Two months into our simulated version of the 2020 Orioles season, it’s Ryan Mountcastle time. Though I’ve been trying to keep “What would Mike Elias do?” as my guide up to this point and I’m not sure that Mountcastle’s .263/.307/.411 batting line in Norfolk would get him up here, I’m ignoring that to get him to Baltimore. This sim will be more interesting with him than without him, and 69% of voters in our poll wanted to call him up. That’s good enough for me.
Perhaps with the power of imagination, we can all envision something like what then-GM Andy MacPhail did with Matt Wieters eleven years ago, announcing early in a week that Wieters would be making his debut in front of the home crowd that Friday night. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who went and bought a ticket. It felt like an important moment for the future of the franchise right then, even if looking back now it doesn’t still feel that way.
Giving some notice for Mountcastle’s arrival might be a similar spark for fans of a 21-36 Orioles team who haven’t had many young players on the roster to get excited about. It would be worth changing plans, you know? Just in case some day down the road it would be good to be able to say that you were there.
Is it going to work out for our simulated O’s? Let’s start to find out.
We have made the following roster moves since last time, in addition to calling up Mountcastle:
- SP Tommy Milone placed on 15-day injured list (back stiffness)
- RP Cody Carroll optioned to Triple-A Norfolk
- INF Ramon Urias optioned to Norfolk
- SP Kohl Stewart recalled from Norfolk
- RP David Hess recalled from Norfolk
Stewart has been called up one day earlier than needed, because I don’t want the AI to have him pitch in Norfolk.
This week’s games
Game 58: Blue Jays 11, Orioles 1
So... about Mountcastle. I accidentally goofed and didn’t notice that the AI was going to use my “every fifth game” backup DH when I’d called up a new player, so, uh... he didn’t actually play. Let’s just pretend that didn’t happen, because I’m sure real life fans would be mighty pissed if Mountcastle was called up and didn’t play right away. I’ve adjusted the lineups so Mountcastle is now the DH every day unless he’s tired.
As for the game, the Orioles were obliterated as the sim Jays try to claw back to .500 almost solely by beating the O’s. Keegan Akin had the first clunker of his sim career, giving up five runs in 2.1 innings, including a three-run home run hit by Derek Fisher, the guy the Astros chose with the pick the Orioles traded there for Bud Norris.
Not that things went any better for the rest of the staff. Hunter Harvey gave up two runs in an inning and fresh callup Hess gave up three runs in 3.1 innings. At least he ate some innings? And the offense, also, was bad, as real life top Jays pitching prospect Nate Pearson held the O’s to five hits in 7.1 innings. Renato Nunez’s solo home run, his 13th dinger of the year, scored the lone O’s run.
Trade proposal: The Marlins have offered us Jonathan Villar plus $4,590,000. They want Pedro Severino and Adley Rutschman. I imagine they heard the sound of laughter before the phone call cut off. Rejected!
Game 59: Blue Jays 19, Orioles 9
Actual Mountcastle update: He went 0-5 in his MLB debut, with four strikeouts. Hey, look on the bright side. There’s nowhere to go but up from there.
Though the final score shows a complete blowout, the Orioles actually took a 6-4 lead into the sixth inning in part thanks to Chance Sisco driving in three runs. That’s good! However, Stewart, making his return to MLB after an earlier demotion, labored through five innings, throwing 114 pitches and giving up four runs. That meant it was time for the bullpen, and things went extremely poorly.
Harvey had a complete stinker, facing three batters and retiring none. The third batter, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., hit a three-run bomb and chased Harvey from the game. He now has a 7.11 ERA. Yuck. Later on, Richard Bleier gave up three runs, Shawn Armstrong gave up three runs, and Tanner Scott gave up four runs. Scott gets a particular demerit for retiring zero batters as well. That’s... not great.
Game 60: Blue Jays 6, Orioles 3
It’s now nine losses in a row for our simulated O’s, who want to catch up to last year’s .333 winning percentage in a hurry here. There’s not much silver lining, although Mountcastle did get his first hit and RBI with a one-out single in the ninth to set up the final 6-3 score. Jose Iglesias and Austin Hays each had a chance as the tying run with two men on base, but neither could get on base.
The sophomore struggles for simulated John Means continued here as he gave up six runs in six innings, including three home runs. Tough going for Means, who now has a 5.33 ERA, and has allowed 17 home runs in 79.1 innings this year.
The O’s offense was thoroughly baffled by the Jays starter Shun Yamaguchi, who only gave up three hits and a walk while striking out seven Orioles over eight innings. It was only against the Jays bullpen in the ninth that the O’s got anything going. Chance Sisco had three of the eight Orioles hits, with Nunez adding another two. And the Jays are back to .500.
Record: 21-39, 15.5 games behind Rays and 12.5 games out of WC2
After this suckfest of a series, the Orioles have taken a dive towards the worst run differential in MLB, though they’re not quite there yet, with -103 to the really-bad Royals at -107.
The Royals and Pirates are still worse off than the Orioles in the standings, with the 17-42 Royals a whopping 3.5 games up on the O’s in the chase for the #1 pick in 2021. This team could yet be up to claiming that simulated pick.
Next: Two games at Cubs (33-27), three games vs. Astros (38-22)
Minor league promotions
June 1 seemed like a good day to do some minor league promotions, so here are a bunch of guys who will be trying out new levels in the sim:
- Adley Rutschman: A+ to AA, batted .300/.465/.475 for Frederick
- Robert Neustrom (2018 fifth round pick): A+ to AA, batted .328/.368/.551 for Frederick
- Cadyn Grenier: A+ to AA, batted .266/.387/.441 for Frederick
- Joseph Ortiz (2019 fourth round pick): A to A+, batted .280/.379/.367 for Delmarva
- Kyle Stowers (2019 second round pick): A to A+, batted .240/.346/.469 for Delmarva
None of this is going to matter for the 2020 big league team. This is mostly for my own amusement.