When last we left our simulated version of the 2020 Orioles, the team was plummeting fast towards having the worst record in the league and with it, the first crack at Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker with the 2021 #1 draft pick. They’re not quite there yet, though.
Perhaps a disaster area of a bullpen will ultimately get them there. Hunter Harvey has an 8.16 ERA, which would be majorly depressing in real life. Other poor performers are Tanner Scott (7.09 ERA) and Shawn Armstrong (6.26 ERA), who nonetheless both survived the AI purge that I accidentally initiated last time.
Things aren’t much better for the offense, especially with players who were pleasant surprises in 2019. Hanser Alberto’s .264/.282/.388 batting line won’t get nearly as many fun stories, and neither will Anthony Santander’s .244/.288/.445, though at least Santander has some power. One bit of good news for our sim team is that the same AI purge brought Trey Mancini onto the roster, because the game doesn’t know about his cancer diagnosis.
This week’s games
Game 66: Twins 10, Orioles 8
This simulation is unkind to Alex Cobb, probably because real games have been rather unkind to Cobb since he joined the Orioles. Here, he gave up seven runs in the first inning of the game and couldn’t get out of the inning. It’s ridiculous. All seven runs were unearned, though, because of Mancini committing an error. Error or not, a pitcher failing to complete the first inning had a bad day.
After Cobb, Wade LeBlanc came in for some long relief. He didn’t make it very long, though, giving up three runs in 2.2 innings. LeBlanc has already been bounced from the rotation and if he doesn’t do any good in the bullpen, he might not stick around for long.
The O’s offense rallied eventually, scoring five runs in the ninth inning. They had the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning after having already scored the five runs, but Jose Iglesias and Pat Valaika both struck out and that was that. As a team, the O’s left 13 men on base. Renato Nunez hit his team-leading 15th home run and also drove in three runs.
Game 67: Twins 5, Orioles 3
Here was the MLB debut for Dan Hammer, last year’s 13th round pick who this sim weirdly loves and who the AI brought into the big league rotation. He gave up four runs in his first big league inning, so it could have gone better - but only three of them were earned thanks to the O’s defense committing three errors. There are things that feel familiar here. Hammer eventually got through 4.2 innings before hitting his pitch count of 100; he’d walked four batters.
Santander hit two solo home runs to provide most of the Orioles offense. He’s now up to 14, just behind Nunez. Ryan Mountcastle also hit a solo homer, the first dinger of his big league career. As a team, the O’s had just six hits, always a tough way to win.
Game 68: Orioles 5, Twins 4
It’s a walkoff! The winning run scored after Iglesias hit a single, but it took some defensive chicanery to make it happen; the Twins right fielder seems to have overthrown third base, allowing Chance Sisco, who went first to third on the play, to score. No RBI for Iglesias, but he probably got to be in a dogpile anyway. This was his third hit of the game.
The Orioles had trailed 3-0 after two innings as starter John Means gave up some early runs, but he ended up with a decent-ish line, going 5.1 innings with the same three runs allowed. Austin Hays drove in two runs with a fourth inning double, Mountcastle homered for a second straight game, and Nunez added a solo homer as well.
Injury news: Pedro Severino had to leave the game early after a collision, seemingly while successfully trying to break up a would-be double play in the fifth inning. He’s out for a week, so off to the injured list with him. Can’t go with only one catcher. Austin Wynns, come on down! He’s the only other catcher who’s already on the 40-man.
Also injured is Richard Bleier, who was day-to-day and suffered a setback in his recovery. Putting Bleier on the IL means we can bring Paul Fry back to the Orioles; he was demoted to Norfolk in the accidental AI purge, even though he’s been fine (except for his walk rate) in our sim season.
Game 69: Rays 4, Orioles 3
One way our simulated team is trying to imitate the 2019 Orioles is by giving up a hojillion home runs. Keegan Akin, unfortunately, kept that going in this game, giving up two homers over five innings - he’s now got nine allowed in 31 innings of his simulated big league career. The team has given up 142 home runs in 69 games, which is somehow, amazingly, an even worse pace than last year’s record setters. We’re making history again!
Four O’s hitters had multi-hit games, but the other five batters went hitless, and the O’s struck out 12 times as a team, so three runs was all they could get.
Game 70: Rays 8, Orioles 4
A series of rotation disasters, plus Kohl Stewart’s performance at Norfolk, made it seem like a good idea to bring him back to Baltimore not too long ago. Games like this make it seem like less of a good idea; Stewart gave up the full Tommy Hunter (five runs, all earned) in a 5.1 inning outing. He walked five batters, which as I understand it is not good. Two more home runs allowed for the team: 144 in 70 games.
The O’s offense, meanwhile, had a whopping six hits in the game. Leadoff man Alberto had two hits and drove in two of the O’s four runs. Santander also had a multi-hit game. I should have complained about their performance before now.
Game 71: Rays 3, Orioles 1
Another stinker for the offense, and it’s a shame because Cobb was good over an eight inning complete game loss, giving up three runs on seven hits, with no walks allowed. All three Rays runs scored in the third inning and that proved to be enough since the O’s only had six hits as a team once again. Iglesias and Mancini had two hits apiece and the rest of the jabronis went 2-24.
The O’s got the tying run on base in the ninth inning with one out. This led the Rays to bring in former Oriole Oliver Drake, who got the last two outs of the game and picked up a save.
Record: 24-47, 19.5 games behind Rays and 15.5 games out of WC2
The Orioles now have the second-worst record in this sim, with only the Royals below their .338 winning percentage. FUBAR for Kumar is certainly nowhere close to settled.
Next: Four games at Indians (40-32), three games at Rays (44-28)
Our current roster
- Rotation: Alex Cobb, John Means, Keegan Akin, Dan Hammer, Kohl Stewart
- Bullpen: Shawn Armstrong, Miguel Castro, Paul Fry, Hunter Harvey, Wade LeBlanc, Tanner Scott, Hector Velazquez, Mychal Givens
- Regular lineup: Chance Sisco (C), Trey Mancini (1B), Hanser Alberto (2B), Rio Ruiz (3B), Jose Iglesias (SS), Ryan Mountcastle (LF), Austin Hays (CF), Anthony Santander (RF), Renato Nunez (DH)
- Bench: Austin Wynns, Andrew Velazquez, Jose Rondon, Pat Valaika
- Injured list: DJ Stewart (rehab ending now), Pedro Severino (8 days), Richard Bleier (13 days), Tommy Milone (rehab - 26 days max), Asher Wojciechowski (rehab - 26 days max), Travis Lakins (2-3 months), Chris Davis (7 months)
With Stewart needing to be activated, I’m looking at sending Rondon packing again, since I already DFA’d him before and the AI brought him back even though he hadn’t been good in Norfolk.
It’s soon going to be time to juggle the rotation again, once Wojciechowski and Milone have pitched a couple of times on rehab for the Tides.
Assorted good minor league news
In the Norfolk rotation:
- Zac Lowther: 2.34 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10.8 K/9
- Michael Baumann: 3.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 8.3 K/9
- Bruce Zimmermann: 3.76 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 9.5 K/9
- Cody Sedlock: 3.62 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.2 K/9
- Adley Rutschman: .289/.372/.500 in 38 AB since promotion
- Grayson Rodriguez: 3.00 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 11.0 K/9
- Gray Fenter: 3.11 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 10.5 K/9