In my previous article, I discussed how important it was for the Orioles to take advantage of the seven game home stand, and I don’t think they got the message. The Orioles finished with a 3-7 record, with the Cardinals and Indians both averaging 7 runs a game. Now, the Orioles may have a date with infamy if they give up 5 or more runs to the Tampa Bay Rays on June 24th. A 93-year-old record, and no one in modern baseball probably has even heard of, is right in the Orioles grasp and with how starting pitching has performed, they may break it.
The 1924 Phillies, before the 162-game era, had the worst consecutive pitching streak in MLB history by surrendering 5 or more runs over a 20 game stretch. This was a record that seemed to be untouched and locked away in a vault never to be seen again, but records are meant to be broken. Orioles fans have harped season after season to the front brass to open the purse and get quality pitching through free agency. The Orioles can no longer bank on farm system arms like Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman to bring this team up to par especially since they are not the first two prodigies in recent history that the Orioles have put their hopes on.
Orioles fans remember the hype around Brian Matusz and Zach Britton; they were going to be the next ace duo that was going to lead the Orioles to the promised land but as of 2017, Brian Matusz is no longer in the league and Zach Britton has been relegated to closer. Britton, when healthy, is one the best closers in the game, but he was drafted to be a starting pitcher. The Orioles bullpen is full of guys that should have been starters, but found out quickly they couldn’t pitch effectively for more than 5 innings.
On the horizon, the O’s are expecting to bring up pitchers Cody Sedlock and Hunter Harvey, but they may not appear until at least 2019. Even then, based on previous prospects, they may end up as relief pitchers in the bullpen. It is plain to see that the Orioles have not put too much emphasis on quality pitching scouts and by the same token, an aggressive GM. Baltimore sports fans may have their issues with Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, but the man has shown time and time again that he can draft well and attract quality free agents to the team because they have displayed the aspiration to win and win now.
The expectation of where a team with such potentially historic, bad pitching would be is in dead last and 10+ games away from the division leader, but surprisingly, that is not the case. With all that has gone wrong for the Orioles in June, the Orioles are only 5 games out of first place and only 2.5 games out of a wild card spot. Many fans still have hope that the Orioles are not out of it, for a post All Star break rebound has happened for many teams slumping in the first half of the season, and the Orioles have had their fair share of turnarounds.
The Orioles are capable of a comeback after the break. We saw it in 2014 when the Orioles finished the second half of the season with a .663 winning percentage and an A.L. East division title. The only thing Orioles fans should want to see in the immediate future is not adding another embarrassing record; wasn’t the 30 run blowout by the Rangers in 2007 enough?