The Baltimore Orioles will look to get back to the playoffs, and advance once in them, as they kick off the 2017 Major League Baseball season.
Well, friends, it does not get any better than this for Baltimore Orioles fans.
Blue skies, green grass, nice weather and the black and orange back in Baltimore.
Ahhhhhhh…baseball is back.
That means that for all teams, hope springs eternal. The three teams who already have losses (Yankees, Giants and Cubs) are expected to be three of the best teams in 2017.
As for the Orioles, what are the expectations for them?
You likely have heard the national prognosticators, predicting doom and gloom based off a questionable rotation and a lineup of mashers.
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Well, I’m not going to disagree with either of those points. But, I am going to offer up some more original thoughts, that you can’t get from a sabermetric.
The Baltimore Orioles’ 2017 season will be defined by the starting pitching.
Thanks Captain Obvious.
Every single year, I always say that for the Orioles, it is all about the starting pitching. Why would this year be any different.
The team has two pitchers who are pitching to prove they belong in the rotation in Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley. Then there are two pitchers set to prove their name deserves to have the word ‘Ace’ associated with it. Those are Dylan Bundy and the Opening Day starter, Kevin Gausman.
Then there is Chris Tillman. He has been the Orioles’ ace, and a pretty darn good one at that. But, Tillman won’t pitch for the Birds in April. When he comes back in May, will he be fully healthy?
Only time will tell on that, but I am optimistic.
The Orioles’ can probably get by with their pitchers each outing getting through six innings. This would allow Buck Showalter to mix-and-match using Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach and then Zach Britton. The deepest bullpen in the game.
The lineup is going to hit home runs, maybe even more than 2016. But, they also should be better at getting on-base, and may even add some running into their bag of tricks, especially against left-handed pitching when Joey Rickard and Craig Gentry both start.
The defense should also be better, especially if J.J. Hardy is healthy all year, which is a bit of a question mark. The corner outfield spots are not going to feature Mike Trout, but it should be an improvement over 2016.
So, if the defense is pretty good, the bullpen is outstanding and the lineup is solid from top to bottom, that brings us back to starting pitching. Can Jimenez and Miley each finish above .500? If so, I believe the Orioles would be in really good shape in 2017.
If not, then hopefully buck Showalter knows when to go to other options. Jayson Aquino, Gabriel Ynoa, Logan Verrett, Chris Lee and Mike Wright will likely be in the rotation in AAA Norfolk. Each has something to prove as they push for a spot on the big club.
For the Orioles, the success of the season comes down to the starting rotation. Can Gausman and Bundy be top-of-the-rotation pitchers? Can Tillman be healthy and effective? Can the fourth and fifth starters end up with an above .500 season.
If so, the Orioles may just be playing not only into October, but long into it.
Wherever or however you watch the Birds on Opening Day, and the rest of the season, here’s to a great one!
Let’s. Go. O’s!