Monday, March 6, 2017

Baltimore Orioles 2017 season preview

    With a record of 89-73, the Baltimore Orioles finished in a tie for 2nd place in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays. The O's also made the wild card game in the AL but lost to the Jays when manager Buck Showalter made a questionable decision to not put in star closer Zach Britton. The Jays then walked off on pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, and won the game. To improve from last year, GM Dan Duquette made some moves. Let's look at what he did.

       Key additions: C Welington Castillo, OFs Seth Smith, Craig Gentry, Logan Schafer, SPs Logan Verrett, Gabriel Ynoa, 2B Johnny Giavotella, 3B Chris Johnson, RPs Vidal Nuno, Richard Bleier.
       Key subtractions: C Matt Wieters, SP Yovani Gallardo, DH Pedro Alvarez, OFs Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce, RP Vance Worley.
       Biggest move: The O's didn't make a ginormous move, but a solid move was acquiring Smith from the Seattle Mariners for Gallardo. There wasn't many MLB player for MLB player deals this offseason, but this was one of them.
        X-factor: They don't have the best rotation, so they need their better pitchers to step up. Their main 2 starters are Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman, and Gausman can decide more playoffs or not. An ERA under 4.00 would be ideal, and the O's are probably setting that as his goal.
         Biggest bounce back: In J.J. Hardy's first 3 seasons with the Orioles (2011, 12 and 13), Hardy hit 30, 22 and 25 home runs. Since then, he's hit 9, 8 and 9. At age 34, the O's at are looking to replace him. If Hardy can hit double digits in the HR category, he can have the starting job for at least another year.
         Biggest breakout: Starter Dylan Bundy was a top prospect at one point. After a couple of injuries in the minors, Bundy finally pitched for the big club (he did pitch way back in 2012, but only for 1.2 innings). In 109.2 IP, Bundy had an ERA of 4.02 and 104 Ks. He's currently 24 years old, and can turn into a dependable starter if he has a good 2017.
         Guaranteed star: 3B Manny Machado is just 24, and is already a star. In 2016, he played some SS, his natural position, and 3B. He hit .294, 37 HRs, and 96 RBIs. He'll be even better in 2017.
          The O's starting lineup should look like this:

          1. LF: Hyun Soo Kim/ Joey Rickard (platoon)
          2. 3B: Manny Machado
          3. CF: Adam Jones
          4. 1B: Chris Davis
          5. DH: Mark Trumbo
          6. 2B: Jonathan Schoop
          7. C: Welington Castillo
          8. RF: Seth Smith
          9. SS: J.J. Hardy

        Their starting rotation will probably be:
         1. Chris Tillman
         2. Kevin Gausman
         3. Dylan Bundy
         4. Wade Miley
         5. Ubaldo Jimenez

        LF Joey Rickard or LF Hyun Soo Kim (whoever isn't starting, because if pitcher is LHP, then Rickard plays, if RHP, Kim plays), 3B Ryan Flaherty, OFs Trey Mancini, Craig Gentry and C Caleb Joseph will be on the bench.
        Zach Britton will be their closer, with Darren O'Day and Brad Brach setting him up.   
        I think the O's will be in wild card contention again, but miss by nothing more than 2.0 GB.

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