When last we left our simulated 2020 Orioles team, they were sporting a worst-in-MLB .333 winning percentage, 21 games out of first place, with a bad rotation, a bad bullpen, and a disappointing offense, with few immediate options to do anything about most of these problems. The first attempt to shop around our closer, Mychal Gievns, was a total bust.
Aside from Givens, the holdover relievers from 2019 who pretty much had roster spots by default who have been the most disappointing for this simulated team. Miguel Castro has posted a 5.40 ERA so far. For Tanner Scott, it’s 6.55, with a 6.5 BB/9. Shawn Armstrong has a 7.23 ERA and has allowed nine home runs in 37.1 innings. It’s tough. No wonder so many of the losses have had a reliever as the losing pitcher.
We’re still stuck with those guys unless we want to send one of them to the great DFA in the sky. I’m perpetually tempted, but as long as there are other struggling relievers to get out of the picture, and those other guys have minor league options, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.
Before starting this week’s games, I have brought back Richard Bleier from his rehab assignment and recalled Paul Fry, sending Dillon Tate and Evan Phillips back to Norfolk in the process. Will it make any difference? I guess we’ll find out.
This week’s games
Game 85: Yankees 8, Orioles 7 (10 innings)
You would have expected the Orioles to lose a game against the Yankees where Gerrit Cole was starting, and you’d have been right, although that’s not why the O’s lost. The O’s scored five runs against Cole - though only one was earned - and took a 6-4 lead into the eighth inning. Scott gave up a run in the eighth and Givens blew the save in the ninth, setting up the stage for Armstrong to collapse in the tenth.
The Orioles out-homered the Yankees 5-1 and still lost. That’s tough. Renato Nunez hit his team-leading 21st home run of the season as part of a three hit game. Rio Ruiz also had three hits. Orioles pitchers walked Luke Voit five times and issued ten walks total. Yikes. Silver lining: Gleyber Torres, who has 36 home runs so far, did not homer in the game. I’m knocking on wood, because this series isn’t over yet.
Game 86: Yankees 5, Orioles 3
Yeah, I spoke too soon about Torres not homering, because he hit a two-run homer in this one. Whoops. These Yankees have now won 11 games in a row. Sounds impressive, but remember that they’ve played the Orioles in five of those games, so it almost doesn’t count.
Asher Wojciechowski gave up all five runs in a 5.1 inning outing and the Orioles, facing Chris Archer, acquired by the Yankees in this sim, got a total of four hits over the whole game. Ruiz had another multi-hit game and Nunez was on base twice with two walks.
Game 87: Yankees 14, Orioles 1
OK, make that 12 wins in a row for New York. This one didn’t turn lopsided until the Yankees put up five runs in the sixth inning. They made it more of a laugher with six runs in the eighth. Kohl Stewart was bad, giving up seven runs in 5.1 innings. Wade LeBlanc was bad, giving up two runs in four innings. And Armstrong was again bad, giving up three runs in less than an inning. Sheesh.
Ruiz had another multi-hit game here, and Nunez added to his team lead with his 22nd home run.
International amateur signing day: Simulated Peter Angelos has only given us about $1.9 million to sign international FAs. That’s not going to improve what needs to be improved, Peter! I made an offer to a player who was demanding $1 million, and then he demanded $1.5 million. I made another offer to a player who was demanding $750,000, and then he demanded $1.2 million. Signing imaginary international amateurs isn’t easy.
Game 88: Orioles 10, Athletics 6
Apparently, what the O’s needed was a team in the midst of its own losing streak, as the A’s have now lost eight in a row. John Means had a vaguely acceptable outing, allowing three runs in five innings. It was only interesting later on because of Scott giving up three runs in the ninth.
Ruiz and Nunez are continuing this week’s hot streaks. Ruiz had two doubles and hit his tenth homer of the year while driving in four runs. Anthony Santander crushed a third inning grand slam to drive in four of his own. Nunez had three hits again as seven of nine Orioles had hits in the game.
Game 89: Orioles 3, Athletics 2 (10 innings)
Make that two wins in a row. The Orioles scored two runs in the first inning here and then didn’t score again until the tenth. Amazingly, the Orioles pitching staff was good enough to make that last. Tommy Milone allowed just two unearned runs in a 7.2 inning outing and the O’s won one despite getting just seven hits.
After a few hot games, Ruiz was finally hitless in this one. Trey Mancini’s 10th inning home run, his fourth in 27 games, proved to be the difference-maker. Mancini had two hits in the game, as did Hanser Alberto. Chance Sisco, who was red hot last week, has now gone hitless in five straight games.
Speaking of catchers: It’s about time to bring back Pedro Severino from his rehab assignment. Austin Wynns, enjoy the shuttle ride to Norfolk. For now, I’m giving Severino every other game against lefties and every third game against righties.
Game 90: Athletics 7, Orioles 3
Let’s start with some good news. Ruiz had another three-hit game and is now hitting at a satisfying .286/.355/.452 clip. Build that trade value, baby! Trey Mancini drove in two of the Orioles three runs with his fifth homer of the season. Remember, this sim doesn’t know about Mancini’s cancer diagnosis.
The bad news is that Keegan Akin gave up six runs in just two innings and is now sporting a 7.49 ERA after his first ten MLB games. That would be a bummer of an outcome in real life, though of course we should all be prepared for some of the prospects we’ve gotten our hopes up about to not end up working out.
Game 91: Athletics 2, Orioles 1
This was an unexpected pitcher’s duel between Sean Manaea and Wojciechowski, with the O’s starter allowing a run on five hits over seven innings. Unfortunately for the O’s, as soon as he came out of the game, reliever Cole Sulser walked a batter and then gave up an RBI double to Khris Davis which set up the 2-1 final score.
O’s batters out-hit the Athletics, 8-6, in the loss. Mancini had three of the eight hits, including an RBI triple that scored the only O’s run.
Record: 30-61, 24.5 games back in AL East and 21 games out of WC2
- Rotation: John Means, Tommy Milone, Asher Wojciechowski, Keegan Akin, Kohl Stewart
- Bullpen: Shawn Armstrong, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Paul Fry, Wade LeBlanc, Tanner Scott, Cole Sulser, 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: Pedro Severino, Richie Martin, Pat Valaika, DJ Stewart
- Rehab assignments: Alex Cobb (29 days max), Hunter Harvey (27 days max)
- Other injured list: Travis Lakins (7 weeks), Chris Davis (6-7 months), Andrew Velazquez (3 weeks)
Full statistics through 91 games
The recent hot streaks have set up the O’s offense where there are now five batters above a 100 OPS+, with Jose Iglesias pretty close at 97. But it would be more fun if things were going better for Mountcastle (.586 OPS) and Santander (.713 OPS).