Chris Tillman will make the start to close out the last homestand of the 2017 season.
Bundy’s status for next week is uncertain. The Orioles are off Monday and Thursday and make trips to Pittsburgh and St. Petersburg, Fla., for the final five games.
As the veterans inside the Orioles clubhouse try to put a finger on why they’re not going to the playoffs this season, why the final record will fall below .500, they need the entire hand to cover the reasons.
It isn’t just one element that let down everyone and has them playing for pride.
“It was a combination,” said closer Zach Britton. “We didn’t pitch well when we were hitting, we didn’t hit well when we were pitching well, and that’s not normally a combination that’s going to make you very successful. I think we understand why we were eliminated and we’re not going to have a chance to play in the postseason. It’s just about coming in and hopefully we can keep the majority of this group intact. And hopefully add to it.
“We definitely need to add to the team if we want to be successful and get deep in the playoffs. So, hopefully we kind of get back to the drawing board as a team. And guys individually, myself included, get back into a good offseason training program and be healthy.”
Britton made two trips to the disabled list with a left forearm strain and has been shut down with soreness in his left knee that required a stem cell injection.
“For me, at the end of the day, it’s being healthy and being out here to help the team,” he said. “If I was healthy for the whole season, maybe that helps us a little bit going forward. So, you take that on yourself and you try to improve anyway you can in the offseason.”
The Orioles made the playoffs in three of the past five seasons and hadn’t posted a losing record since 2011. Elimination from the wild card race came with last night’s 9-6 loss to the Rays.
“I think disappointing for myself and the team,” Britton said. “We had pretty high expectations, obviously, knowing where we are with the team and the guys approaching free agency. I would say it’s nothing short of disappointing for myself, individual performance, and the team.”
First baseman Chris Davis used a similar descriptive text.
“It’s disappointing, frustrating,” he said. “I think coming into spring training we had a lot of hope, a lot of extremely high expectations, and obviously we fell short of that on a number of things. Whether it’s talking about the postseason, even being a .500 club.
“I was traded here in 2011 halfway through the year and even though we weren’t a playoff team, I felt like we were playing playoff baseball with the way we played the last couple of months. It’s tough, man, it really is. There’s no other way to categorize it.”
“There are a lot of things. I felt like when we really needed to play well and really needed to wrap up some wins, we either pitched well one night and didn’t hit or we scored eight runs and gave up 10. That was just kind of the way our season went throughout the year. For whatever reason, we just couldn’t fire on all cylinders and I think that’s one of the more frustrating things, knowing you have the potential and knowing you have the ability to put it together and just not ever being able to do that.
“You look at what Dylan and Gaus (Kevin Gausman), some of the younger guys did in the starting rotation and it’s got to make you excited for next year. We have a lot of guys coming back, a lot of guys that have been here for several years that have been on playoff teams, and I think that’s something that you have to honor. But we definitely have some work to do.”
Britton’s contract runs out after 2018 and he’s not alone. Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Brad Brach also can become free agents, and Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette aren’t signed beyond 2018. Britton takes the club’s refusal to sell at the non-waiver deadline as a sign that it isn’t conceding the following season.
“I think this trade deadline kind of sent everyone in here a message that whether it was this year or next year that this is going to be our chance to win a World Series,” he said. “I’d be kind of shocked if they traded a guy like Manny in the offseason. I really would. I think their intent is to try to win a World Series next year.”
Britton expects to be along for the ride despite how the Orioles fielded offers for him in July.
“I think there will be interest like there was over this deadline, but it’s up to the organization to decide if they want to do that,” he said. “But my feeling has been if they wouldn’t trade me over the deadline, then there’s probably not a good chance they’ll trade me over the winter. I think they’ll try to keep everyone intact.
“If they do, then they do, but I don’t get the impression that’s the direction they’re going.”
I’ll have more from Davis and today’s pregame comments from manager Buck Showalter in my next blog entry.