May is over, the baseball season is getting ready to make its annual pit stop in a little over a month and every team is going to be asking one question, where will we be October? I can’t think of any team pondering that question more than the Orioles. The O’s were in limbo from 1998-2011 when, in 2012, they finally ended a 14 year postseason drought by playing in the league’s first wild card game and beating the Rangers 3-2 but since then, they been the definition of unpredictable. Let’s look at the last five years,
- 2012, wild card
- 2013, N/A
- 2014, A.L. East champs
- 2015, N/A
- 2016, wild card
If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on this team at all. No one really knows if the Orioles will make the postseason; Hell, I don’t think the O’s know for sure until the last game of the season. The Orioles have only won over 90 games two times in 17 years and in a division with the Yankees, Red Sox and upstart Bluejays, mediocre baseball won’t get you to October.
The 2017 season has already seen its ups and downs, from the Orioles starting 15-8 in April to losing Zach Britton for the first half of the season and going from 1st place to 3rd in the matter of a week. However, even with all that happening, the Orioles are only 3.5 games behind the Yankees for first place but the question is, can they pull it off? I wish I could say yes but no, I don’t think these O’s can pull it off. According to Baseball Reference stats, Both Kevin Guasman and Chris Tillman are pitching over a 5 point era, their supposedly top two pitchers can’t keep teams from scoring and Guasman now appears to be another Orioles pitching prospect that doesn’t seem ready to be starting pitcher; he may end up being like Britton and relegated to closer or middle reliever.
This also appears to be the Orioles last good shot at making a run for the title. With the Red Sox and Yankees building through their own farm systems (Red Sox: Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley jr and Andrew Benintendi) (Yankees: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro), they appear to be in the driver seat. Meanwhile, the O’s are hoping they can keep Manny Machado for a hometown discount, J.J. Hardy is on his last leg and Adam Jones has yet to become that playoff all star they were hoping; with only Chance Sisco and Christian Walker as the prospects that seem ready to make it to the majors and I mean “seem”, trying to get first place by the end of the year will be a tall order.
Even though the Orioles are battling to stay above .500 right now, they have dominated Their division with a 21-12 record; however, the out of division record is 8-13 and that brings me to the grim part for the Orioles: the rest of the schedule.
The orioles played a very division heavy first half of baseball with over 60% of their total games to this point. Going forward though, They have 65 out of division games and only 42 left within it and with them losing 60% their out of division games, The Orioles will need to start playing more consistent baseball down the stretch if they want get into the postseason and stay in it. The only reason the O’s have stayed in the race up to this point is because of their strong division record but with a 4-8 record against the Central division and 0-3 record against the west, they would likely need to win every division game to smell the postseason.
MLB champions, for the past 10 years, has been defined by who has the best pitching staff, especially the bullpen guys. The Orioles starting staff has been only consistent in not going 7 innings for the last 10 years and it seems to be catching up with the bullpen this year. They have been the best in the league when it came to bailing out the starters in the past but with a combined 5.17 ERA, at this point, the main flaw for the Orioles is starting to show. Having a guy you can count on to get you a win is paramount to playoff contender; The Orioles are still in it and it’s not out of their grasp but if Guasman and Tillman don’t start getting into rhythm soon, the Orioles could be finding themselves watching Ravens games come October.