Baltimore Orioles: Recent Moves Enough to Make Playoffs?

Jun 28, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) talks on the dugout phone during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 28, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) talks on the dugout phone during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Orioles have been active in overhauling the roster over the past week. Is it enough to get them into the playoffs?

Keeping up with all the moves that the Baltimore Orioles have made over the last 24 hours? Don’t worry. We got it all taken care of for you.

A lot has gone down in so little time.

It started with the O’s bringing back reliever Tommy Hunter. While it was a feel good story to bring Big Game back to the team, he also is an upgrade to the bullpen. He gives Buck Showalter a reliable option at a time when the Orioles need it most. In order to make room for Hunter, the team designated T.J. McFarland for assignment.

Wednesday things got real wild.

It started with the Orioles acquiring left-handed reliever Kyle Lobstein from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Zach Phillips. To make room for Lobstein, they designated Ashur Tolliver for assignment. So logically, the O’s would DFA Lobstein just hours later.

Baltimore claimed outfielder Drew Stubbs off waivers from the Texas Rangers, and sent Lobstein to the minors in his place. The addition of Stubbs brings the O’s a player that can play all three outfield spots and offer some speed and pop to the lineup. Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette said before the game that he is a base stealer (wait, the Orioles know what stolen bases are?).

Hold on. There is more.

One hour after the Orioles announced that they have claimed Stubbs, they are finalizing a deal for Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Michael Bourn. Bourn gives the O’s another base stealer, a category the team ranks dead last in the Majors. That’s a discussion we had on the latest episode of our podcast

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With teams able to expand their rosters tomorrow, a lot of teams in contention are making last-minute deals. The Orioles are no different. Clearly, this is a message that something is wrong with Adam Jones. If the team felt it needed not one, but two outfielders on the last day to add postseason eligible players, they are worried that Jones’ hamstring is going to be a problem the rest of the way.

But have they made enough moves to stay in the playoff hunt? Not until they find a starter. Just do not count on that happening.

Before the season started, everyone knew what would make or break the Orioles season. The starting pitching was going to decide if this team would make the playoffs. That has never been more clear right now with Chris Tillman on the disabled list.

Yovani Gallardo gave up two home runs in the first inning last night and the Toronto Blue Jays had an early lead in minutes. The Orioles were already playing from behind before getting a chance to swing the bats. That seems to be an all too common theme for the Orioles starters.

No Orioles’ fan liked the idea of entering a pivotal series against the Blue Jays with Gallardo, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound. There is not much available in terms of staring pitching at this time of the year either. The teams that are in it are not dealing their players and rest of the teams with pieces can wait until the offseason to find the best deal. However, some team has to be dangling something better than we have seen from the O’s starting staff.

The aforementioned names were not the reason the Orioles lost the series against the Blue Jays, but they do not give you confidence the rest of the way either. Each has an ERA over 5.00 and has struggled to keep the team in ball games. That is something the O’s can ill afford at a point of the season where every game counts.

Believe it or not, the Orioles had options. Scott Kazmir is having a down year by his standards, but his 4.41 ERA and an outstanding K/9 rate of 9.02 is much better than what the current staff has to offer. It’s tough to imagine the Los Angeles Dodgers giving him up easily as they remain in the postseason chase.

James Shields is having an awful season with the Chicago White Sox. His numbers are similar to those of Miley, Ubaldo and Gallardo. That is not encouraging, but if you had to pick one of the four to win you one game, your choice is still Shields. His track record is significantly better than the others. 

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That brings me to Ervin Santana, a name that was available on waivers and would have been an instant upgrade. Santana was a player that the O’s have had interest in previously. His 3.54 ERA in 147 1/3 innings is better than every Orioles starter, and with the Minnesota Twins out of it, they are looking for an attractive offer. His contract is not team friendly, but that’s the price you pay when your team is in the hunt.

Instead, the Orioles opted for more hitters over starting pitching.

Bourn and Stubbs are solid Major League players. They are already an upgrade over Nolan Reimold and give the Orioles something they do not have on the roster: speed. They can be used as pinch runners and defensive replacements late in games, but neither is going to be the reason the O’s are in our out of the playoffs.

This team would have been better with another starter in the rotation. Whether it was one of three players on waivers or someone else out there, the Orioles are going to go as far as this pitching staff will take them. The Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox are getting results from their starters, while the O’s are fading because of the lack of arms.

Next: Should Zach Britton Win the Cy Young?

The Baltimore Orioles enter September with a lot of concerns. The rotation is shaky, Jones and Tillman are hurt, the bats have been inconsistent and the schedule is unrelenting. If this team is going to make the playoffs, they will have earned it.