The Baltimore Orioles play numerous playoff contenders, and favorites, as the month of September and the baseball season wraps up.
What happens when the worst team in baseball plays a bunch of playoff contenders down the stretch?We are about to find out.
Right now, the Boston Red Sox are going to make the playoffs, as are the Cleveland Indians (because the Central is atrocious). The Houston Astros and New York Yankees are both likely in.
The Oakland Athletics lead the wild card by five and a half games over the Seattle Mariners, who the Baltimore Orioles just finished playing. Another two and a half back is the Tampa Bay Rays, the Baltimore Orioles’ opponent for their next three games.
The Baltimore Orioles play Tampa now, then are home for three against Oakland. That home stand continues with three against the Chicago White Sox and three against the Toronto Blue Jays.
After that, the Baltimore Orioles play three in New York, three in Boston and four at home against the Houston Astros. Even though those three teams will likely be resting players at that point, the talent level is so different that the Orioles could lose all ten games.
These teams have all, for the most part, been successful against Baltimore this year.
Houston is 3-0, as is Oakland. Seattle went 6-1. Cleveland went 5-2. In the division, the Red Sox have taken advantage of their games against the O’s, going a whopping 14-2. The Yankees are 9-6. The Rays are an even 8-8.
In reality, no one can complain that they didn’t get a fair shake, since the Orioles have faced each playoff contender, except Cleveland, in September.
However, the Orioles have lost over 100 games. The calls across baseball, concerned about tanking, have been quite high in 2018.
Now, I don’t think you can accuse the Orioles of tanking, per se. Unlike the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox, the Orioles did not stand pat this offseason knowing they were heading to a rebuild.
Not at all. They signed Andrew Cashner to help their pitching. Then, they signed Alex Cobb to further help a rotation that had concerns. How did it work out? Well, Cashner has been about what they thought they were getting.
Cobb was abysmal the first half of the season, but has been better than the Orioles likely expected the second half. Other parts of the team helped drag the Orioles to this low.
Chris Davis is hitting well below the Mendoza line, despite his recent improvements. Chris Tillman was bad. The bullpen has struggled. The defense has struggled. The offense was miserable, outside of Manny Machado, to start the year.
It has not been a good season for the Orioles, and because of that, the Orioles realized that it was time for them to rebuild. And now, they are a team that isn’t good at all. And, next year, that will likely be more of the same.
Buck Showalter has spoken numerous times recently about maintaining the integrity of the game and putting forth a respectable lineup, while also working on what makes the Orioles better.
Let’s be honest, if any of these playoff contenders are losing to this team, even if all of their ‘best players’ are playing, then they don’t deserve to be playoff contenders.
The Orioles have to watch out for one team, and that is their own. If one playoff contender can’t win enough against the Orioles, that’s their problem.