The Orioles are 13-28 and for now stuck at the bottom of the American League East. It is a record that would indicate that the team’s management should at least consider rebuilding the roster. Having several players that can become free agents at the end of the year could hasten such a decision.
But so far we have not heard anyone from the club say that rebuilding is in the plans, even if it is being discussed behind the scenes. We have not heard that the team could begin to look more and more to the future as the 2018 season rolls on.
But when I interviewed executive vice-president Dan Duquette on Sunday on the Orioles’ flagship radio station, 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, he hinted that the club could soon begin looking to the future. He was my guest on “Orioles Baseball Tonight.”
“We’ve got some work to do on our ballclub for this year and the future and we are always doing that,” Duquette said. “To me, it is a question: Are you going to put more resources into winning now or put more resources into winning later? These issues are cyclical for ballclubs all over the league. Fortunately in Baltimore, we have a great fan base and if we communicate effectively what it is we’re trying to do, I’m sure they’ll support the club.”
When asked further about possibly seeing some minor league players moved up later this season, Duquette threw some props to several players, including DJ Stewart, Cedric Mullins, Ryan Mountcastle, Keegan Akin and Hunter Harvey. Others, like Austin Hays, could certainly be added to that list, and the team has sure noticed the solid pitching from the staff at Single-A Delmarva.
So we could see a youth movement as this season goes on.
“I think you have to look at that,” Duquette said. “A lot of that is determined with the timing and the skill development of the players you have.”
Duquette got an in-person look at Delmarva’s Michael Baumann recently. The right-hander, drafted in round three out of Jacksonville University last June, took a 4-0 record and a 1.74 ERA into his start last night.
I watched him throw this week,” Duquette said. “The kid threw a 94, 96 mph fastball with a good overhand curve. And then as soon as a guy got on base, he threw that fastball down in the zone and got a double play. He has the stuff and he showed he knew what to do with some situational awareness.”
Then, one day after Duquette provided that answer, Baumann pitched another strong game. He held Columbia to two hits in seven scoreless innings last night, with no walks and eight strikeouts. Over seven outings, he is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.42.
Speaking of pitchers, the Orioles put Chris Tillman on the 10-day disabled list Friday with a lower back strain. Tillman is 1-5 with a 10.46 ERA in seven starts. In his past two starts, he allowed a combined 13 runs over 2 1/3 innings.
While Duquette acknowledged that the team is likely to pitch Tillman in the minors in injury rehab starts, he stopped short of saying Tillman will definitely return to the 25-man active roster.
“I would expect he would need an outing or two in the minors and then we could decide the next step,” Duquette said. “We don’t have to decide that today. We’ve given him a lot of opportunity to contribute to the team.
“With Chris, because he was like our ace pitcher and because he is a veteran pitcher, you want to give him the opportunity to find his rhythm that made him a top pitcher and that is what we’ve been trying to do. Having said that, if you are going to operate a team, you have to have a certain standard for pitching and results, and so far this year, Chris hasn’t had the results to get near that standard. But we’ve had a lot of patience to try and have been working to get him back on track and we’ll continue to do that.”
The Orioles play a National League team tonight for the first time in 2018 when they host the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s a two-game series to end what has so far been a 5-2 homestand where the Orioles have scored 58 runs.
The Orioles went 8-12 against the NL last season. They last played the Phillies in 2015, going 3-1, including a 2-0 mark at Camden Yards. That included the Orioles’ 19-3 win on June 16, 2015 when they hit a single-game club record eight home runs. The Orioles had hit seven in a game three times, but never eight until that game when Manny Machado and Chris Parmelee hit two each. The Orioles also got homers from Jimmy Paredes, David Lough, Ryan Flaherty and Chris Davis.
Philadelphia is 23-16 and challenging for the top spot in the NL East. Since starting 3-5, Philly is 20-11 and has won five of its last six games.
More on the minors: Single-A Delmarva won again last night behind Baumann’s strong outing, 1-0 at Columbia. Each team had just two hits. Lefty Zach Muckenhirn pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts at the end to get his third save. Baumann’s seven-inning outing was a career high and he tied his career best in allowing just two hits - both singles. Baumann struck out the side in the last of the fifth on just 11 pitches as Delmarva recorded its fourth shutout. On the season, he has pitched 38 innings allowing 23 hits with 13 walks and 47 strikeouts.
Delmarva, which improved to 25-12, scratched out the game’s only run in the first inning. Leadoff man Kirvin Moesquit walked and then stole second. That was his Orioles organization-leading 14th stolen base. He advanced to third on a grounder and scored on T.J. Nichting’s grounder to score what would prove to be only run of the night.
The game between Double-A Bowie and Harrisburg was suspended by rain in the third inning at Bowie’s Prince George’s Stadium with Harrisburg leading 6-0. They’ll resume the game tonight at 5:05 p.m. After it’s completed, the teams will play a seven-inning second game. Right-hander Michael Kelly started for the Baysox and did not get an out, allowing four runs in the first.