In the parallel universe where everything is the same as this one except that the 2020 MLB season was able to proceed as scheduled, today is the All-Star Game. The Orioles almost certainly would have been in the club of having only one player on the roster for the fourth straight season.
Who do you think the 2020 Orioles All-Star representative might have been, if there had been a season? Before the 2019 season, no one would have predicted John Means as the O’s All-Star, so there’s always the possibility of a surprise. Perhaps it would have been Mychal Givens or even Hunter Harvey, because it’s “easiest” to herald a late-inning reliever who’s doing well.
Maybe a younger player like Austin Hays would have ridden a hot first few months into the All-Star Game, or it could have ended up being some random veteran’s hot first six weeks getting him as the lone O’s All-Star, like what once happened with Ty Wigginton.
For our simulated Orioles team, it’s also All-Star time. Unsurprisingly, no one was elected in the fan voting, and so we got our one obligatory All-Star in as a reserve. The choice of the OOTP sim was Jose Iglesias, who enters the All-Star Break with a .303/.335/.452 batting line and 3.2 WAR to date. If he had done that in real life, that would have been a fun thing to watch play out.
Additionally, there were three Orioles prospects selected for the Futures Game. Rutschman being chosen is no surprise. In this sim, we ended up drafting Spencer Torkelson, who’s already homered 22 times and stolen 21 bases (?) in about one month as a pro, so he’s made the team as well. So did Ryan McKenna, even though he’s only batting .241/.320/.331 for the season.
This week’s games
Game 92: Mariners 10, Orioles 2
One consistent theme of our simulated Orioles team has been a bad starting rotation. Another has been that the offense is bad against lefty starters. They both collided in this game against the Mariners, as Seattle lefty Marco Gonzales went the distance while O’s starter Kohl Stewart was wrecked for five runs in a 3.1 inning outing.
Jose Iglesias led off the game with his ninth home run of the season. The game went downhill from there. With an 11.32 ERA in the bigs after putting up a 2.80 ERA in six Norfolk starts, the sim version of Stewart looks a lot like the picture of a quad-A player who can beat up minor leaguers but is helpless in the show.
Game 93: Orioles 6, Mariners 5
For the second straight game, an Orioles batter led off the game with a homer. In this case, it was Hanser Alberto, who connected for the 11th time this season. Alberto also homered later in the game. It was the start of a back-and-forth affair that finished with the O’s on top thanks to the day’s hero, Alberto, driving in two runs with a single in the top of the ninth inning.
Starting for the O’s, Means was OK, allowing three runs (two earned) in five innings of work. He struck out six batters.
Trade proposal: The Nationals have offered us Howie Kendrick, plus $1.85 million. They want Tanner Scott and Adley Rutschman. Rejected!
Game 94: Orioles 6, Mariners 2
This was a day for the bottom of the lineup to shine, as the 1-4 hitters all went 0-for-the game and the Orioles were out-hit 12-7 overall. Ryan Mountcastle hit two home runs and drove in five runs all by himself, making the difference in the game. The 23-year-old is only batting .220/.238/.415 since being promoted, but he now has seven home runs in 31 games.
Scrap heap surprise Tommy Milone scattered nine hits over five innings, allowing just one run. The veteran lefty has a 3.39 ERA in 18 games in this simulated season.
Game 95: Red Sox 9, Orioles 4
The Orioles jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning, with Iglesias hitting a three-run homer to give the O’s a nice boost. That didn’t last, though, since the O’s never scored again and the Red Sox piled on eight runs in the home half of the fifth. Most of the damage came against Keegan Akin, who turned in another clunker, giving up six runs in 4.2 innings. He has a 7.87 ERA in 11 MLB starts.
Game 96: Red Sox 7, Orioles 6
The Red Sox won this one with a walkoff home run, as Tanner Scott served up a solo shot to J.D. Martinez to break a 6-6 tie and end things before extra innings. It was a rollercoaster of a game before that, with the O’s holding leads of 2-1 and 5-3 before needing Renato Nunez’s team-leading 24th home run to tie the game in the eighth inning.
Game 97: Orioles 6, Red Sox 4
Fresh off being named to the All-Star team, Iglesias had a 5-5 day for the Orioles. The team never trailed once Austin Hays got them on the board with a solo homer in the second inning, his 20th dinger of the season. Both Hays and Trey Mancini had three-hit games, with Mancini driving in a pair of runs.
Kohl Stewart managed to get his ERA down out of the double digits by allowing just two runs in 7.1 innings, picking up his first win of the season, though Miguel Castro tried to make things interesting after Stewart exited.
All-Star Game: American League 9, National League 3
Iglesias made the most of his time in the game, hitting a two-run double off of former Orioles prospect Josh Hader in the eighth inning. The AL team was already ahead by then, taking a lead in the second inning that they never surrendered. The game’s MVP was Yoan Moncada, who drove in four runs.
Record: 33-64, 25 games out of first place and 22 games out of WC2
After going 3-3 in this stretch of six games headed into the break, the Orioles do not have the worst record in the sim, as the 31-64 Giants are worse than they are.
The roster heading into the second half
- Rotation: John Means, Asher Wojciechowski, Alex Cobb, Tommy Milone, Kohl Stewart
- Bullpen: Shawn Armstrong, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Paul Fry, Hunter Harvey, Wade LeBlanc, Tanner Scott, Mychal Givens
- Regular lineup: Chance Sisco (C), Trey Mancini (1B), Hanser Alberto (2B), Jose Iglesias (SS), Rio Ruiz (3B), Ryan Mountcastle (LF), Austin Hays (CF), Anthony Santander (RF), Renato Nunez (DH)
- Bench: Pedro Severino, Richie Martin, Pat Valaika, DJ Stewart
- Injured list: Andrew Velazquez (1-2 weeks), Travis Lakins (5-6 weeks), Chris Davis (6 months)
Coming out of the All-Star break, I ended Cobb’s rehab assignment and demoted Keegan Akin back to the minors. I’ve also demoted Cole Sulser to activate Hunter Harvey.