Twelve Orioles thoughts approaching late June

0
733

With the Orioles losing two of three to Toronto to fall a season-worst 25 games below .500 over the weekend, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The Orioles are 8-32 since the John Means no-hitter and remain in the midst of a 19-game road losing streak. Losers of 17 in a row entering Monday, Arizona has gone 5-40 since May 2 and owns an active 23-game road slide. Anything you can do, I can do … worse?    

2. Saturday’s ninth-inning meltdown led to a series loss that overshadowed some encouraging individual feats over the weekend. Once again, Cedric Mullins headlined that list with back-to-back two-homer performances, the first coming on his T-shirt night. His All-Star Game case is no longer debatable; he deserves to start.

3. Mullins entered Monday ranked third in the majors in FanGraphs’ wins above replacement for position players (3.5) and seventh in Baseball Reference’s positional WAR (3.2). He’s leading the AL in hits. Over three months remain, but this is a special kind of year not seen here since Manny Machado.

4. Trey Mancini hit his 100th career homer Sunday, a feat he cherished for obvious reasons. As long as the Orioles communicate with him, I can’t blame a rebuilding club for trading a first baseman who will turn 30 next March and hit free agency post-2022, but it’s still a bummer.

5. Ryan Mountcastle continued his red-hot June by joining Nick Markakis as the only Orioles rookies to homer three times in a game. Plate discipline will remain a fair talking point and concern, but watching him pull his hands in and still hit the ball out to center is impressive.

6. Saturday was looking like another rough outing for Dean Kremer after he surrendered long balls to two of the game’s first three batters, but the rookie matched his career high with six strong innings and didn’t allow a hit after the first. That’s impressive work against a really tough lineup.

7. It’s time for young starters to start taking advantage of so many opportunities with Means expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break. You’re disappointed for the Orioles ace, but having a shoulder issue for the third straight season warrants this kind of caution.

8. His absence coupled with Bruce Zimmermann going to the injured list will likely continue to save Matt Harvey for now. When a veteran starter isn’t offering length or even minimal trade value, you can’t justify sending him out there much longer. He last completed five innings on May 1.

9. It’s evident that Anthony Santander (ankle) and Austin Hays (hamstring) aren’t particularly close to 100 percent. Brandon Hyde said they’re “doing the best they can” to play through ailments, but Santander’s inability to catch a shallow pop to right in Saturday’s ninth inning cost Baltimore a win.

10. Chance Sisco being designated for assignment felt inevitable after he was demoted late last month. For all the concern about his defense over the years, a bat-first catcher owning a career .658 OPS isn’t cutting it. Pedro Severino shouldn’t be too comfortable either. Developing pitchers need better behind the plate.

11. Second base remains a black hole as the Orioles rank last in the majors in OPS (.577) and 26th in defensive runs saved at the position. It’s justified to wonder why this club is platooning two utility players in their late 20s at the position this far into a rebuild.

12. I enjoyed seeing Adley Rutschman and a rehabbing Yusniel Diaz at Bowie Friday. Rutschman collected two hits, made a superb catch, and looks the part. With Grayson Rodriguez, D.L. Hall, Mike Baumann, and Terrin Vavra also there, the Baysox are the affiliate to watch. The Four Bagger is good too.