Baltimore Orioles preview: Last season was no fluke
The Baltimore Orioles came into the offseason riding a postseason high. As fans, we expected the signing of one or two free agents to take us over the top.
Well, we were wrong.
Names like Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke and B.J. Upton came and went, and names like Jair Jurrjens, Conor Jackson and Russ Canzler came to the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, the O’s signed, acquired or invited more players to spring training than I have space to list them. General manager Dan Duquette likes to create competition, and with this many players, it should also create farm-system depth which is greatly needed.
Nate McLouth resigned with the O’s after an impressive finish to last season. If Nolan Reimold can stay healthy, he’ll likely share left field with McLouth in a righty/lefty platoon. It may be a better idea to give McLouth more time in the field, and DH Reimold in order to limit his chance of injury.
Baltimore Orioles position players
A big part of Baltimore’s strength this season should be defense. A full season of Manny Machado at third, and the return of a stronger, even if not a 100 percent, Brian Roberts at second should give them consistency. Chris Davis will get the start at first and should be well prepared leaving spring training knowing he’s the starter.
With a couple Gold Glove winners in the outfield, and the return of a healthy Reimold platooning with McLouth, there’s no doubt this team is going into the season with defensive confidence. The defense really came together after the All-Star break last season, and everyone is curious about how strong this team will be with a full season of strength at all positions.
Baltimore Orioles pitching
The Baltimore Orioles are returning with four rotation spots likely filled and a battle for the fifth. Jason Hammel has been named the opening day starter and will be our number one. Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and Wein Chen will return, hopefully to continue they’re success from last season. The fifth spot will be filled by the strongest spring training performance. My money is on Jake Arrieta. He’s been there before, and when he gets first-pitch strikes is capable of going deep in games. There will likely be a short leash, so a revolving door could be a real possibility. Young arms will be beating down the door all season long, so starters will have to perform.
The bullpen will return intact. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to equal last season’s success, but will be strong, and capable of closing out games. Last season, lead by Jim Johnson, the bullpen pulled off a ridiculous amount of one-run and extra-inning wins. Hopefully, they’ll finish games with a little more breathing room this season.
Baltimore Orioles projected lineup
- Brian Roberts
- Nick Markakis
- Adam Jones
- Chris Davis
- JJ Hardy
- Matt Weiters
- Nolan Reimold
- Manny Machado
- Nate McLouth
Baltimore Orioles projected rotation
- Jason Hammel
- Wei Yin Chen
- Miguel Gonzalez
- Chris Tillman
- Jake Arrieta
Baltimore Orioles prospect watch
Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, enough said. I’m not sure how long it will take for them to pitch in the majors full time, but they’ll be worth the wait. One more pitcher who is real close to being a full-time starter is Steve Johnson. He appears to be mature enough now and could be a real possibility as a fifth starter if there’s trouble.
Jonathan Schoop could prove to be Roberts replacement at second base. He may be a couple seasons away, but he could see some playing time if Roberts can’t make it through the season. Worth mentioning is L.J. Hoes. He’s making progress at the plate and has moved to outfield, which could have him as a possible back up in the near future.
Trying to follow up last season’s success is a tall order. The Baltimore Orioles are building for the long haul around a core group of guys. Buck Showalter knows how important team chemistry is and will use the core group to help guide new players to perform at a high level. With the state of the AL East, there’s no reason the Baltimore Orioles can’t be fighting for the division come September.