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Thursday Bird Droppings: An Orioles off day to try to move on from the pitching shambles

A significant chunk of the bullpen was awful and maybe we shouldn’t expect any better than that

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Baltimore Orioles
There was entirely too much of this on Wednesday.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, friends.

The good news is that yesterday’s loss to the Guardians still only counts as one loss. As bad as it was, and it was mighty bad from a pitching standpoint, that’s it. It was one game. The Orioles went from 35-20 to 35-21. Check out Andrea’s recap of the game for more of the not-so-lovely totals.

There was a lot that was not-so-lovely, which is always a shame when the O’s managed to score eight runs in a game where the other team’s starter was of the caliber of Shane Bieber. We’ve seen similar already this season - there’s a lot in common with the one where the Orioles scored five runs off of Gerrit Cole and still lost that game to the Yankees.

In that case, starting pitcher Kyle Bradish’s sudden immolation in the fifth inning went a long way towards the loss. There were a number of culprits on Wednesday, essentially anyone who came in to pitch. Keegan Akin was not successful as the opener, allowing a run while pitching just an inning. Austin Voth was not successful as the bulk guy after the opener, clearing just 2.1 innings even while staked to a big lead. Cionel Pérez, Mychal Givens, and Mike Baumann all contributed to the failure in their own ways.

That’s five guys who sucked! You can’t win many games where you send out five pitchers and they suck. This is even more true when the pitching staff lays a complete egg against what still is, even after two games of roughing up the O’s, still the lowest-scoring offense in baseball. With 200 runs scored, Cleveland is equal to the 12-46 Athletics.

The problem for the Orioles pitching staff going forward is that these weren’t exactly one-off fluke bad games from some of these guys. Akin’s been rough all year. Voth has done yeoman’s work at times but it’s now June 1 and he has a 4.71 ERA. No reliever with an ERA that high at this time should have a lock on a roster spot. Pérez has been allowing baserunners aplenty all year. Givens has looked to be cooked since coming off the injured list.

If none of those four guys stepped onto the plane to San Francisco, it would be hard to lose any sleep over that. Are the Orioles in a position to make such a wholesale shuffle to their pitching staff and still come out with something good on the other side? That may be the big question now. They probably now wish they could have called up Cole Irvin to start yesterday’s game, but that wasn’t a choice since he’s still within the 15-day option window, where he can’t be recalled except as the corresponding move for someone going to the IL.

The next time the #5 starter spot comes around, that won’t be the case any more. We can only hope Irvin’s improved whatever needed to be improved since his few disastrous starts in April.

What do they do from here? Bringing up Nick Vespi, who’s getting good Triple-A results, and pulling the plug on Pérez, seems like a good and immediate first step. This is the pitcher Pérez was before his one magical year last year. Reverting to that form is sad, but that’s how it goes with relievers. Don’t get too attached.

Immediate subs for others are less apparent. The 40-man relievers in Norfolk are Noah Denoyer and Logan Gillaspie. The former has not pitched well for the Tides. The latter has not pitched well for the Orioles. Long relief/fifth starter options Drew Rom and Spenser Watkins have had poor results down there. If the Orioles feel desperate enough to get really wacky, non-40-man relievers Reed Garrett and Eduard Bazardo have some nice back of the baseball card stats.

Desperation is not generally the modus operandi for the Mike Elias front office. He is not someone to overreact to small samples, nor should he, but for a number of these pitchers it’s not a small sample now, and for someone like Givens, though it is still a small sample, it seems to be a substantially diminished velocity. He’s down 3mph on the fastball since just two years ago, and his command stinks. Maybe he’s in “stick a fork in him” territory. It happens to all major leaguers eventually and Givens is now 33.

None of this is even getting directly into problems that might be posed by the bullpen workload ending up burning out relievers who have been better up to this point. The Orioles went 16-12 in May and they have that 35-21 record overall. These are both important points of perspective. Things have gone well up to this point. Even if we take the expected win-loss record of 31-25, that’s still a 90-win pace for this team. We should all be happy to take 90 wins. But it is hard to see them continuing to go anywhere near so well if something doesn’t stabilize with the parts of the bullpen who appeared in Wednesday’s loss.

Even if the Orioles do plan one or more roster moves before the start of the San Francisco series on Friday, that probably won’t be announced on today’s off day, so we’ll all have to vent our spleens without anything actually changing today. Being a sports fan is strapping yourself in to a rollercoaster whose tracks you cannot see and whose progress you cannot in any way control. Sometimes it really sucks more than others.

Perhaps the glass half full person can take comfort that the games matter enough to have strong feelings about a loss like yesterday’s. I am not that person. It sucked and I want some signs that things won’t potentially suck like that on a regular basis. And if I don’t get them on Friday and Saturday night then I’ll be even grumpier about it because then I’ll have had to stay up late to see some disaster or other.

How are you feeling about the Orioles right now? Take a load off in the comments below. Just be sure to follow the community guidelines so I don’t have to get more annoyed at you than I currently am at the Orioles.

Around the blogO’sphere

Five Orioles who could be named All-Stars (
I know, that was pretty glum above. Here’s something happier to think about: The Orioles could maybe have multiple All-Star representatives this year. This aspirational list of five possibles doesn’t even include the injured Cedric Mullins. My not-worth-much guess with about six weeks to go: Adley Rutschman and Yennier Cano.

May has tested the Orioles ability. The next few weeks will test their resolve. (The Baltimore Sun)
As my long-ago podcast companion Andrew_G reminded me, “They’re all tests, Mark.” He was right then and it’s still true: Once you’re good, everything’s a test until you fail enough that you’re not good any more.

Hicks debuts, leaves with cramps (Baltimore Baseball)
I was quite negative on this website about the addition of Aaron Hicks. His Orioles debut saw him get two hits and draw one walk, so his OBP with the team is 1.000. He also got cramps and couldn’t finish his first game. That was a long game, so okay. But also, you know.

Aaron Hicks talks about joining Orioles (Steve Melewski)
Not yet used to players joining the Orioles from elsewhere and talking about how good everyone on the team is and it’s true and not just what they “have” to say.

“I Think You Should Leave” brings out the goofier side of Orioles star Adley Rutschman (The Baltimore Banner)
There weren’t many fun opportunities to get to know players personalities in the recent dark years. Not much cheerful to bring out - and plus who wanted to get too attached?

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

The most recent Orioles victory on this day came just last year. The team beat the Mariners, 9-2, to improve to 22-30 on the season. This win was the first in what became the first winning Orioles month since August 2017. Rougned Odor, Ryan Mountcastle, Ramón Urías, and Trey Mancini all homered for the O’s in the win.

There are a pair of former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2019 reliever Tayler Scott, and Maryland native and 1955-57 pitcher Ray Moore. Moore passed away in 1995 at age 68.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: longtime Supreme Court justice John Marshall Harlan (1833), actor Andy Griffith (1926), actress Marilyn Monroe (1926), actor Morgan Freeman (1937), model and host Heidi Klum (1973), and comedian/actress Amy Schumer (1981).

On this day in history...

In 1215, the Chinese Jin dynasty capital of Zhongdu was captured by Mongols led by Genghis Khan. Zhongdu today is still the capital, though now it’s known as Beijing.

In 1792, Kentucky became the 15th state, and exactly four years later, Tennessee became the 16th state.

In 1918, during World War I, the German Army launched an attack that was halted in Belleau Wood, France by American defenders. This began a nearly month-long battle for the wood that saw 1,811 Americans killed before the Germans were forced back. The modern reputation of the Marines as a fierce fighting force was born out of their reputation from this battle.


And that’s the way it is in Birdland on June 1. Have a safe Thursday.