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Saturday Bird Droppings: Tough times in Tampa continue

The season begins with a loss, the bullpen looks good, and Matt Harvey is back.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Birdland!

Well, that could have gone better. The Orioles lost 2-1 on Opening Day, but at least the fashion in which they did so was bearable. John Means looked good, threw his 84 pitches with few problems, and the bullpen largely held things together for four innings. Now all they need is for the bats to wake up, and this team should be OK.

There is no point in drawing conclusions from a single game, but some initial thoughts did hit me throughout the game:

Keeping Means healthy feels like it should be an insanely high priority for the Orioles this year. Obviously, that is easier said than done. Everything is just so much better when he is on the mound and able to keep the opposing lineup in check for a chunk of the game. Give him extra rest, pull him early on occasion, place him in bubble wrap between outings, just do whatever it takes.

Cionel Pérez may have had the most interesting performance from an individual yesterday. A lefty with a fastball that sits 95-97 is a sight to behold when they are throwing strikes (something he has had issues with in the past). He struck out two in his inning of work.

It was nice to see Ryan Mountcastle and Trey Mancini come out of the gate with a hit each. Both of them had difficult starts to 2021, so a flip of the script there would be great.

We may have gotten a glimpse at how Brandon Hyde is going to manage the third base situation for the time being. It’s going to need to be a group effort for a while. Kelvin Gutiérrez is a talented defender, but his bat is a problem. Until he proves otherwise, it’s tough see him playing all nine innings when the O’s are down late.

In non-Orioles news, I looked at the Marlins box score for last night, a 6-5 loss to the Giants. Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser threw identical scoreless innings with one strikeout. Old friend Richard Bleier allowed one run over two-thirds of an inning.

The O’s get another bite at the apple today. Jordan Lyles makes his much anticipated Orioles debut at 1:10 against the Rays.

Links

Orioles’ revamped ‘pen shows promise | MLB.com
The bullpen will probably be fine. I would have liked to hold onto Sulser, but I imagine he was required in the deal if the Orioles were going to get the draft pick that Mike Elias coveted. At the end of the day, relievers are volatile, and it’s not like the group was any good last year. Might as well try something new.

The future of the Orioles’ infield is in Double-A Bowie, and they already have championship aspirations | The Baltimore Sun
I have always felt that once a prospect gets to Double-A things are getting real. That’s when potential needs to be paired with productivity in order for major league ambitions to be realized. The Baysox box score could become a daily destination for me this summer.

Thrust into new role, Orioles’ Jorge López embracing reliever mentality: ‘I like the challenge’ | The Baltimore Sun
With the Orioles’ closer role completely up for grabs it is entirely possible that Jorge López nabs a few saves before the year is out. I’m not saying I would run out and pick him up in fantasy, but if I had to pick a favorite for the role he is the one I would go with.

Fry feels good after improved results against Rays | School of Roch
Paul Fry is going to be better this year. He had a good spring, and has alternated successful and awful seasons throughout his career. That could add up to him ending 2022 in another uniform, but getting outs in the playoffs isn’t such a bad outcome.

An O’s prospect’s unique approach to help improve his offense | Steve Melewski
Gunnar Henderson has an outside shot at debuting in the big leagues this year. But that won’t happen until he cuts down on the strikeouts just a touch. Over 30% of his Aberdeen plate appearances ended in a K last year, and that number jumped to almost 60% in his five game cameo in Bowie. He also doesn’t even turn 21 until the end of June, so it’s OK if he struggles a little bit. There is time to sort it out.

Orioles Sign Matt Harvey To Minor League Deal | MLB Trade Rumors
I understand this signing, but it doesn’t mean I like it. Matt Harvey was not good last year, and there is little reason to expect that to change. But it is an insurance policy. Elias has publicly said that the young guys that struggled last year have to step up this year. That is fair, and perhaps the presence of Harvey gets the best out of those guys.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Mac Sceroler turns 27. The former Rule 5 pick appeared in five games for the Orioles in 2021 prior to being returned to the Reds in June.
  • Adam Loewen celebrates his 38th birthday. The Canadian lefty was a big-time prospect after being selected fourth overall in the 2002, but ultimately spent just parts of three seasons with the O’s from 2006 through 2008.
  • Dennis Sarfate is 41 years old. He came to Baltimore from Houston as part of the package that arrived in exchange for Miguel Tejada. Between 2008 and ‘09, the righty pitched in 77 games for the O’s, mostly out of the bullpen.

This weekend in O’s history

1959 - The Orioles become the first team in major league history to turn a triple play on Opening Day. It takes place against the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium in front of Vice President Richard Nixon.

1970 - Don Buford hits home runs from both sides of the plate as the O’s beat Cleveland 13-1.

1976 - Jim Palmer outduels Red Sox ace Ferguson Jenkins in a 1-0 win for the Orioles on Opening Day.

1998 - Cal Ripken’s seventh-inning homer gives the O’s their seventh straight win, a 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals.