Myriad O's Thoughts: No spoiler alert; Gausman's rollercoaster; Trumbo's troubles -

Paul Folkemer

Myriad O’s Thoughts: No spoiler alert; Gausman’s rollercoaster; Trumbo’s troubles

So much for playing spoiler.

The Orioles, who have been all but eliminated from postseason contention, aren’t exactly making life difficult for their playoff-bound opponents.

This September, the Orioles have played 12 games against teams that are likely headed to the dance: the New York Yankees (seven), Boston Red Sox (two) and Cleveland Indians (three).

The Orioles’ record in those games? 2-10.

The latest loss came to the Red Sox on Tuesday, a second consecutive 11-inning defeat, with the game’s lone run scoring on a Brad Brach wild pitch.

By being a punching bag for contenders, the Orioles have inadvertently played a role in the postseason race. The club lost three out of four games in New York over the weekend to help the Yankees climb closer to the Red Sox in the AL East race. Then the Orioles immediately returned the favor – losing two to Boston and allowing the Red Sox to maintain their first-place cushion.

Hey, at least the Orioles are equal-opportunity offenders.

The club also were swept by Cleveland — in fairness, so were a lot of teams — amidst the Indians’ historic 22-game winning streak, which vaulted them ahead of the Houston Astros for the AL’s best record.

The Orioles are now 5-13 in September, and they’ve lost 11 of their last 13. They’ll have to win eight of their final 10 games to avoid a losing season.


Manager Buck Showalter acknowledged the club is disappointed. But he has no doubt that the effort is still there.

“Of course,” Showalter said. “That’s never a question for me or for each other. They hold each other to a high standard. They’re very frustrated right now, as you can imagine. I feel for them, because I know how much that means to them.”

The Orioles’ collapse this September is out of character. In seven previous years under Showalter, they’ve never had a losing record in the month, as I noted last week.

Even in seasons in which the Orioles didn’t make the playoffs, they relished the role of spoiler. Most famously, of course, they ruined Boston’s postseason hopes in 2011, going 5-2 against the Red Sox in September — including a dramatic, walkoff win on the final night of the season — to help the Tampa Bay Rays overtake the Sox for the wild card berth.

This year, though, the Orioles are simply serving as patsies for October-bound teams. The Orioles are having an impact on the postseason race — for the wrong reasons.

Gausman on the upswing

What do the Orioles have in Kevin Gausman?

The 2017 season is almost over, and frankly, the Orioles still don’t know the answer to that question.

Gausman has zigzagged through his most puzzling season yet. In the first half, he failed to build on his solid finish to 2016, scuffling to a 5-7 record and 5.85 ERA in 19 starts. Only five were quality starts.

The first-half struggles of Gausman, who was the Orioles’ expected ace after Chris Tillman suffered a shoulder injury, was one of the main cracks in the rotation’s collapse.

For the second straight year, though, Gausman has stepped up his game since the All-Star Break. Including Tuesday’s outing, he’s 6-3 with a 3.09 ERA in the second half and has struck out 9.4 batters per nine innings. Nine of his 13 outings have been quality starts. That includes five scoreless starts, something he accomplished just twice before the break.

“I think I’m not trying as hard,” Gausman said of his second-half success. “I think early on I was kind of pressing, trying to have a good year straight out the gate, and I think I was just trying to do too much. So now I’ve kind of simplified my delivery, and I’m feeling good with all my pitches.”

Still, Gausman has turned in his share of clunkers during his second-half surge. Twice in his last six starts, Gausman has surrendered five earned runs without making it past the fourth inning. And that’s the kind of maddening inconsistency that has kept the Orioles guessing about which version of Gausman will show up on any given day.

On Tuesday, the brilliant Gausman showed up. He rolled through eight shutout innings — his second longest outing of the season — without breaking a sweat, holding the Red Sox to three hits, all singles. They had only one at-bat with a runner in scoring position against him. Gausman, in fact, carried a perfect game into the fifth inning before Rafael Devers broke it up with a two-out single. His pitches had tremendous movement, keeping Sox hitters off balance.

“[I had] fastball command,” Gausman said. “I had a really good feel for my four-seam and my sinker. Caleb [Joseph] did a great job back there sequencing guys, and setting up some other guys. My defense played great. I was just throwing a lot of strikes.”

“He was outstanding,” Showalter said. “That’s about as good as it gets against a team operating on all cylinders giving you their best shot. Kevin was every bit as good. We’d like to get a W out of that, obviously. It was a good outing.”

It was the kind of outing that makes Orioles fans salivate about what Gausman, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, could still become. Remember, he’s only 26. And it’s not the first time Gausman has flashed that kind of dominance.

But 104 starts into his major league career, Gausman hasn’t yet strung together success over a full season, and it’s fair to wonder if he will.

As one of two starting pitchers who is under contract with the Orioles for next season — Dylan Bundy being the other — Gausman figures to play a crucial role for the 2018 club.

How will it play out for him? At this point, it’s anybody’s guess.

Designated hitter not hitting

The Orioles’ offense couldn’t scratch out a run in 11 innings Tuesday. And right in the middle of that struggling lineup was a designated hitter who isn’t living up to his title: Mark Trumbo.

Trumbo went 0-for-3 in the game, striking out with two runners aboard to end the sixth inning. He’s now hitting .237 with a .697 OPS this season. In 140 games, he has 23 home runs, fewer than half his MLB-leading total of 47 last season.

When the Orioles re-signed Trumbo as a free agent last offseason, they probably expected that he might take a step back after his career year. Most teams didn’t seem sold on his 2016 success; Trumbo ended up signing a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the Orioles.

Still, Trumbo’s dropoff in 2017 has been more dramatic than anticipated. If the season ended today, Trumbo’s .404 slugging percentage would be the worst of his big league career.

What’s worse, Trumbo has particularly struggled in the DH role. In 106 games as a DH entering Tuesday, he was batting just .210 with a .648 OPS and 18 homers. Compare that to his 32 games as a right fielder, where he’s hitting .331 with an .876 OPS and five homers.

It seems that Trumbo is a much better hitter when he’s on the field. But it’s tough to give him more starts in the outfield, considering that he’s a liability with the glove.

The Orioles are in a tough situation with Trumbo. He hasn’t lived up to his contract this season, and he has two more years on his deal. The club could make him available on the trade market this winter, but it’s tough to see another team taking a chance on Trumbo unless the Orioles eat a chunk of his salary or take on a bad contract in exchange.

The club might have no choice but to keep Trumbo around and hope for a rebound in 2018.



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 20, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Save for Hays, games this month have been nothing but painful to watch. Trumbo flailing away at anything up around his eyes. Manny’s incredibly bad base running. Crush being …. well … Crush. Scoring 8 runs and losing in 11 innings and then following that up by scoring nada-zip-zilch … and losing in 11 innings. Opposing outfielders catching balls on the warning track. Pitchers that can’t hit the strike zone even if it were the size of the proverbial side of a barn … and worst of all … Yankee & Red Sox fans sitting behind our home plate eating our ice cream.

    It can’t get much worse than these past few weeks, and yet, I can’t look away.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 20, 2017 at 8:21 am

      That’s the definition of a fan Boog. And honestly even when the stakes are non-existent it’s still a great sport to watch. It’s just so much better when the stakes are high.

  2. Bancells Moustache

    September 20, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Stop complaining people! The O’s are ahead of Toronto and only a half game back of Tampa for the “Least Mediocre” crown. Let’s do it boys! We like our guys, we’re glad you came, we can’t wait and Cito sucks.

  3. Craig417

    September 20, 2017 at 9:19 am

    1. One dimensional players with too big of a salaries.
    2. Eat part of their salaries and don’t look back.
    3. HR,s don’t win games But pitching does. (The best offense is a good defense)
    4. Trumbo, Davis, (and Jimenez) are at the heart of the O’s problem.

    What team has the fewest homers in the American League? oh yeah it’s BOSTON.

    One last point, when you give up more RBI’S then you score you aren’t going anywhere.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 20, 2017 at 9:31 am

      2. You don’t eat salaries and not look back. If they eat a salary as big as Davis’ (or Trumbo’s), they are gonna look back plenty. And that means no major expenditures in the near future. That’s just human nature. You have to be careful there.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      September 20, 2017 at 9:48 am

      I agree with you about winning teams having good pitching, but it’s not quite that simple. For those of us old enough to remember the glory days of the Bal’more Orioles, might I refer to a quote from the great Earl Weaver ….

      “Pitching, defense and the 3 RUN-HOMER”.

      And folks, offensively, I don’t think these Orioles are quite as one dimensional as everybody says, after all, they’re 3rd in the league in batting average. And as far as the taters go, who wouldn’t want a team with 7 players with 20+? (8 if you were to count Beckham’s time in Tampa) And of those 8, only 2 of those players hit for less than the league average! Get outta here putting ANY of this blame on the lineup. The staff simply fell apart this year.

      As far as what you deem the “heart of the Orioles problem”, I agree and disagree. Granted, the Davis contract was simply an awful decision spurred by the failure to re-sign Cruz, but Trumbo’s has only 2 more years left. I expect better from him next year. As far as Jimenez … why do you think Duquette hates to sign free agent starters for more than 3 years? It’ may not have been a success, but I’ll live with the Ubaldo deal. Duquette was trying to do what soooo many of us experts sitting on our couches have clamored for. Get some starting pitching.

      Craig, as far as eating those salaries … this ain’t Boston or New York our team plays in.

      • Paul Folkemer

        September 20, 2017 at 11:17 am

        I agree, Boog. The Orioles’ offense is good enough to win, even if the bats go into a dry spell every so often. We saw with last year’s team that a homer-heavy offense can bash its way into the postseason. And as you mentioned, this lineup isn’t as one-dimensional as people make it out to be.

        But no lineup is good enough to overcome the Orioles’ awful starting pitching this season. That’s been the heart of the problem in 2017 and it’s why the O’s will be on the outside looking in when October rolls around.

    • Craig417

      September 20, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      No one touched on the Boston and their home run production.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 20, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        I didn’t touch on Boston, because this is not

        But since you insist … I did agree with you about the need for a good pitching staff didn’t I?

        Boston is in 1st place because of the likes of Price, Sale, Porcello, Pomeranz, Rodriguez & Kimbrel … not because they are a bunch slap hitting, Punch & Judy hitters that are in last place in team home runs despite playing in Fenway.

        Let’s just see how far the Sox get without Big Papi knocking balls out of the park during the playoffs.

        • OriolesFan1986

          September 20, 2017 at 2:48 pm

          Boston’s offense still gets on base with the best of them(,331 – 5th in the AL) and is one of the best baserunning teams so it’s not like they are the worst hitting team in the world. Yes, they’re not hitting a lot of home runs, but they’re not wasting there runs like the Orioles are. Do I think when it’s all done that they will be AL Champs? No, but their offense still isn’t exactly chopped liver.

          If anyone in the division that is going far, I think its the Yankees who are the team I am scared of in a one-game anything could happen wild-card game in which their pen is in good shape for a deep run. For the record, I think Cleveland will win the AL and then we will have another Cubs-Indians series with the Indians winning, so therefore I will be wrong as it can be.

  4. Wade Warren

    September 20, 2017 at 11:58 am

    is brach a free agent after this season? if not trade the bum everytime he enters a a game i exit the game and head to bed. so sick of Trumbo and Brach. why Sisco playing more? we know what beef and joseph can do. want this season to be over and hopefully we can have a good team next year with Cobb from Tampa and some good pitchers.

    • OriolesFan1986

      September 20, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Brach won’t be a FA until after 2019 and despite a rough stetch in May and a slight stretch in August, he’s pitched fairly well. Though I still wish they explore a trade of him. Him and Britton are the top two trade candidates that will be realistically available. They won’t give up on 2018 even if I’m doubtful of our chances which means Machado won’t be traded and anyway his value isn’t as high as it could be.

      As for Sisco, I’m at a loss why he isn’t playing more? Castillo won’t be here next year as he will surely re-enter a weak free market for catchers where he is the top or 2nd best catcher available depending on what you think Lucroy will do in 2018 and beyond. There is no simple answer with Trumbo. Probably the best option is it will have to be a deal where we take on some bad contract from another team. Though it would allow Alvarez to DH platooning with someone possibly, which I felt we probably would been best off doing, to begin with as he hit real well in one of the top pitching parks in the International League and wouldn’t cost anywhere near Trumbo.

      As for Alex Cobb, I like to see them make a good run and sign him, but given the through physicals, I don’t know if the Orioles are a realistic choice for him and I’m weary after how bad Ubaldo was that Angelos may be weary of another long term deal for a starting pitcher even if he was better than Jimenez was when he was available.

  5. OriolesMagic

    September 20, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Imagine if we could reduce the team ERA by 1.40?

    That just happens to be the difference in catcher ERA between Joseph and Castillo.

    If we plan on keeping Castillo, someone needs to teach him how to properly present a target and receive the ball. Castillo repeatedly fails to timely present a target to the pitchers. Let’s have Dempsey give him a few pointers…..or not, if he signs elsewhere.

    • Raymo

      September 20, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      Interestingly, Dempsey was praising Castillo during the post game shows in April and implying that he presents a better target than Wieters (Sorry Boog).

      • OriolesFan1986

        September 20, 2017 at 9:33 pm

        The big issue that was mentioned when Arizona non-tendered him was his poor pitch framing ability. You see he can’t frame the extra strikes here and there like Caleb can.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 21, 2017 at 7:00 am


  6. Craig417

    September 20, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Do the O’s have a team psychologist that they could use to figure out what he’ll is wrong with Trumbo, Davis and Jimenez? If not, they should get one. If they do have one, fire him/ her.

    On another subject, couldn’t everyone see that Brach was spent in the 11th inning last night? Wasn’t there anyone else in the bullpen? The decision not to pulled him reminded me of the game against Toronto in the playoff. Jimenez pitching and Britton sitting. Must have been a good reason for both non-decision.

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