I’d have a bunch of non-sports questions if I were flying for the holidays.
“Why is this line so long? Why isn’t it moving? Where are my bags? Where am I supposed to sleep?”
"Do I dare try the sushi?"
Here are a few more relating to the Orioles:
Which free agent starting pitcher could sign with the Orioles?
Rich Hill is off the board after agreeing to a one-year, $8 million contract with the Pirates.
The Orioles were interested to the point of meeting with Hill, according to a source.
Maybe $8 million was more than they wanted to invest in the left-hander, who turns 43 in March. The Red Sox paid him $5 million in 2022.
The Pirates are Hill’s 12th major league team. He also pitched for the independent Long Island Ducks in 2015.
Nathan Eovaldi is off the board after reaching agreement with the Rangers on a two-year, $34 million contract with a vesting option. The Orioles checked in on him, as well, though he would have cost their third draft selection after he turned down the qualifying offer.
Michael Wacha is unsigned and the Orioles also have been linked to him in various reports.
Here the list of free agent starters supplied by MLBTradeRumors.com:
Chi Chi González
We’ve moved past the top tier if you hadn’t noticed.
True No. 1 starters already ran in short supply. There hasn’t been much clarity in the team’s rotation plans beyond Kyle Gibson joining it.
What’s happening with Zac Lowther?
Lowther is still in the organization. He isn’t a minor league free agent.
I’ve been asked about him. Let’s clear up any confusion.
The Orioles chose Lowther and Keegan Akin as their co-Minor League Pitchers of the Year in 2018. Akin was in their bullpen for most of the 2022 season. Lowther was designated for assignment on June 15 after they claimed infielder Jonathan Araúz off waivers from the Red Sox.
Lowther made 10 appearances with the Orioles in 2021, including six starts. His lone appearance in 2022 consisted of 5 1/3 relief innings against the Mariners on May 31, when he allowed five earned runs and six total after replacing opener Bryan Baker in the second.
The plan didn’t work. Baker allowed three runs in 1 1/3. Infielder Chris Owings pitched the ninth in a 10-0 loss.
Lowther went 13-7 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.115 WHIP in 26 starts with Double-A Bowie in 2019. He was added to the 40-man roster in November 2020 after being unable to pitch due to the cancellation of the minor league season and spending much of the summer at the alternate camp site in Bowie.
This is where Lowther’s career began to head in the wrong direction. He made his major league debut in 2021, was optioned multiple times and finished with a 6.67 ERA and 1.652 WHIP with the Orioles and a 6.53 ERA and 1.615 WHIP in eight starts with Triple-A Norfolk.
A failed bid to make the club out of spring training in 2022 was followed by a 10.31 ERA and 2.244 WHIP in 17 games (nine starts) with Norfolk. Lowther averaged 15.5 hits, 4.7 walks and 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He was optioned the day after his only appearance with the Orioles.
Lowther probably will be a non-roster invitee to spring training, but I’m just making an assumption. Wherever he goes, he’ll work to regain the shine that has dulled.
Can the Orioles make life a little easier on manager Brandon Hyde?
This should have been one of his Christmas wishes.
The Orioles had 83 games decided by two runs or fewer this year, the fifth-most in the American League and ninth-most in the majors, They won 43.
Hyde joked with the media about the rules allowing for bigger margins. How much he’d appreciate the occasional blowout in his favor.
They didn’t need to be so tense. It just kept working out that way.
The Orioles played 63 games in 2021 that were decided by two runs or fewer, tied for the lowest amount in the majors. They went 24-39 for the second-fewest wins.
Perhaps the 2023 team can put away opponents with greater ease while making another playoff run. Raise the win total and lower Hyde's blood pressure.
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