September struggles and the final season series

The Orioles are down to their last three games of the season and it can’t be said that they’re stumbling to the finish.

To stumble would require a semblance of footing.

They’ve lost 16 of their last 20 games and are 7-18 this month. A nasty and abrupt reversal from their 17-11 August record that raised false hopes.

This is more like crawling to the finish line and trying not to be trampled.

The pitching staff has registered a 4.94 ERA this season that ranked 27th in the majors before last night and next-to-last in the American League. The Tigers were bottom dwellers at 5.40.

The rotation’s 5.71 ERA is last in the majors, passing the Reds (5.60). The 1.52 WHIP also is the worst in baseball.

The September numbers further explain why the Orioles will miss the playoffs. The pitching staff has registered a 5.37 ERA, the rotation has posted a 6.46 ERA and the lineup is carrying a .227 average that’s tied with the Rays for lowest in the league. The 80 runs scored also are the fewest in the majors.

Besides continuing the evaluation process, the Orioles will determine this weekend whether they finish in third place or in last. They’re currently tied with the Blue Jays for worst record in the division.

For reasons that can’t be explained, the Orioles are 2-10 on the road on Tuesdays and Fridays. There’s 20 of the 84 losses this season.

Adam Jones back black.jpgAdam Jones could return to the lineup this weekend, though the artificial surface isn’t going to magically cure his legs. If he didn’t play at PNC Park, I’m not sure why he’d be trotted out at The Trop.

Manager Buck Showalter could give Austin Hays a few more starts in center field and keep Anthony Santander in right. The Orioles need to evaluate their Rule 5 pick in the field, since he was restricted from playing it at spring training due to elbow soreness.

I’ll spare you the comparisons between playing right field in the Eastern League and the majors, but they involve third decks, lighting, crowd noise, etc.

The Orioles are 3-3 at Tropicana Field this season, also making them 3-3 indoors when it’s 72 degrees. In Wade Miley’s only start beneath the dome this season, he allowed five runs over six innings in a 5-4 loss on July 25. Tim Beckham hit a three-run homer off him.

Maybe they can reminisce on the team shuttle.

Evan Longoria is 5-for-28 (.179) with 10 strikeouts lifetime against Miley. The hits consist of three doubles and two home runs.

Miley has gone 10-19 with a 5.69 ERA and 1.669 WHIP in 42 starts with the Orioles, and tonight could be his last. They’ve got to decide whether to pick up his $12 million option, and he hasn’t done much lately to entice them, with 12 runs and 10 hits allowed in his last two starts over 4 2/3 innings.

The 5.2 walks per nine innings this season are the most in Miley’s career and it’s not really close. He averaged 3.4 with the Diamondbacks in 2014.

With Mike Wright working three scoreless innings Wednesday night against the Pirates, it became more likely that Miguel Castro would make his first career major league start Saturday night after 75 relief appearances. The Rays are, indeed, listing Castro as the starter.

Castro went from eliminated candidate to the favorite in a couple of days.

The Orioles are expected to bring up another pitcher from their minicamp in Sarasota to replace Castro in the bullpen. The drive to St. Petersburg is a simple one if you avoid rush hour traffic.

Kevin Gausman was supposed to be done after Tuesday’s start, but he’s getting the ball on Sunday. Let him try to go out on a high note. The chorus of pitchers doesn’t need another baritone.

If you’re planning a trip to Florida for spring training - and this is completely unrelated to the above content - the Orioles play the Tigers on March 19 in Lakeland. It’s the only confirmed date so far, but it’s a start.

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