Today, CC’s own Tyler Young called the present team being fielded by the Orioles “unwatchable,” and it’s hard to disagree with him, especially at a time when they:
· Have lost two of their best starting pitchers and their best infielder to injury, with two regular outfielders hobbling and their play suffering as a result,
· Recently DFA’d their backup catcher, with the other two almost automatic outs at the plate these days,
· Have a revolving door at second base, partly because their chosen starter was DFA’d before the season started,
· Own the worst bullpen and starter ERA in the league,
· Are 30 games below .500, and it’s not even July, and
· Are headed to Houston to face the AL’s best offense with a perennial Quadruple-A-type taking the mound against a six-time All-Star.
It’s no wonder fans are feeling worn out, jaded, and even downright mutinous. Opinions may differ about whether the rebuild is going according to schedule, but there’s no doubt that the current on-field product is a tough pill to swallow.
Tonight, I can’t give you a ton of reasons to feel differently, with Tom Eshelman, a slow-throwing journeyman who’s got all of 24 MLB starts to his name, set to do battle with six-time All-Star and 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. At 38, Greinke is somewhat diminished, stuff-wise, but even so, this matchup doesn’t seem quite fair.
Eshelman threw a pretty good game in his first appearance of 2021, an emergency start on June 18 against the Blue Jays necessitated by Bruce Zimmermann’s sore left biceps. The soft-tossing righty allowed just one run, three hits and a walk over 4.2 innings, while punching out three. But the start after that was not quite so good: Eshelman allowed six runs in just four innings last week. Against Houston. Gulp.
The Orioles have faced Greinke once this season, putting up a single run and five hits against him in 7.1 innings. For what it’s worth (and I’m not sure that it’s worth very much), Greinke is facing a somewhat different Orioles lineup tonight, with the additions of Domingo Leyba and Ramón Urías and the subtraction, at least for tonight, of Maikel Franco. Maybe on balance it’ll pan out well?
Weird things can always happen in baseball, and things will probably have to get weird for the Orioles to have an edge in this one.
1. Cedric Mullins CF
2. Austin Hays RF
3. Trey Mancini DH
4. Ryan Mountcastle 1B
5. Ryan McKenna LF
6. Pedro Severino C
7. Domingo Leyba 3B
8. Ramón Urías SS
9. Pat Valaika 2B
1. José Altuve 2B
2. Michael Brantley LF
3. Yuli Gurriel 1B
4. Yordan Alvarez DH
5. Carlos Correa SS
6. Kyle Tucker RF
7. Myles Straw CF
8. Robel García 3B
9. Martín Maldonado C