A challenge for starting pitchers MLB-wide: The 100-pitch barrier

bradish v MIN

It has become a barrier for starting pitchers in Major League Baseball. A pitch count that reaches 100. We don’t see it very often anymore. Commonplace back in the day, so to speak, not so much anymore.

In fact there are just six teams that average even 90 or more pitches per night from their starters among the 30 clubs in the major leagues right now.

94.1 - Chicago White Sox
92.1 - Houston
91.1 - Washington
91.0 - Toronto and St. Louis
90.6 - Los Angeles Angels

That is the list. No other team averages more than 90 pitches a game from their starters.

The team ranking last is a shocker. It’s Tampa Bay at 74.1. I imagine that's due in part to the Rays' frequent use of openers.

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Round 5 pick showed big tools, plus All-Star, first-half notes and quotes

oriole bird mlb draft

Orioles director of draft operations Brad Ciolek was excited to nab each of the 12 picks the club has made during the first two days of the MLB Draft. The Orioles selected seven pitchers and five outfielders through 10 rounds.

But one player that showed the club especially loud tools and did so in a pre-draft workout at Camden Yards was round five selection, UNC-Charlotte outfielder Jake Cunningham. The right-handed batter and thrower hit .267/.359/.519 this past season with 14 doubles, 11 homers and 41 RBIs. Ranked as the No. 140 draft prospect by Baseball America and No. 147 by MLBPipeline.com, he has hit 29 homers in 146 career college games.

"I think the one name that we were excited about getting him where we did - we're actually ecstatic about all these guys - is Jake Cunningham," said Ciolek. "He was on our radar last year at UNC-Charlotte. He is a tool shed. He has double plus raw power in BP. He is a plus runner and one of those guys that has instincts for center field.

"In a workout at Camden Yards leading up to the draft, he was up to 111 (exit velocity mph) with wood. So, we are very excited to get all these guys, but to get Jake where we got him, coming into the year he did battle some injuries, but we were excited to get Jake where we did."

You can take a look at this story posted yesterday for write ups on all the draft picks from Day 2 with a few more Ciolek quotes there as well.

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O's select University of Washington pitcher in round three (updated with quotes)

Mike Elias OPACY suit

As the MLB Draft resumed today the Orioles selected University of Washington right-handed pitcher Kiefer Lord in the third round at No. 86 overall. He is the second pitcher the Orioles have taken among their first four picks to start this draft. 

The O’s have nine picks today in rounds three through 10. Their No. 100 overall pick is a compensation pick for not signing a third-round pick last year in pitcher Nolan McLean from Oklahoma State. He was today selected No. 91 overall by the Mets. 

Last night the Orioles selected Vanderbilt outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. with their No. 17 overall pick. They added North Carolina third baseman/outfielder Mac Horvath in round two with pick No. 53. They drafted Florida State pitcher Jackson Baumeister with a competitive balance pick that was No. 63 overall. He becomes the highest-drafted pitcher by overall selection in the now five drafts under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.

Click here for more on the Day One picks.

Here are the O’s picks for today with listed slot amount for each.

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After impressive sweep at Target Field, the All-Star break arrives in Birdland


MINNEAPOLIS – It was just last Tuesday, on the Fourth of July. The New York Yankees beat the Orioles 8-4 and had taken the first two games of a four-game series. After losing two of three last weekend and scoring just three runs in three games versus Minnesota, the Orioles had lost six of their past seven.

The Orioles had fallen six games behind Tampa Bay. Catch the Rays? How about try to hold on to a wild-card spot first. Was the season starting to slip away from the Orioles?

Some in Birdland posed such a question.

It looks like a foolish one this morning. Since that loss the Orioles have won five in a row by a 44-9 score. They hit a barrage of six homers yesterday and won 15-2 against a Minnesota pitching staff that began the weekend leading the majors in team ERA at 3.55 and in rotation ERA at 3.54.

Last weekend in Baltimore the Twins held the Orioles to three runs. This past weekend in Minneapolis they “held” the Orioles to 24.

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O's hammer six homers, sweep Minnesota, reach 54-35 at the break (updated)

Hays and Mullins

MINNEAPOLIS – A day that started out with the Orioles striking out often, ended with them pounding the Minnesota Twins 15-2 today behind a barrage of six homers, a few blasted well over 400 feet.

It was a nice way to say goodbye to the first half by saying goodbye to a few baseballs against the pitching staff that began today with the second-best ERA in the majors at 3.56 to Atlanta at 3.55.

The Orioles hit the break at 54-35 with a five-game win streak and they tie a season-high at moving to 19 games above the .500 mark.

The Orioles' .607 win percentage at the break is the eighth-best in team history at this point of the year.

The Orioles scored seven runs in the fifth inning to lead 8-1 and six in the sixth to make it a 14-1 blowout. The six homers are a season-high, doubling up any game this year save for one when they hit a previous season-high four on June 13 versus Toronto.

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No. 1 prospect Jackson Holliday being promoted to Double-A (Mayo & McDermott to AAA)

Jackson Holliday

MINNEAPOLIS – He is less than a year removed from being selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Orioles in the 2022 Major League Draft. And today, as a new draft arrives tonight, shortstop Jackson Holliday is headed to Double-A.

MASNSports.com has learned via a team source that Holliday, who played in the All-Star Futures Game Saturday, going 0-for-1, will play his next game for the Double-A Bowie Baysox moving up from High-A Aberdeen.

Holliday, 19, is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the sport by MLBPipeline.com and No. 2 via Baseball America. He had set a goal to get to Bowie this season and now he has achieved that. 

This move comes with other promotion news as infielder Coby Mayo will move up from Double-A to Triple-A Norfolk and right-hander pitcher Chayce McDermott is also moving from Bowie to Norfolk.

Holliday began this year with Low Single-A Delmarva, but after 14 games there moved to High-A Aberdeen. In 71 games between those clubs, he batted .331/.466/.523/.989 with 17 doubles, six triples, seven homers and 51 RBIs. He controlled the strike zone very well with 64 walks to 67 strikeouts and scored 67 runs with 20 stolen bases.

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O's game blog: Looking to end the first half with a three-game sweep of the Twins

Cedric Mullins home run robbery

MINNEAPOLIS – The Orioles have won their past four games by a combined 29-7 score. And, after a 3-1 win in 10 innings Friday and a 6-2 win on Saturday afternoon, the Orioles can complete a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins this afternoon at Target Field.

The Orioles won the last two games of their series at New York by a 20-4 score and carried that momentum into Minnesota. They are 53-35 for the season and have the American League’s best road record at 27-17. A win today would give them a 5-2 road trip and 54 wins heading into the All-Star break.

The Orioles have three sweeps of three games this season:

* At Detroit April 21-23
* At Toronto May 19-21
* Versus Kansas City June 9-11

Saturday’s win for Baltimore was marked by a six-run top of the second inning. It was a strange game in that the Orioles scored six runs on six hits in that inning, but had no runs and no hits in any other inning yesterday. They went 0-for-24 at-bat outside of the second inning versus Twins pitching.

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Ryan Mountcastle on his return to the O's active roster

mountcastle greets rutschman white

MINNEAPOLIS - It had to be troubling, concerning and maybe a bit scary at times as O’s first baseman Ryan Mountcastle dealt with the impact of vertigo and has not played in the majors since June 8. But he returned to the Orioles active roster today.

While he is not in the lineup, he’s ready to go, feels his swing is in fine shape and is excited to hopefully have this all over with. He said he didn’t have vertigo before this year but believes they got it under control so he can return today to the team.

“This feels like the longest I’ve ever gone without playing (in the majors),” said Mountcastle whose 20-day minor league rehab assignment had one day yet to go. “It wasn’t fun at all. Just happy to be back and feel like a normal human again.

“It was my first time. It hit me in waves. Took longer than I thought, but just happy to be back. Probably like a week or so ago, I felt good. They just wanted to take their time. Came up today and hopefully, I can come off the bench and get an at-bat or two. Feel good, ready to go.”

Mountcastle said this first became something significant for him when the Orioles played in Milwaukee June 6-8.

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O's get on a roll, close first-place gap as first half is about to close

Tyler Wells throws orange away

MINNEAPOLIS - A four-game win streak by the Orioles as the first half is about to end today was a nice response to a 1-6 stretch. Where some feared they could get swept by the Yankees after losing Monday and Tuesday in the Bronx, they are 4-0 since and have outscored their opposition 29-7.

They've won a couple of close games, one in extra innings, gotten four games of clutch hits, had one resounding blowout and one comfortable win and otherwise showed a nice finishing kick. 

They are who you thought they were if you thought that was a solid playoff contender and one with one of MLB's best records. 

Some of Birdland's angst and panic by a few recently was unfounded.

And last night, Atlanta beat Tampa Bay 6-1, handing the Rays a seventh straight loss. The Orioles moved to within two games of first place and the O's and Rays both now have 35 losses. 

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O's big inning, Wells' strong outing lead to win and series victory (updated)

Tyler Wells throws orange away

MINNEAPOLIS – It was unexpected but very welcome. The Orioles got a big inning early in the game against the club with the best team ERA in Major League Baseball. A club they had scored six runs off in four games over the last two weekends.

But their 6-2 victory today over the American League Central-leading Twins was keyed by a huge six-run six-hit top of the second inning. They batted 10 players and five different Orioles drove in runs.

The uprising came against right-hander Sonny Gray, a pitcher who threw six scoreless on two hits against Baltimore batters last Sunday at Oriole Park. A pitcher who entered with a 2.50 ERA that ranked second-best in the AL and third in the majors. A pitcher who had given up three runs or less in 17 of 17 starts this year.

So the big inning was indeed unexpected.

But it lift the Orioles' record to 53-35 and they have won four in a row after losing six of seven. They have the best AL road record, which is now 27-17 and have a winning road trip at 4-2 with one game to go.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win in Minnesota

Tyler Wells

MINNEAPOLIS – The Orioles didn't have a huge night on offense or produce some record-setting numbers last night. They used old school pitching and defense to win.

Cedric Mullins made a great catch in center to rob a three-run homer and that helped lefty Cole Irvin continue to turn his season around with 6 1/3 innings allowing one run last night. When the Orioles broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run top of the 10th, it was enough to beat the first-place Twins 3-1 in the series opener at Target Field.

The Orioles are 52-35 and moved within three games of first in the American League East as the Braves beat the Rays, handing Tampa Bay a sixth straight loss. The Orioles are now 26-17 on the road and 3-2 on this road trip. They are 4-3 in July, 5-5 in extra-inning games and 19-10 in series-opening games.

One more win in this series and the Orioles will be 17-9-3 in their series before the All-Star Game.

Minnesota (45-44) had won five of its past six games as the series began. The Twins fell to 26-20 at home, to 14-15 in series openers and 8-4 in extra-inning games.

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Hyde's pregame props for Cowser and Bautista's All-Star hope

cowser debut

MINNEAPOLIS - Colton Cowser has been with the Orioles for four days now and today the rookie will make his fourth start, batting seventh in right field. He has made a strong early impression on manager Brandon Hyde.

"I think he's been amazing," Hyde said pregame today. "Love his at-bats. Looks like he's been doing that for a while up here. Even that at-bat against (Jhoan) Duran last night, you know the call at first base. Just, he hadn't seen 103 mph sinkers before. Spit on some stuff down. Just relaxed throughout that big spot. Been really, really impressed with the way he's handled himself in the dugout. Defense has been really, really solid. I like his energy and he's fun to be around."

Cowser is 2-for-10 to start his big league career with three walks and no strikeouts.

Hyde said the team is discussing now how to set up its rotation out of the All-Star break, but added "we are not going to announce anything any time soon."

Ryan Mountcastle is batting .222 with an OPS of .572 on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk. The assignment will end during the All-Star break. Is there a chance the O's add Mountcastle to start the second half?

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O's win at Target Field marked by the latest great catch by Mullins

Cedric Mullins home run robbery

MINNEAPOLIS – All it took was one remarkable catch. One strong starting pitching performance. One clutch late relief outing. A sac fly, a sac bunt, a clutch double and a few others things for the Orioles to beat a team they often struggle against.

They lost two of three to the Twins last weekend. And while the Twins' record is inferior to the Orioles', they are a first-place team that leads the major leagues in team ERA and had won five of six games entering this series.

But the Orioles got two runs in the top of the 10th on a Ramón Urías double and Aaron Hicks sac fly. Félix Bautista pitched the ninth and 10th, getting his fourth win with a 30-pitch outing.

The win and night made better by the news that the Rays lost for the sixth straight game and the Orioles are three games back, just one in the loss column.

Wasn’t their season heading for a downturn about 10 minutes ago?

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Good start to the weekend: O's beat Twins 3-1 in 10 innings (updated)

Cedric Mullins home run robbery

MINNEAPOLIS – Cole Irvin was not “swirvin” this time. Irvin, who uses that nickname in his Twitter handle, was very much in balance and control tonight and he was setting down the Minnesota Twins with regularity.

His season ERA was 6.32 at game time, but his ERA since his latest return to the Orioles roster June 10 was 3.44 in five games. He gave up two runs in eight innings his last two starts, one rain interrupted. He had shown signs he was getting his act together.

Tonight, in front of 32,724 fans at Target Field in the opener of this three-game series, we saw more evidence.  

Irvin left with a lead but could not get a win tonight.

But the Orioles did.

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O's game blog: The series opener with Minnesota at Target Field

irvin orange opcy

MINNEAPOLIS – After a remarkable night in New York - and a 14-1 blowout win over the Yankees - the Orioles' suddenly resurgent offense is in for a real test this weekend. The O's open a series against the Minnesota Twins, a new hot team that leads MLB in team ERA. 

The Orioles went 15-for-26 at-bat last night in the first four innings and led 13-0 in the Bronx. By that point of the game, Gunnar Henderson and Ryan O'Hearn had already combined for nine RBIs. Henderson was 4-for-4 with two homers, three runs and five RBIs.

There have been three rookies to record 4+ hits and 5+ RBIs in a road game against the Yankees since RBIs became an official stat in 1920 – Don Wheeler in 1949, Maikel Franco in 2015 and yesterday.

The Orioles set season highs in runs and hits. The previous tops was 13 runs and 17 hits and they had 20 last night. 

Heading into Wednesday's game at Yankee Stadium, the Orioles had lost six of seven games. But now they have back-to-back wins by 6-3 and 14-1.

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Hays on the All-Star Game start, Hyde on Mullins batting fourth and more


MINNEAPOLIS – Orioles outfielder Austin Hays is now going to start in the All-Star game for the American League next week in Seattle. Now Baltimore needs to get him back in their starting lineup and that should happen at Minnesota on Saturday afternoon.

Hays and Adolis Garcia of Texas were named starters today and will join Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena in the AL starting outfield due to injuries to Aaron Judge and Mike Trout.

“Hyder (manager Brandon Hyde) called me this morning to let me know,” Hays said this afternoon before the Orioles-Twins series opener at Target Field. “Lot of excitement. Just really excited to wear this team’s name on my chest out there and start the All-Star game.”

Hays already has gotten advice from teammate Cedric Mullins, who was a starter in the 2021 game due to an injury then also to Trout.

"He said there is a lot going on, just try to live in the moment. Lot of moving parts. It moves really fast and there is a lot of stuff scheduled. Just try to enjoy every second and go with the flow like everything will happen will really quickly. Try to enjoy each moment as much as you can,” said Hays.

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MLBPipeline's Jim Calls gives O's drafting/developing props as farm became No. 1 (plus a rout in NY)

Gunnar Henderson

As the Orioles get set to make a pick outside of the top five picks in round one of the MLB Draft for the first time in a while on Sunday, draft expert Jim Callis gives the Orioles props for both drafting and developing young talent under Mike Elias and his front office staff.

And certainly, it is not a stretch to praise an O's organization that now has the No. 1 ranked farm system in the sport.

They drafted No. 1 overall in 2019, taking catcher Adley Rutschman and No. 2 in the next year selecting outfielder Heston Kjerstad. Their first selection in the 2021 draft, taken No. 5 overall, was outfielder Colton Cowser who just arrived in the majors. Last year, with the third No. 1 overall pick in club history, they selected high school shortstop Jackson Holliday. MLBPipeline.com now ranks him as the No. 1 prospect on their top 100 list.

“They have obviously done well (in the draft)," Callis said this week. "You can argue when you are picking one, two, five and one, you should do pretty well. They got Gunnar Henderson with their second pick back in 2019. I think it’s not just in drafting, but also development. Guys are coming into their system and getting better.

“Heston Kjerstad is a guy we have talked a lot about, took forever to get going and now they’ve got him back to where he was. He’s everything they hoped he would be. Some later round picks like Coby Mayo, granted was an overslot signing, Joey Ortiz and Jordan Westburg have developed well. They’ve made good picks and good picks later in the draft.

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O's game blog: Looking for a four-game split in the Bronx

O's game blog: Looking for a four-game split in the Bronx

After losing the first two games of their four-game series at New York by a combined 14-7 score, the Orioles rallied for a 6-3 win at Yankee Stadium last night. If the Orioles win tonight they will have a four-game series split and will move four games ahead of New York for second place in the AL East.

At 50-35 the Orioles reached the 50-win mark which they did not reach last year until July 28 when they were 50-49.

With the win the Orioles have now gone 67 straight series without being swept.

The Orioles are now five games behind first place Tampa Bay (57-32) which lost last night. The O's are three games ahead of New York for third place, 4.5 games ahead of Toronto and seven games up on Boston.

The Orioles are now 15-11 on the year in AL East games and 4-5 versus New York, going 3-3 at Yankee Stadium. The Birds are 13-7 in their past 20 AL East games.

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Is this the year the O's draft a pitcher in the first round?

2022 MLB Draft

In four drafts under Mike Elias and his staff, the Orioles have not selected a pitcher among the first two rounds of the MLB Draft, and they have not signed a pitcher taken above round five.

In 2019, they did not select a pitcher before taking Griffin McLarty of College of Charleston in round eight. The next year the highest drafted pitcher was prep right-hander Carter Baumler in round five. In 2021 the top pitcher selection was in round five with Carlos Tavera.

Last year they selected Oklahoma State pitcher Nolan McLean in round three with selection No. 81 but did not sign him. They get a compensation pick at No. 100 this year for not signing McLean.

Will this be the year that Elias and company use their first-round pick or one of their first few selections on a pitcher?

“I think we always keep our mind open,” said O’s director of draft operations Brad Ciolek. “Obviously you guys (local media) kind of have a scouting report in terms of what we look for in terms of our first-round selection. But there are some pretty intriguing arms. There are a few college arms and a few high school arms that have our attention. We typically do lean to the college demographic, but we are open to all possible scenarios in this case.”

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O's game blog: Looking to pick up a win in the series against New York

Kremer throwing

Whether it is a well pitched game or a game where the offense breaks out or some combination, the Orioles could use it tonight to pick up a much-needed win at Yankee Stadium.

They entered this series at 49-33 and had gone 5-0-1 in their last six American League series, going 12-5 in those games. They were 3-3 this year against the Yankees.

But after losses in the Bronx by 6-3 and 8-4 scores, the Orioles are 49-35 and have now lost six of seven, eight of 12 and 10 of their past 16 games. Since May 26 they are 16-18 (.471) and have gone 4-6-1 their past 11 series.

They begin play tonight, in Game 3 of this four-game series, before they head to Minnesota, six games behind Tampa Bay for the division lead and two games ahead of New York for second place in the division. They hold the top AL wild card spot, leading Houston by 1 1/2 games and New York by two.

The Orioles have scored seven runs on 20 hits in this series in the Bronx, but they have been outhomered 5-2. Over the last five games the Orioles have scored just 10 runs. They have scored three or fewer runs in 14 of the last 25 games, going 3-11 in those 14.

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