Things are not so fun for our simulated Orioles right now, in the middle of a nine-game swoon with no immediate boost to their fortunes from calling up Ryan Mountcastle in our last update. It is early June and the Orioles have three hitters who are better than league average, two decent relievers, and varying degrees of bad just about everywhere else.
This would be a recipe for another bleak summer if it was happening in real life. As it is, there’s no idea when there will be baseball games again, so all we’ve got is our imaginary O’s as they try to power through.
One roster change is on tap this week as we get started. Lefty reliever Evan Phillips has been on a rehab assignment for the maximum allowed time after missing spring training and the early part of the season with elbow soreness. Phillips was on the 60-day injured list, so there has to be a move on both the 26-man and 40-man roster.
Neither is a difficult choice. David Hess has allowed 11 earned runs in 12.2 innings for our team. Back to Norfolk with him. In Norfolk, fringe 40-man pitcher Hector Velazquez, who the real life Orioles added on waivers only days before spring training shut down, has a 9.09 ERA and 2.18 WHIP in Norfolk. That’s a good way to go from the fringe of the roster to the great DFA in the sky. He gone.
This week’s games
Game 61: Orioles 4, Cubs 1
It’s been a stinker of a season for simulated Alex Cobb, who demanded a trade not too long ago. He might actually get a shred of trade value if he keeps pitching like this. Cobb held the Cubs to a run on five hits in seven innings.
The O’s offense had its own struggles against Cubs starter Yu Darvish, who like Cobb gave up just a run over seven innings. The teams took a 1-1 tie into the ninth inning when the O’s finally broke things open against the Chicago bullpen. The O’s loaded the bases with nobody out, took the lead on a Jose Iglesias single, then later got two more runs driven in by Austin Hays.
Iglesias, Chance Sisco, and Hanser Alberto each had two hits in the contest, which the O’s managed to win despite getting only one extra base hit. Richard Bleier got a win after pitching a scoreless eighth, with Mychal Givens getting his eighth save after needing just seven pitches to retire the side in the ninth.
Game 62: Cubs 9, Orioles 4
The O’s kept their losing streak from hitting ten games by winning the last one, but now they’ve just started a new streak. Emergency starter Wade LeBlanc was pressed into duty and showed why he was kicked out of the rotation, giving up six runs in 4.2 innings, including a grand slam to Javier Baez. Sheesh.
The Orioles offense picked up just five hits and three walks, not that this makes their getting four runs and losing by five runs feel any better. With an 0-4 in this game, 2019 international sensation Anthony Santander is now batting .245/.291/.432 for the year. It’s a tough time for a lot of Orioles.
Bonus draft content
The draft took place on the off day after this Cubs series. At #1, the Tigers took Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin, expected to be the #2 pick by the O’s in real life. Our in-game scouting director suggested Georgia’s Emerson Hancock, or if we want a position player, New Mexico State’s Nick Gonzales.
I picked Spencer Torkelson at #1 and then had the AI auto-draft for me, because I didn’t feel like navigating the game’s UI to look for more recognizable draft prospects. The AI was stingy with Peter Angelos’s money, drafting underslot players for the second and third picks. Fortunately, I won’t be playing this sim out beyond 2020 so it doesn’t matter if these simulated picks are any good.
Interlude: User error
After signing some draft picks, I went to have the AI assign them to affiliates so I didn’t have to do that myself. I accidentally told the AI to adjust the entire organization instead of just the minor leaguers, so it took my careful cultivation of what I think would have been a realistic roster over the last several weeks and flushed it down the toilet for its own whims.
The following have been sent to the great DFA in the sky: Mason Williams, Cody Carroll, Evan Phillips
Additionally, Paul Fry and Dwight Smith Jr. were sent to Norfolk.
The following are now on our simulated Orioles: Trey Mancini, Jose Rondon, Hector Velazquez, Dan Hammer
Dan Hammer was the Orioles 13th round pick last year and the sim AI really loves him because it’s assigned him from Delmarva to Frederick to Bowie to Baltimore in the span of two months. In fairness to the AI, the big reason it probably called up Hammer here is that I have the entire AAA rotation locked so the AI won’t promote or demote those players. And yes, that’s the same Velazquez who I DFA’d at the start of this post. I know, it’s dumb. Sorry! Let’s get back to the fake games.
Game 63: Astros 4, Orioles 2
The good news is that the offense received a nice boost from Mancini being brought back to the Orioles. He had two hits in his first game. The bad news is that the entire Orioles team had four hits as they were stymied by Astros pitcher Lance McCullers.
John Means battled with McCullers for six innings, giving up two runs on five hits. Both runs scored on a home run. Means left with the game tied 2-2, though McCullers was able to pitch through the eighth and the Astros crappy-hitting catcher Martin Maldonado blasted a two-run home run against Richard Bleier. The bullpen: It’s bad! And so is the offense.
Astros 1-5 hitters did not reach base in the game. All of the damage was done by the bottom of the lineup, with the #8 and #9 hitters driving in two runs each. Even the simulated Orioles are still the Orioles.
Game 64: Astros 9, Orioles 8
The bullpen is still bad. Young Keegan Akin had what would have been a nice little feather in his big league cap as he out-pitched Zack Greinke in this game. Akin’s outing wasn’t great by any means - three runs allowed on four hits and five walks (!) in 5.2 innings - but he left the game with a 7-3 lead, with Greinke having given up five runs in four innings.
Three O’s home runs helped them get out to such a big league. Austin Hays hit #13, Renato Nunez hit #14, and Santander hit #11. Jose Iglesias had three hits, including two doubles. All of that is good.
And yet, the bullpen. Shawn Armstrong wasn’t the culprit this time, inheriting a bases loaded jam and letting none of the runners score. However, Hunter Harvey gave up three runs while retiring just two batters, and Tanner Scott allowed two runs in a 1.1 inning outing. Harvey’s ERA is up to 8.16. This would be a huge bummer if it happened in real life. Those two guys combined to give up five eighth run innings and the simulated O’s took a loss.
Trade proposal: The Diamondbacks have made an offer to send us left fielder Jose Rojas, for whom they want Tanner Scott and Grayson Rodriguez. Rejected!
Game 65: Orioles 9, Astros 8 (11 innings)
This one got weird, although fortunately for the Orioles, it was the kind of weird that turned out well for them. It wasn’t so good early on. Kohl Stewart had to exit after only the second inning with back tightness, and Hector Velazquez - the guy I DFA’d at the start of this post for stinking at Norfolk, who the AI brought back anyway - gave up six runs in 1.2 innings. Come on, sim, now you’re just trolling me.
Bleier also got hurt in the game and his injury is more serious; he’ll be out for at least six days with back stiffness. There’s an off day tomorrow, so we can try to ride this out without an IL stint.
The Orioles kept battling, though, rallying for four runs in the seventh inning and another in the eighth to tie the game, eventually winning in the 11th when Hays hit a walkoff dinger. That was his 14th bomb of the season. Santander tied the game in the eighth with his 12th homer.
Hanser Alberto led the way for the O’s by driving in four runs on three hits. Hays also had three hits, as did Ryan Mountcastle, picking up his first multi-hit game as a big leaguer. May there be many more to come.
Trade proposal: The Reds have offered us Derek Dietrich, who is 30. They want Renato Nunez and Adley Rutschman. Rejected!
Record: 23-42, 15.5 games behind Rays and 12.5 games out of WC2
Amazingly, our Orioles are 8-6 in one run games. They’re at their worst against left-handed starters (3-11). Though the Orioles winning percentage of .354 is pretty bad, they’re still not as bad in this sim as the Pirates (.338) and Royals (.308). Not even going 2-12 in their last 14 games has been enough to get them the worst record.
Next: Three games vs. Twins (35-31), three games at Rays (39-27)
- Rotation: Alex Cobb, John Means, Keegan Akin, Dan Hammer, Kohl Stewart
- Bullpen: Shawn Armstrong, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Hunter Harvey, Wade LeBlanc, Tanner Scott, Hector Velazquez, Mychal Givens
- Regular lineup: Pedro Severino (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: Chance Sisco, Andrew Velazquez, Jose Rondon, Pat Valaika
- Injured list: Tommy Milone (about to start rehab), Asher Wojciechowski (about to start rehab), DJ Stewart (6 days max on rehab), Travis Lakins (2-3 months), Chris Davis (7 months)