The Baltimore Orioles have the best record in the American League and, at this point, it would take a pretty awful final few months for them to fall out of a playoff spot. But even with all of the success they have found this year, it’s no surprise to anyone who has watched them that their pitching needs help.
Outside of maybe the best closer in baseball, Félix Bautista, the relief pitching is in shambles. Yennier Cano at best needs to rest to be effective down the stretch. At worst, the league has him completely figured out. I personally feel it’s the former. The rest of the bullpen is frightening to think about because you never know what you’re going to get. The losses of Dillon Tate and Mychal Givens are huge and the gap they have left hasn’t yet been filled.
It’s imperative that Mike Elias trade for at least one more relief pitcher in addition to Shintaro Fujinami, who was already acquired. Honestly, he probably needs to trade for two more. Because even if the team gets to the playoffs with the current set of relievers, it’s hard to imagine them getting far against other playoff teams without a more reliable bullpen.
In addition to relief pitchers, the Orioles could also use an addition to the starting rotation. Kyle Bradish, last night notwithstanding, has been very good. Tyler Wells has been good but is struggling of late. The others have been up and down and all of them, other than Kyle Gibson, have surpassed or are coming up on their career high in innings pitched in a season.
The trade deadline is less than a week away, and yesterday three emails found their way to my inbox about possible trade targets for the Orioles. Because the sports world seemingly revolves around betting these days, these emails were from betting sites. I’m not generally a betting person, but the names caught my attention anyway.
Relief pitcher David Bednar is having an outstanding season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was an All-Star and in 32 games he has a dazzling 1.15 ERA, 1.98 FIP, and 5.22 K/BB. He’s also not a free agent until 2027, which will drive up his price. He would look really good in the Orioles’ bullpen.
The oddsmakers at BetPennsylvania.com think that Bednar is most likely to stay with his current team, but they do list the Orioles as his second-most likely landing spot if he does leave the Pirates. It probably won’t happen, but it sure would be a good look for the team if it did.
The Yankees traded Montgomery to the Cardinals last summer. He was a solid pitcher for the Yankees and has remained so with the Cardinals. In 20 starts this year, the 30-year-old pitcher has solid numbers across the board with a 3.37 ERA and 3.59 FIP. He’s a free agent after this season and the Cardinals have been surprisingly bad this season. At 45-57, their playoff hopes are non-existent so they’ll be sellers.
BetMissouri.com has given the Orioles +350 odds and a 22.2% chance of landing with the Orioles. They rank them as the most likely team for him to land at if he is traded, and he’d be a nice fit on the Orioles.
Another starting pitcher, Paul Blackburn, has been given +500 from BetCalifornia.com odds to be traded to the Orioles. He is most likely to stay with his team, the Oakland Athletics. Blackburn would be an underwhelming trade acquisition because he is not very good. He has a 5.06 ERA this season and, in parts of seven seasons with the A’s, has compiled a 5.09 ERA. Not great!
Blackburn’s FIP is consistently lower than his ERA, especially this year when it is a respectable though still not great 3.91. He isn’t a free agent until 2026, so if the Orioles’ brain trust sees something in him they think they can fix, maybe they’d be interested. But mostly I think he would be a pretty poor option.
I know these names just scratch the surface of possibilities, this is just meant to start a conversation. Who do you think the Orioles should target? And is that the same or different from who you think Mike Elias will go for?
Soon enough we’ll know what he has up his sleeve to improve the team down the deadline. Will it be one of these players? Who the heck knows? All I do know is that the Orioles got good faster than expected. Last year it made sense not to go big at the trade deadline, but that was last year. Time to go for it.