Baltimore Orioles Victory Number 49: 8-2 over the Detroit Tigers
2018 Bowman Prospects Hunter Harvey Sky Blue Parallel #214/499
The dream of 60 wins is starting to fade. Without a dramatic push to end the season it's unlikely the O's are going to hit the magic number of 60 wins (or even 59) which would allow me to cash a ticket in Las Vegas. That's sad. So sad. The good news is that every win puts them one better than last year which should be seen as an improvement. Some of the wins are coming with players who are going to be a part of the next year's continuing rebuild.
It's fun seeing an outfield of Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, and D.J. Stewart knowing that next year that trio could spend most of the season together. The infield is still a question mark, Jonathan Villar. Did he have a solid enough of a year to generate some interest on the trade market during the off-season? Are the O's going to sell high on Hanser Alberto or Renato Nunez? Is Rio Ruiz an everyday player? So much fun!
The biggest question marks, and the biggest obstacle to the rebuild, is going to be the pitching staff. The Orioles need to find five or six pitchers to start games next year and another seven or eight to fill out the bullpen. There should be plenty of competition for those spots.
The first three spots in the rotation should be:
Means has had a breakout rookie season and gives the Orioles an actual left-handed starter that can win games. Bundy may have been usurped by Means as the ace of the staff, but he does seem to be adjusting to life without a 96MPH heater. Cobb has made 31 starts in the first two years of his four year contract with the Orioles. That's not great. They need him to average that many over the final two to even come close to making that deal tolerable. (I'm kidding, even if he wins the Cy Young that contract will remain brutal).
So who fills in the other two spots? Unfortunately for the fans, it's unlikely to be any of the top prospects. Keegan Aiken and Dean Kramer may get a chance with a strong spring training, but the O's don't seem to be in a hurry to rush anyone along. They may join the kids in Bowie (Zac Lowther, Michael Baumann, and Alex Wells) as mid-season call-ups. Grayson Rodriguez is a September call-up at best, well unless he treats AA and AAA batters with the same disdain as he has everyone else he's faced so far in his pro career.
It'll be interesting to see if they keep any of their waiver claims/international money trades starters that they picked up along the way this season. Asher Wojciechowski and Aaron Brooks have had moments this summer. They haven't had the consistency that I'm sure manager Brandon Hyde would like to see, but they've pitched well enough to at least have a shot next season at making the rotation.
As for the bullpen, their collective performance this season wasn't good enough. That might not be a bad thing. If Miguel Castro and Mychal Givens had continued their progression they might have been with the team after the trade deadline. They have a chance to rebuild their value next season and fill out some late inning roles.
The man pictured above (pre-glorious mullet) has injected a little fun into the bullpen late in the season. Flashing a 100 mph heater and some top-shelf breaking pitches, Harvey has shown the stuff of a future closer. Eleven strikeouts in 6.1 innings is a fun stat. The big question mark will be if his arm can hold up to an entire season's worth of pitches. So far the answer is no (87.2 innings is the most he's thrown in a season and that was way back in 2014).
He's only been a reliever for a short time, so it is possible that the move to the bullpen may keep him healthy. Harvey did go 10 days between appearances recently as the team was cautious with some forearm discomfort he was feeling. No need to risk a major injury in a lost season, but it would be nice to see him finish the season strongly.
It will be interesting to see which of the lefty relievers make the squad next year. Paul Fry has struggled recently and Richard Blier has had a blah kind of season. Tanner Scott is young and throws really hard, but he doesn't always know where it's going. He's walking 7.2 hitters per nine innings. That's not great when you're coming in for high-pressure situations.
As for the righties? Who the hell knows? The Orioles have a lot of prospects that need to be added to the 40-man roster or risk being exposed in the Rule V draft. Some of those spots will most likely come from the Chandler Stephenson's and David Hess' of the roster. Mike Elias will have a busy winter and it will be interesting to see what kind of roster he puts together in 2020.