If you haven’t already seen Friday’s big news, D.L. Hall is expected to start tomorrow’s game for the Orioles! Let’s hope they can win tonight and only build more excitement for the debut.
Well, here we are. It’s the middle of August and the Orioles are about to play a crucial three-game series against the Rays. Multiple Camden Chat writers have observed in different venues that this is pretty much the most significant Orioles series that has been played in six years.
It feels right! The stakes are pretty simple. If the Orioles win the series, they will be ahead of the Rays at the end of it, guaranteed to be in one of the AL wild card spots, and holding the season head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rays. Lose the series and they’ll be at least 1.5 games behind the Rays, having to rely on the Rays losing more games the rest of the way with the O’s having no more direct chances to take games out of them.
And with the Orioles heading into this crucial series, they turn to... Austin Voth... in the opener. Why shouldn’t they? He is in their starting rotation and the 30-year-old righty has, improbably given his pre-Orioles 2022 results, been kind of a decent pitcher so far, if not much of an innings eater. Since the O’s have had Voth making starts, he has a 2.97 ERA.
Those kinds of results will play, although if he tops out at five innings - which he has so far - it’s hard to say how helpful that is in the long run. It’s a drag on the bullpen to have to cover four innings per game.
- Cedric Mullins - CF
- Adley Rutschman - C
- Ryan Mountcastle - 1B
- Anthony Santander - DH
- Terrin Vavra - LF
- Austin Hays - RF
- Rougned Odor - 2B
- Ramón Urías - 3B
- Jorge Mateo - SS
This marks just the second MLB start in the outfield for Vavra. Putting Vavra in left field allows all of Santander, Odor, and Vavra to be in the lineup. Does this count as a positive? Odor has hit three home runs in his career against Rays starter Corey Kluber, for whatever this is worth.
Hays has a .583 OPS over the last 14 days. Mountcastle has a .562 OPS over the last 28 days. The Orioles need these bats to wake back up.
- Randy Arozarena - RF
- David Peralta - LF
- Yandy Díaz - 3B
- Brandon Lowe - DH
- Ji-Man Choi - DH
- Yu Chang - 2B
- Christian Bethancourt - C
- Taylor Walls - SS
- José Siri - CF
Waiting to face the Orioles tomorrow is Baltimore’s own Shane McClanahan, who may be an AL Cy Young candidate. Today against Kluber is the one to win, then hope for the best on Sunday. If they can do it and win this series, that will be great. If they can’t, then the final weeks of this season will probably be more waiting to see if the Orioles can win 82 games than waiting to see whether they can clinch a playoff position, unless there’s another absurd winning streak in their future.
The good news about the Orioles is that they may actually be good enough that you can’t rule out another long winning streak, even if they have a difficult schedule coming. But it’ll be better if they can just quietly win more often than they lose and never need the giant winning streak.