Albert Pujols, one to two-way player Shohei Ohtani, and one to Mike Trout. In spite of a decent-seeming 4.39 ERA, LeBlanc has the worst WAR on the staff, clocking in at -0.7. They must be using Fangraphs WAR. LeBlanc’s FIP is a lot worse than his ERA.
Jose Iglesias had two of the O’s six hits; he was thrown out at home trying to score on a base hit in the eighth inning.
Game 23: Angels 11, Orioles 1
A real whole-staff effort to getting blown out from the O’s pitchers. Kohl Stewart took another one on the chin, giving up five runs (three earned) in only 3.2 innings. He’s pitched just 14 innings in four games. Cole Sulser (two runs in 1.2 innings) and Shawn Armstrong (three runs in 0.2 innings) didn’t help any.
While the pitchers were getting shellacked, things didn’t go much better for the hitters. They mustered just five hits and drew no walks. That’s always going to be a hard way to win. Santander hit his fourth homer of the year to plate the lone Orioles run. Young Angels pitcher Patrick Sandoval gave up only the one run over 7.1 innings - he’s got a 1.30 ERA at the start of his first full MLB season.
Game 24: Angels 7, Orioles 4
Ohtani the hitter helped beat the Orioles in the first game and Ohtani the pitcher helped beat them in the third game. Not that giving up four runs in seven innings is great, but it was good enough here. John Means was on the wrong end of a full Tommy Hunter (five runs, all earned) in just 3.2 innings, while Tanner Scott didn’t help matters late by giving up a two-run dinger to poor-hitting catcher Erik Kratz.
At the plate the O’s mustered just seven hits. Austin Hays drove in a pair of runs. Chris Davis walked twice and struck out twice. After a non-horrible start to his season, he’s sunk to a .635 OPS. We might get a “What to do about Davis?” quandary as this sim progresses.
The Orioles continue to have the worst run differential in the sim, sitting at -67 runs. That leaves them with an expected Pythagorean W-L of 6-18, so they’re actually one game lucky, if you can believe that. They’ve yet to win a game started by a left-handed pitcher (0-5).
Next: Three games vs. Blue Jays (13-11), four games vs. Royals (9-15)
Down on the farm
Ryan Mountcastle is batting .333/.387/.474 so far at Norfolk. Would that be enough to tempt Mike Elias for a late April promotion? I’ll be asking that question again in a week. Yusniel Diaz has four home runs but is only batting .204/.259/.444. Ryan McKenna, at .224/.308/.310, is worse.
A fun Bowie rotation has got Michael Baumann with a 2.04 ERA in his first three starts. DL Hall (2.40 ERA) and Cody Sedlock (3.45) also look nice so far.
In Frederick, Grayson Rodriguez has yet to give up a run in 14 innings, and his fellow starters Kyle Bradish, Brenan Hanifee, Blaine Knight, and Drew Rom aren’t doing too shabby either, with the worst ERA of the bunch being Knight’s 2.55.