5-2 over thelr last 7 games, the Baltimore Orioles are 27-15 overall through roughly 25% of their 2023 season.
Should the O’s go 60-60 over their remaining 120 games, they’d figure to be right in the mix for the post-season.
As it is, the Orioles are the leading Wild Card in the American League, with their American League East foes Toronto, and New York currently holding the 2nd and 3rd Wild Card positions.

With each passing day, two realities continue to become more clear.
First, the ability to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016 is completely within reach.
Second, the existing roster is going to need to be augmented with an external addition or two to be a plausible World Series contender.

Quick Hits: 

1) I thought there was a strong chance the O’s would have the American League’s 2023 Rookie of the Year. I didn’t expect Yennier Cano to look like the most likely possibility in the middle of May. He’s 3rd on the team in fWAR, and leading all ML relievers in Wins Probability Added.

2) Is Tyler Wells the O’s ‘Ace’?  That’s what my Dad suggested to me the other day. Initially it struck me as odd.  I think that was largely due to my preexisting expectations for Wells. I’ve looked at him as ideally a reliever, and a spot starter. Mainly because he’s turning 29, and didn’t have some overwhelming pedigree. But while appreciating his consistency, I really haven’t given him enough credit for just how good he’s been so far this year.  47 innings, 25 hits, 9 walks, 39 k’s.  The primary knock would be the 8 homers allowed. LHH have a .553 OPS in 74 ab’s.  RHH have a .489 OPS in 90 ab’s. His fastball spin rate is in the 90th percentile overall.  Is he an Ace? Guess it’s how you define it.  I don’t think anyone would consider him elite. I think most people would conservatively look at him, and believe his future is more likely in the back of a rotation or in a ‘pen.  But here on May 17th, he’s pitching better than any other O’s starter and should get credit for that.

3) Fun series this past week vs. the Rays.  Great taking 2 of 3 vs. Tampa Bay at home.

4) The Splash Zone is the latest example of a young team having fun.

5) On Monday, Kyle Stowers was sent back to Norfolk for the second time this year. Have seen lots of comments of, “I’m done with him, he’s a AAAA player.”   Those feel like jump to conclusion comments for me. He’s struggled over 30 ab’s.  30 ab’s is nothing. Does anyone really think he’s an .067 hitter? Of course not, Everyone knows there is more there, even if you are skeptical of how much. The difficultly though is that the O’s are trying to win games right now. And the O’s aren’t in position to let him work out the kinks and get going.  He goes back to the Tides, and again will have to mash his way back to Baltimore.

6) When does Colton Cowser get a look?  Over 139 ab’s at Norfolk, Cowser’s splits are .331 / .469 / .554.   Could bring him up, put him in LF, and shift Hays to RF, with Santander getting most of his ab’s at DH.

7) Gunnar Henderson has struggled overall so far here in ’23.  That’s apparent to everyone. But overall, I find it encouraging that he has a .691 OPS in a stretch where he’s had trouble making regular contact. 43 k’s in 114 ab’s isn’t acceptable, but at some point he figures to get hot, and see that ratio improve.  With Urias on the IL, he’s playing everyday at 3rd, and his defense seems to be improving. He had a fantastic play last night vs. the Angels.  He has hits in each of the last 4 games, with 3 xbh’s.  Maybe the bat is on the verge of breaking out?

8) Jorge Mateo ended a recent hitless steak last night.  He’s now 1 for his last 16, 5 for his last 43.  It’s funny how things even out.  He’s not the 1.043 OPS guy he was in April, nor is he the .292 OPS guy he has been so far here in May.  He’s got a .307 on-base % currently.  That’s not ‘good’, but it’s what every O’s fan would have signed-up for from him before the season began. If he can stay at that level, combined with his defense and speed – he’s a valuable player.   What’s crazy is that as good as he was in April, if he’s cold for another month; he’s in some danger of starting to lose some ab’s at SS to Joey Ortiz.

9) Grayson Rodriguez allowed 8 er over 3.1 innings Monday night vs. the Angels.  I’m not blaming O’s Manager Brandon Hyde for his outing, but I’m not sure why Hyde didn’t pull Rodriguez prior to Ohtani’s 4th inning homer. Seemed clear it wasn’t Rodriguez’s night. We kept telling people before the year, the expectation should be that Rodriguez pitches like a league average 5th starter this year, who occasionally flashes. He’s made 8 starts. 5 of them have been acceptable.  3 have been pretty abysmal.  In my opinion, it’s an easy call right now to continue handing him the ball.  But the implosion ratio has to improve the next Month. You can only have so many nights where you are immediately taken out of games, before you have to start weighing other options. Getting knocked out early doesn’t just impact that night, but also the subsequent days with the bullpen being extended.

10) Cedric Mullins had the 7th Cycle in Orioles history Friday night. For the year, his OPS is up to .816. He’s leading the O’s in fWAR at 1.5.

11) Dean Kremer allowed 3 er in 11.2 combined innings against Tampa Bay and the Angels. That coming off his quality outing in Atlanta on Cinco de Mayo.  Kremer has a 2.04 era here in May, and is now 5-1 overall.

12) Cole Irvin is back up in the Majors, adding depth to the pen. Would still think he’s line for regular starts at some point this year.  I can picture Irvin and John Means helping the rotation during the year, and DL Hall (with Dillon Tate, and Mychal Givens) helping the bullpen. That group can be a boost to the existing pitching staff – but I believe the O’s need go outside the organization for one front-end starter.

13) Austin Hays has a .810 OPS over 134 ab’s. He’s crushing RHP (.865 OPS, 90 ab’s). 87th percentile in Exit Velocity. 85% percentile in Barrel Rate. He’d be at higher WAR, if his defense was rated higher. He’s currently at -2 in Outs Above Average in LF, and -3 in OAA overall.  Also -3 in Defensive Runs Saved (was +4 last year), and -7.5 in UZR / 150 (was +4.7 last year).

Next 7 Games:

5/17 – 5/18 vs. LA Angels (2 games)
5/19 – 5/21 @ Toronto (3 games)
5/23 – 5/24 @ New York Yankees (2 games)

Ideally you beat LA tonight, and give yourself an opportunity to win the series tomorrow.
As we mentioned at the top, the O’s are currently the lead Wild Card in the AL, with their division foes Toronto and New York in the 2nd and 3rd spots.
The day off on the 22nd could be helpful. Over those two series vs. the Jays and Yankees, you’d feel great if you could go 3-3 overall.

Chris Stoner
Chris Stoner

Owner

Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.

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