Baltimore Orioles 2018 season preview

            In a very disappointing season, the Baltimore Orioles finished in last place in the AL East, with a 75-87 record. Only the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers finished with less wins in the AL (they tied with the A\’s). With their division top two teams getting more competitive (Red Sox and Yankees). To at least try to make their team better, GM Dan Duquette had his work cut out for him. Let\’s take a look at his most recent offseason.

            Notable additions: RHP Andrew Cashner, OF Colby Rasmus, OF Jaycob Brugman, C Andrew Susac, OF Alex Presley, RHP Jhan Marinez, LHP Josh Edgin.

            Notable subtractions: C Welington Castillo, OF Seth Smith, SS J.J. Hardy, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, RHPs Jeremy Hellickson, Tyler Wilson, INF Ryan Flaherty.

             What they did well: Cashner is a nice addition to a falling bullpen. They are also trying to trust the kids, and didn\’t add too much.

               What they did bad: They let Castillo walk without a substitution. He\’s a very good catcher. Unless Chance Sisco is ready to catch full time, their catching situation will look ugly with Caleb Joseph starting.

                Sneaky sleeper: You won\’t see too many middle relievers on these categories, but for the O\’s they have one, and a lefty at that. In just two seasons for the O\’s and Yankees, Richard Bleier has posted a 1.98 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. But, there is one thing about Bleier that puts him in a different category than other relievers. He doesn\’t strike guys out. In his 86.1 innings of MLB time, Bleier has just 39 strikeouts, for a pity 4.1 K/9 rate. Luckily, he\’s been able to get guys out other ways, and get past many people\’s eyes, including mine.

                   Incoming outbreak: He may or may not get many ABs in 2018, but with Smith\’s departure, OF Austin Hays could get a chance to be the opening day right fielder. If he can beat out Joey Rickard, plus non-roster invitees Jaycob Brugman and Colby Rasmus for it. Hays was a September call-up in 2017, but struggled in 60 ABs, with a .217 batting average and .238 OBP. Still, I have faith in Hays.

                     Unsuspected slump: With 26 homers in 2017, Chris Davis wasn\’t very effective, as his power numbers fell. We all know his contract was a bad one. If a guy has hit under .220 in the last two seasons combined, with over 400 strikeouts in that time, you know his numbers can\’t be too much more positive in one year.

                     Blue-chip Bopper: Once a top three third baseman, a move back to shortstop, his original position, makes Manny Machado now a top three shortstop. We all know he can play the position. His arm and defensive skills will back that up. Also, you know you\’re doing well when you\’ve hit over 100 homers and had a stable batting average in each of the last three seasons. Even with a career worst .259 mark in 2017, Machado is still a top infielder.

                        Astounding ace: With a really bad pitching staff, plus all-star closer Zach Britton to be injured for about the first half of the season, it\’s hard to find an ace here. I\’ll go with Kevin Gausman, right in his prime. Gausman had a setback year in 2017, with a 4.68 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 186.2 innings. But, his stellar 2016 suggest Gausman isn\’t too far away from leading a pitching staff, like he\’ll be forced to do in 2018.

       Here is the 2018 projected roster for the Baltimore Orioles, starting with their lineup.

 3B Tim Beckham (R)
 SS Manny Machado (R)
 1B Chris Davis (L)
 2B Jonathan Schoop (R)
 OF Adam Jones (R)
 DH Mark Trumbo (R)
 LF Trey Mancini (R)
 C Chance Sisco (L)
 RF Austin Hays (R)

           Here\’s their rotation.

 RHP Kevin Gausman
 RHP Dylan Bundy
 RHP Andrew Cashner
 RHP Chris Tillman
 RHP Alec Asher

  Brad Brach (R) is their closer, with Darren O\’Day (R), Donnie Hart (L), Richard Bleier (L), Mychal Givens (R), Miguel Castro (R) and Jimmy Yacabonis (R) also in the bullpen.

  OF Joey Rickard (R), C Caleb Joseph (R), OF Colby Rasmus (L) and INF Ruben Tejada (R) are on the bench.

 Finally, for my prediction, I thin the O\’s a right handed dominant team in a strong division, will not make the playoffs in 2018, and finish 4th in the East.

Published by carterhud SI Kids Kid Reporter, Prime Time Sports Talk writer

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