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Saturday Bird Droppings: The season’s first month is in the books

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It’s been more good than bad for the rebuilding O’s so far this year.

Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

The season’s first month is in the books, and the Orioles have played 26 games, which means we are essentially one-sixth of the way through the 2021 campaign. Let’s do a temp check on our guys.

Be honest, you are surprised that the O’s are 12-14. That record has them right in the thick of the race for second place in the AL East and puts them on pace for 74 or 75 wins on the season. If that were to actually come to fruition, it would be a strong indication that this team is headed in the right direction.

Looking a bit deeper we do see some cracks. The rotation has not been a complete disaster, but there are really only two starters that you could fairly say are pitching “well.” John Means has been spectacular. The O’s are 4-2 in his starts, and that includes a 1-0 loss in which Means tossed seven scoreless innings. Matt Harvey has also impressed, albeit to a lesser extent. The other three (Bruce Zimmermann, Jorge Lopez, and Dean Kremer) have had a tough time to varying degrees.

Fortunately, much of those issues have been papered over by a tremendous Orioles bullpen. Their 2.81 ERA as a unit is fifth-best in baseball. Cesar Valdez and his dead fish are tied for fourth in the league in saves. And guys like Adam Plutko, Paul Fry, and Cole Sulser have all been surprisingly effective out of the ‘pen.

The clutch pitching has been crucial because the O’s lineup has struggled. Their .648 OPS is second-worst in MLB, and only three teams have scored fewer runs. Cedric Mullins (.932 OPS) has, of course, been a massive bright spot at the top of the order, and Austin Hays is starting to really turn it on since returning from a hamstring injury. But the club is going to need more out of Ryan Mountcastle (.515 OPS) and a healthy Anthony Santander (sprained ankle).

All in all, this has been a really fun first month of the season for the O’s. They have not been kicked around by the league’s elite in that way that some pre-season prognosticators expected. It’s going to be tough for some of the team’s pitchers to stay this productive, but it would also be surprising to see the offense remain so dormant.

Links

Roberto Alomar banned from MLB after sexual misconduct investigation | CNN
The Blue Jays have already cut ties with Alomar, and the Orioles could be next. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Orioles’ minor league break-camp rosters | Steve Melewski
Minor league baseball returns next week, and the O’s have named their rosters for the respective levels just in time. Adley Rutschman and DL Hall will start at Double-A Bowie. Grayson Rodriguez will get going in High-A Aberdeen. Mike Baumann is without an assignment as he nurses a right flexor strain.

Leftovers for breakfast | School of Roch
This is the second story I have read that says Joey Ortiz is looking good ahead of this season. He is probably the best defensive infielder in the entire system, so if he can hit a little bit then he may be fast-tracked to the big leagues.

Better Than Expected (Ep. 66) | The Warehouse Podcast
Look, I know you have some chores to do today. Maybe it’s a run to the store. Maybe it’s some cleaning around the house. You could use a podcast in your ears, and this right here is, in fact, a podcast.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Current reliever Dillon Tate turns 27. The right-hander came to the O’s via the 2018 trade that sent Zack Britton to the New York Yankees. Tate has since appeared in 37 games and seems to be settling into a high-leverage role out of the bullpen.
  • Happy 64th to Allan Ramirez. All 11 games of his big league career came with the 1983 Orioles. Over 57 innings he had a 3.47 ERA, 20 strikeouts, and 30 walks.

This day in history

2012 - Buck Showalter wins his 1,000th game as an MLB manager as the O’s beat the Yankees 7-1.