When last we left our simulated 2020 Orioles team, they were not too far removed from a thunderous 27-2 thrashing at the hands of the Rays. After weeks of sinking, the team had finally slipped into having the worst record in the simulated league.
We can only hope that when the real MLB season gets under way, it will be slightly more fun to watch than this sim team’s performance would be. They have the worst rotation and the worst bullpen, and the offense consists of one player with an OPS+ of 100 or better: Rio Ruiz. If it makes you feel any better, Austin Hays, Jose Iglesias, and Chance Sisco are at 98 or 99.
There’s now about a month to go until the traditional baseball trade deadline. That means it’s a good time to at least start exploring what trades might be out there. Sometimes it takes the deadline to get the best deal, but sometimes being able to offer another month to a team is worth something.
The player on this team who sits at the right nexus of “closer to being a free agent than not” and “doesn’t totally suck this year” is Mychal Givens. Even he’s not that great, heading into this week with a 3.82 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, allowing a walk every other inning. If he has a hot July, maybe his value would go up, but he could get hurt or start to stink.
This week’s games
Game 79: Yankees 4, Orioles 2
The Orioles kept this one close, but they never had much going against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, who struck out ten batters in an eight inning outing. The O’s starter, Dan Hammer, this sim’s strange darling, gave up four runs in five innings, giving up six hits and four walks. Sorry to Hammer, but it’s time to kick him back to Bowie. I’m ending Asher Wojciechowski’s rehab assignment to activate him; this wouldn’t happen in real life until a few days later but I can’t trust the AI to keep Wojo pitching on the correct day.
Orioles hitters were only outhit 9-8, though they drew no walks and had only one extra base hit. Trey Mancini, Renato Nunez, and Ryan Mountcastle had two hits apiece. Nunez had a fifth inning home run, his team-leading 18th of the season.
Injury news: We received word that utility man Andrew Velazquez suffered a strained oblique while doing some position player pitching in that blowout last week. He is expected to be out for five weeks. Our 40-man infielders in the minors consist of Ramon Urias (.228/.286/.281) and Richie Martin (.253/.324/.341) so welcome back, Richie.
Game 80: Yankees 6, Orioles 4
Chance Sisco had four hits and came a triple shy of the cycle for the Birds. Unfortunately, not many of his teammates had a good day. The rest of the team combined for just five hits; five batters went hitless. It’s tough to win that way, although the O’s did have a chance, since the game was tied 3-3 at the time that starter Keegan Akin left the game. Akin was “meh,” giving up three runs on three hits and four walks in five innings.
Yankees batters hit five home runs, including three off of Orioles relievers Shawn Armstrong and Dillon Tate in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. I grow weary of this neverending parade of jabroni pitchers.
Game 81: Yankees 6, Orioles 5
One of the few offseason signings made by the O’s this winter was Kohl Stewart. He stunk really bad for four starts, pitched well enough in Norfolk to have me bring him back, and now, well, he stinks again. Stewart was tagged for six runs on twelve hits over six innings here. He sports a 11.02 ERA in nine games. Rough! In fairness to Stewart, two of those runs were left on base when Miguel Castro came into the game in the seventh inning and he allowed both to score.
Still, the O’s had a chance here, as Yankees starter Chris Archer - acquired from the Pirates during the course of his sim league - gave up five runs in 6.2 innings. Jose Iglesias had three hits, while Trey Mancini drove in three runs with a third inning Earl Weaver Special.
Our Orioles are 26-55 at the season’s halfway point. Over a full season, that record would be worse than 2019 but better than 2018.
Game 82: Tigers 7, Orioles 6
This sim loves aggressively promoting prospects, and so the Orioles faced 2018 #1 overall pick Casey Mize in this game. They roughed up Mize pretty well, scoring five runs in six innings while the former top pick was pitching, including three home runs. Alas, the O’s starter, David Hess, gave up four runs in 5.2 innings and the first man out of the bullpen, Evan Phillips, allowed two runs to put the O’s down for good.
Hays, Nunez, and Mountcastle all homered in the losing effort. It was part of a three-hit game for Mountcastle. Hays had two hits, as did Mancini. The Orioles had the tying run on base with only one out in the ninth. They did score a run to make it 7-6, but despite loading the bases with two outs, they couldn’t tie it up or get a big walkoff hit.
Injury update: Tommy Milone has rehabbed at Norfolk enough. I’m sending Hess back to Norfolk after this game and replacing him with Milone. We probably haven’t seen the last of Hess.
Game 83: Orioles 17, Tigers 2
Here’s a good one for the run differential. The Orioles piled 21 hits on the Tigers, with six different O’s having multi-hit games. Sisco had four hits, adding another home run, and all of Iglesias, Hanser Alberto, and Pat Valaika had three hits apiece. Sisco is now batting .304/.377/.481 on the season - Pedro Severino’s injury gave Sisco a chance for uninterrupted playing time and he’s making the most of it.
Staked to a huge lead, starter John Means was able to mostly cruise through the game. He rolled through 7.1 innings, mostly scattering eight hits while allowing two runs. Means has lowered his season ERA to 4.57 after an early rough start in this sim. Old friend Jonathan Schoop had three hits for the Tigers.
Game 84: Orioles 9, Tigers 1
And another hammer dropped on Detroit, which could be important later on in the race for the 2021 #1 pick, though the O’s have five fewer wins than the Tigers, for now. In this game, five O’s had multi-hit games, with Alberto and Nunez having three apiece. Nunez drove in four runs and also hit his team-leading 20th home run.
Making his first start after being on the injured list, things went well for Tommy Milone, who allowed just four hits and did not walk a batter in a 7.1 inning start. That’s picking up where he left off before getting hurt: Milone has pitched in 16 games and has a 4.02 ERA. Not winning any Cy Youngs, but it’s a big improvement over the rotation’s overall numbers in the sim and in real life for the last couple of years.
Record: 28-56, 21 games behind in division and 19 games behind WC2
Next: three games vs. Yankees (49-35), four games at Athletics (43-41)
Mychal Givens trade offers
I’ve used the game’s “shop around” function to have teams make offers for Givens. We’ve received a total of 17 offers for Givens, although it’s not worth it for me to list any of them because they all kind of suck. No team offered a player younger than 23, and most of the offers are four or five non-prospects.
Mike Elias has shown he’ll trade for guys you’ve never heard of, but I think they need to be younger guys than this.
Select positive minor league performances
- Zac Lowther at Norfolk: 2.23 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 10.3 K/9 in 72.2 IP
- Yusniel Diaz at Norfolk: .246/.310/.488 with 14 HR in 207 AB
- Cody Sedlock at Bowie: 3.33 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.8 K/9 in 78.1 IP
- Adley Rutschman at Bowie: .276/.368/.487 in 76 AB
- Grayson Rodriguez at Frederick: 3.02 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 10.9 K/9 in 80.1 IP
Full statistics through 84 games
There are now four players who’ve gotten their OPS+ over 100: Sisco, Nunez, Iglesias, and Hays. The offense does look better when players actually, you know, hit. Facing the Tigers didn’t hurt. Better teams await.