With Memorial Day approaching; the Baltimore Orioles are 32-17 overall, and have won 5 of their last 7 games. Three of those wins being a sweep at AL East Division rival Toronto.
The Orioles are in the Top 5 of everyone’s Power Rankings, with ESPN, CBS Sports, and USA Today being three examples. That’s understandable, given the O’s are currently on pace for 106 wins, and their .653 Winning Percentage trails only Tampa Bay.
The O’s are:
3 GB of the Rays for the East lead.
4 games ahead of NY for the 1st Wild Card.
15-8 at home.
17-9 on the road.
+43 Run Differential.
Including tonight’s game in NY, there are 113 games left on the O’s 2023 schedule.
If the Birds go 57-56 the rest of the way (a .504 winning percentage); the O’s would finish this season with 89 wins.
I don’t expect the Orioles to maintain the existing 106 win pace, but 90-95 wins is certainly in play.
1) FanGraphs now has the O’s with a 45.6% chance of making the post-season, and a 1.4% chance of winning the World Series. The post-season odds trail the odds for NY, and Toronto; with the O’s currently projected at 86 wins. Give me the over on the win total.
2) The Toronto sweep got a lot of attention locally and Nationally, with headlines about it serving as a statement. You don’t want to get too far out on the skis with a series in May; but being able to put the foot on the throat of a divisional opponent while on the road is a nice feeling. Toronto’s a quality team. The Orioles were able to extend the early gap between the two teams. Overall, we went into May thinking if the Orioles could play .500 ball for the Month, that would be great given the step-up in competition. So far this Month they are 13-8, and truly looking like one of the best teams in the game.
3) With as good as the O’s have played overall, it still feels like the roster could use an additional stick, one more capable starter, and another reliable high-leverage arm in pen. Is that wish list realistic?
Mychal Givens has joined the roster. And while his velocity is down from both career marks, and his ’22 averages so far in his 3 outings here in ’23; I still think he can help the team. At-best though, he’s a 6th and 7th inning guy, and not someone who you are going to want to use interchangeably with Felix Bautista and Yennier Cano in the highest leverage spots.
Same thing for Dillon Tate, who seems more likely to be optioned back to AAA Norfolk, vs joining the ML roster now that his 30 day rehab stint has ended.
If John Means rejoins the O’s rotation in July, and if the Orioles target another SP in-trade; it seems to me that maybe Grayson Rodriguez and Kyle Bradish might get sometime in the O’s pen this year. They’d certainly have a chance to just overwhelm hitters in shorter outings. DL Hall could similarly see time as a ML reliever this year, if promoted from AAA Norfolk.
As far as adding a bat, where would you target?
If Jorge Mateo continues to struggle (he’s been horrendous offensively in May), he figures to be replaced internally by Joey Ortiz.
Adam Frazier is carrying a .765 OPS after his 3 run shot last night. if he cratered, he’d probably be replaced by Jordan Westburg or Ramon Urias.
Gunnar Henderson has a .808 OPS in May, and is at .727 overall, despite his .206 batting average. He’s not leaving the lineup, they’re going to rightfully stick with him.
Not replacing Adley Rutschman, Cedric Mullins, or probably Anthony Santander in the lineup.
Austin Hays has a .835 OPS currently. If he gets injured, or slumps; maybe there is a change; but Colton Cowser getting promoted seems more likely than targeting a replacement via trade.
Maybe Ryan Mountcastle? I’ve written previously this season, I’d be good with a short-term extension there. Offensively, he’s never going to walk, and his on-base % is average dependent, but the power is legit.
Maybe you’d like someone a bit less streaky? He’s crushing LHP, but really struggling vs. RHP. He does lead the O’s with 11 homers.
The 3rd Wild Card keeps a lot of teams within striking distance of the post-season if they don’t completely flame out. In the American League, we can thank the Kansas City Royals, and Oakland A’s for their participation in this ’23 season, but they are safely eliminated from anything. In the National League, the Colorado Rockies have a league-worst .420 winning percentage, but they are only 4GB of the 3rd Wild Card.
How many teams will be putting their guys up for sale at the trading deadline?
Anyone you want on the Royals or A’s?
Oakland’s 28 year old LF Brent Rooker is having a big year. The RHH is hitting both lefties and righties. The cost to obtain shouldn’t be tremendous there, and he could be in the Corner OF / 1st / DH mix.
KC’s Carlos Hernandez could be a decent target for the pen. So could Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is now 35, but you’d love his experience with Bautista and Cano.
4) For the record, while I suggested Rodriguez and Bradish might eventually be helping the O’s in relief this year; I’m not down on either one. In fact, I really like them both. Nice job from Grayson this past weekend in Toronto. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled against a very capable lineup.
5) By fWAR, Mullins was a 5.9 player in 2021. So far in ’23, he’s at a team leading 1.9. Compared to ’21, his walks are up, his k’s are down. His ISO is about the same. His wOBA is identical. A very strong start to this year for the O’s CF.
6) In May Dean Kremer is 3-0, with a 1.96 era. He’s thrown 23 innings, allowing 25 hits, 2 homers, with 6 bb’s, and 18 k’s.
7) The Orioles are 7th overall in run scored, 8th in on-base %, and 9th in slugging %.
8) The O’s are 14th overall in era, and tied for 20th overall in quality starts (13).
9) We mentioned last week that Tyler Wells was giving up too many homers. He’s now up to 13 homers allowed on the year. Still, you love the hits per IP (36 hits in 57 innings) and low walks (12 on the year).
10) One of the things I like about the O’s right now, is that I don’t see a lot of performances that seem crazily inflated.
Cano’s numbers are off the charts. Given how insanely good he’s been, it’s beyond reasonable to expect some regression there.
But he’s been so good, that even if he steps back some, he could still be very good.
Frazier is giving you a little more than expected, but not vastly inflated from his career averages.
Hays probably isn’t going to hit .308 all year, but a healthy Hays can hit.
11) What did you think about the Orioles City Connect jersey? I’m pretty indifferent.
12) James McCann has a .182 average, and a .509 OPS in 66 ab’s, but I like him. It’s just not easy playing once a week. It seems to me he has better ab’s than the numbers indicate.
13) Kyle Gibson is on the mound tonight, as the O’s will attempt to take 2 of 3 in NY before coming home. Gibson is coming off of his best start as an Oriole, where he allowed 1 er over 7 innings last Friday night in Toronto.
Next 7 Games:
5/25 @ NY
5/26 – 5/28 vs. Texas
5/29 – 5/31 vs. Cleveland
The Rangers are leading the AL West at 31-18. Baltimore took 2 of 3 in Texas earlier this year.
Cleveland is 7 games under .500, but only 4.5 GB of Minnesota in the AL Central.
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.