The Orioles are in a bit of a pickle. They just gave up 27 runs in three games to the Red Sox. They now head to Texas to face a Rangers team that just put up 29 runs in their season-opening series while sweeping the defending NL champion Phillies. If the Boston pattern continues, things are really going to be miserable in Birdland in a few short days. The O’s, at least, have a chance to adjust the story they wrote over their first three games.
This is a Texas team for whom there were higher hopes last year. The Rangers spent big on free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien heading into 2022, then limped along to a 68-94 record. Undeterred, the Rangers added Jacob deGrom this offseason and they’re trying to make something better happen this time around.
That’s the thing about signing big free agents. If you get the right ones, they can help you out for multiple years. Semien and Seager were both good last year and figure to be good again. Each of them is batting over .350 to begin this season. Perhaps eventually the combination of Mike Elias’s philosophy and John Angelos’s checkbook will lead to the Orioles having this same realization. As we know from last offseason’s behavior, this has not yet occurred.
Game 1: Monday, 8:05pm ET, MASN 2
Scheduled starting pitchers: Kyle Bradish (2022: 23 GS, 4.90 ERA, 4.45 FIP, 1.402 WHIP in 117.2 IP)
Jon Gray (2022: 24 GS, 3.96 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 1.131 WHIP in 127.1 IP)
Gray finally accrued enough MLB service time to free himself from the Rockies after the 2021 season. After that, he signed the kind of modest mid-range contract that I wanted to see the Orioles sign this past offseason. This is the second year of Gray’s four year, $56 million contract. In that first year of the deal, he made 75% of a season’s worth of starts and was just slightly below league average ERA when adjusted for park and league (99 ERA+).
The Orioles saw Gray once in 2022, an August 1 outing in which the then-surging O’s bombed Gray out of the game before two innings were out. That game, like this one, was played in Texas. Cedric Mullins, Ryan Mountcastle, Jorge Mateo, and Adley Rutschman all had multi-hit games. Maybe that’s a good sign or maybe it means nothing.
Bradish faced the Rangers in that same series, two days later. He gave up a run in five innings. It’s most of the same Texas lineup back for 2023. With how the starting pitching has looked in the first Orioles series, they could really use a nice outing from Bradish to get that turned around. Except for one game, he looked good in spring training. The Orioles now really need him to carry those good ones forward into the regular season.
Game 2: Tuesday, 8:05pm ET, MASN 2
Scheduled starting pitchers: Tyler Wells (2022: 23 GS, 4.25 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 1.138 WHIP in 103.2 IP)
Andrew Heaney (2022: 16 G/14 GS, 3.10 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 1.087 WHIP in 72.2 IP)
Until the end of spring training arrived and they actually did it, I did not actually believe that the Orioles would shunt Grayson Rodriguez to the minors and have Wells open the season in the rotation. Wells certainly has more of a big league track record, with a good stretch in May and June last year. Rodriguez’s first Norfolk start did not do anything to make this decision look incorrect. Hopefully Wells’s first Orioles start of the year does not do so either. He did not face the Rangers last year.
Heaney joins Texas after spending the 2022 season with the Dodgers. He made about a half season’s worth of starts, missing two separate chunks of the season with shoulder problems. Heaney was not even able to finish five innings in more than half of his starts. The results were good when he was able to pitch, though, including 110 strikeouts in his 72.2 innings. That’s what got him a $12.5 million contract, larger than any the Orioles gave out this offseason.
The lone lefty starting pitcher the Orioles will face in this series is Heaney. I’ll be curious to see what kind of lineup Brandon Hyde tries to roll out. Facing lefty Chris Sale on Saturday led Hyde to try Ramón Urías in the leadoff spot, with Urías going 0-5 with five strikeouts. Perhaps a less outside-the-box stratagem ought to be employed this time around.
Game 3: Wednesday, 2:05pm ET, MASN 2
Scheduled starting pitchers: Kyle Gibson (5 IP, 4 ER in Opening Day start)
Jacob deGrom (3.2 IP, 5 ER in Opening Day start)
That first start for Gibson looks bad in the box score, but that’s mostly because the official rules and unofficial conventions that govern the scoring of plays that aren’t made in the outfield makes a pitcher more likely to be held responsible for outfield misplays. He could have easily had six shutout innings if the trio behind him had merely played each play competently at worst. It didn’t happen. The Orioles signed this guy to eat innings, so hopefully he can at least start doing that.
Gibson spent 2020 and 2021 with the Rangers, but rebuilds being what they are, he did not overlap with too many current Rangers.
I didn’t watch the Rangers Opening Day game and I have no investment in its outcome. I don’t know if deGrom also deserved better in that start. I’m quite sure the Rangers hoped for better when they signed him. deGrom’s career ERA is an unbelievable 2.55. He had a 3.08 ERA in 11 starts last year. No question that he ought to be better than whatever lineup the Orioles are likely to field in this getaway day game. A fun thing about baseball is that sometimes weird things happen.
If the 2023 season is going to turn out well for the Orioles, a larger percentage of those weird things will have to benefit them than what we saw over the opening series.
If nothing else, I am hoping that whatever was going on in Boston that led to so many mishaps in the outfield will not happen underneath that tin roof in Texas. Without those problems, it would be easier to feel better about the Orioles right now, even if there would still be about as many looming possible problems. How are you feeling right now? Do you think this series will go well for the O’s? Let us know in the comments below.
How many games will the Orioles win in this early April series against the Rangers?
This poll is closed
3 (The Orioles sweep)
0 (The Orioles are swept)