Tap-In Question: What's your call on this O's start: Bad luck, bad scheduling or simply bad? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Connolly's Tap Room

Tap-In Question: What’s your call on this O’s start: Bad luck, bad scheduling or simply bad?

Where else would you rather be right now than a bar?

So, welcome to Connolly’s Tap Room. If the Orioles keep playing like this, I might have to keep this fake joint open 24-7.

The Orioles scored five runs in Detroit on Wednesday – the best offensive output since their most recent win, last Wednesday at Camden Yards – and received a strong pitching performance from Kevin Gausman.

They made two comebacks and actually used a good bunt from Craig Gentry – small ball? — to help set-up a three-run inning in the eighth.

And yet they still lost, 6-5, in the bottom of the ninth on a walkoff homer by Detroit’s Dixon Machado against Rule 5 rookie Pedro Araujo, who threw two pitches and picked up the loss.

The Orioles (5-13) have dropped five straight and seven of eight since winning three of four at Yankee Stadium.

Finally, the Orioles scored more than three runs, getting RBIs from five different players, including a game-tying homer by recently recalled Luis Sardinas in the top of the ninth (pictured above).

The starting rotation kept them in the game – two earned runs in six innings from Gausman – and there were a few solid defensive plays, including an over-the-shoulder catch by second baseman Engelb Vielma.

But the bullpen collapsed – Darren O’Day surrendered a three-run homer on a hanging slider in the eighth before Araujo served up the gamer-winning gopher ball.


Now, I know some of you are going to say blow up this team – and that might happen in 2018, but it won’t in April. Not until other clubs have fully assessed their chances and rosters; that’s why in-season blockbuster deals rarely occur before July. You need to know who you are before you know what you must add.

In the meantime, you, oh bar patron, are stuck watching this roster, and manager Buck Showalter is stuck putting it out on the field every day. The hope is that it can quickly turn things around. Yes, it still is only April.

MASN commentator Rick Dempsey said Wednesday that this club is too talented to be this bad. Maybe he’s right.

Maybe it’s been a combination of bad weather, bad scheduling and bad luck, and this team will go on a run to get back to being at least the average-but-flawed club many of us expected.

Right now, though, these Orioles are terrible, losing any way they can.

I guess I’ll give you a chance to take a silver lining from today’s question. I want to know if this is what you think we’re going to see for the remainder of 2018, or if it is just an awful — and awfully long — blip.

Tap-In Question: What’s your take on the Orioles’ 2018 start – bad luck, bad weather, bad scheduling, or simply a bad team?



  1. btownoriole

    April 19, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Unfortunately, it’s a bad team. The defense and bullpen are not what they once were, Jones and Davis are in decline, and the Red Sox and Yankees are reloaded. The starting pitching is better and they will hit better, but I just don’t see enough here or on it’s way to compete for even the second wild card.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 8:38 am

      I like to start with a shot (of reality) in the morning. Kind of sums up my thoughts unless things change dramatically. Drink chip.

  2. deqalt

    April 19, 2018 at 7:37 am

    Combo of poorly constructed team and schedule. Too many all or nothing hitters. You can’t strikeout 10-12 times a game and he successful. That has only worked in the past when you hit 3-4 HR’s a game. The starting pitching is much better, but this bullpen that has had to carry the staff for years has finally hit the wall. Brauch, Givens, O’Day. You can’t win it in April, but you can lose it might be where we are headed fast. I just hope they are smart and trade the free agents and start over.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 8:39 am

      I will say this: I’m not worried about the bullpen. I think regular work and roles will do wonders.

  3. karks

    April 19, 2018 at 7:46 am

    First off, yesterday was completely painful to watch. As was the entire series in Boston. I know coming in everyone was worried about the rotation – but for the most part that has been pretty darn good (the top 3, at least). And I think when Cobb gets his legs under him a bit, we will have even more strength there (although Tillman looks about finished).

    The biggest problem I see with this team is the little mistakes that are costing them games – stuff we haven’t seen much the past few years. Wild pitches, defensive flubs and poor baserunning. Combine this with an ice-cold offense and it’s been a disaster so far.

    I have to think that this team is better than what they’ve shown, particularly on offense. Yes, they’re going to strike out a ton – we already knew that. But there are enough proven hitters in the lineup that things will have to pick up there eventually. But they also need to tighten up their fundamentals. I start wondering what happens with Manny if the play at 3B continues to be mediocre at best. Should they move him back and let Beckham take over SS again?

    I’m not ready to say this is a terrible team just yet. But things have to get turned around fairly soon or else they’ll be in too deep of a hole.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 8:49 am

      Excellent post as always. Drink chip. I think they are gonna stick with Manny at short. Something they are committed to. BUT, if this record keeps up, I have to imagine he won’t be in Baltimore after July anyway.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 19, 2018 at 7:52 am

    What is there to say? Thank goodness there are no tall bridges in Northern Virginia. I’m ready for May to arrive.

  5. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    April 19, 2018 at 8:08 am

    The tough schedule is a factor. Most of our hitters are hitting under .200. The bullpen and defense is shaky. Bundy has been excellent and Cashner is solid. We just dont stack up position by position talent wise against the better teams.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 8:52 am

      That is a good point. The teams they have faced are seemingly deep everywhere. They can outlast you l, outpitch and out-bludgeon you. The Orioles don’t have a whole lot of different ways they can win. The formula is pretty straightforward.

  6. bigdaddydk

    April 19, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Option D: bad planning. This is a team that has little roster flexibility. There are too many one-dimensional players on the roster, both offensively and defensively. We have a bunch of guys who are 1B/DH types who can’t play any other position, if they put on a glove at all. We also have a bunch of high strikeout/low OBP power bats that don’t do situational hitting well. I’m not blaming the schedule. We have to play what we’re given and both teams play in the same weather.

    We made significant moves to improve pitching this year, and not the tables have turned. We’re getting over 50% quality starts and not turning those into wins. Last year, we couldn’t hardly buy a QS and the offense simply couldn’t overcome the 5-run deficits in the early innings. This year, our pitchers have to be feeling like they need to throw CG shutouts now just to get a shot at a win. We have heard the FO say time and again that OBP is a priority, but we ended up with Colby Rasmus, who apparently is another strikeout machine, and Danny Valencia. Neither gives us roster flexibility. That, to me, is the big thing. We didn’t plan particularly well. This team is some flexibility away from being respectable, provided that flexibility brings some OBP improvement with it. The pitching (Tillman and Wright notwithstanding) looks respectable for a change.

    The last piece of the planning puzzle is the carrying of so many Rule 5 players. Santander I get because we’ve got this much time tied up in him already. And he looks like he could be a reasonable asset at some point. He needs time in the minors though because he’s not there yet at the MLB level. Araujo has potential, but to have him on the roster right now isn’t exactly helping us in the bullpen. And to have carried Cortes into the season instead of cutting him loose during ST is questionable judgment to me.

    Again this all comes back to planning. These are needs that we could have addressed. We could have made moves for Moustakas and Jay, making Beckham our super utility guy and getting some much needed OBP from Jay. Considering what they both signed for, we should have been competitive to sign them both. I don’t normally advocate for building via free agency, but until we have the prospects ready to come up and fill in, it is a way of buying time and being competitive (as opposed to contending, a term our front office never seems to use.)

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 9:17 am

      I’m with you, though I will say the Cortes thing was worth a shot for two weeks. You needed to see if that stuff could play at the MLB level in real situations. Now it is unfortunate he was in positions with the game on the line. But with a soft-tossing lefty they had to see him against tough competition. They saw. He’s gone.

      • bigdaddydk

        April 20, 2018 at 8:09 am

        I can see finding out if his stuff will play at this level. But your point that putting him in with the game on the line is quite important. He was thrust into situations that didn’t seem to be particularly favorable for him, and he didn’t pan out. I, for one, would like to see us bypass the Rule 5 draft next year, not go out and grab two or three more guys. They’re not depth. They’re spots on the 25-man roster. Inflexibility such as what they create is not what we need.

  7. Orial

    April 19, 2018 at 8:32 am

    All previous replies have pretty well summed it up. The strikeouts really stand out(nothing’s gonna happen if ball can’t be put in play). The OF defense which used to be a problem has been decent(thank you Buck for not being afraid to use Gentry) BUT that infield. Still think Manny’s switch has thrown everything into a flux. The schedule theory which I originally called the culprit may be disproving itself this week by playing the Tigers(a team rated worse). If there is an excuse even,remotely

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 9:25 am

      Agreed. Detroit seems comparable or a click below.

  8. Orial

    April 19, 2018 at 8:37 am

    In conclusion(sorry hit send by mistake before) the cold may have effected the offense. One real big problem–that bullpen. Even when Buck makes the right choices(O’Day,Araujo yesterday) they cough it. Can’t blame all that on Brittons availability.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 9:26 am

      That’s one aspect I’m not too worried about. Too much talent there to be overly concerned.

  9. JParsley

    April 19, 2018 at 9:07 am

    I don’t think luck has much to do with it, the weather and schedule doesn’t help, and I don’t think this is a bad team. they are just flat out not playing up to their abilities, mainly offensively. We have a potentially very good offense that is simply not doing enough to win games. The pitching is good enough to be in most games with a couple exceptions. But bottom line they have to score or something needs to be shaken up

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 9:26 am

      Yeah. I just don’t know how you shake it up with so many people struggling at once.

    • JParsley

      April 19, 2018 at 10:50 am

      There are many ways to shake things up. Maybe all it would take is a managerial rant or a brawl or a new puppy

  10. TheFatMan

    April 19, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Chinese lunch menu answer, a little from each column. Bad schedule as they are playing a lot of last season’s playoff teams early. Bad luck as evidenced by Davis’ long single vs. Detroit’s 3 run HR yesterday. Additionally, Schoop’s injury and lack of run support when Bundy pitches, could be attributed some to bad luck. Unfortunately, I think it is mostly just that they are not that good. A one dimensional offense that has little speed, bat control, and strike zone judgement. A defense that has been declining and was made weaker with the Machado move to short. Bullpen is overworked and starting rotation is pretty inconsistent beyond Bundy and Cashner. IMHO, Machado needs to be moved as well as Brach and Britton if they bring a decent return. I would keep Jones to be my right fielder next year, but I really think he needs to move out of center after this year. Time to enjoy the few youngsters here and producing (Mancini and Bundy and Schoop) and hope others in the system and the ones we get in trades develop quickly and to high end of expectations. If Davis doesn’t get his mind straight, this could be one of the worst contracts in club history.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 9:28 am

      You cover a lot of it. And I like Chinese menu reference. Drink chip.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 19, 2018 at 9:55 am

      It was the worst contract in club history the day it was signed.

      • TheFatMan

        April 19, 2018 at 10:15 am

        It very well may be, but Ubaldo is up there. I am just wondering if we have a Lloyd’s of London policy like we did with Belle. Not that I want to see him hurt, but that is going to be a burden for a long time if he can’t hit .250. His defense is pretty darn good, but can’t keep the bat in the lineup forever. Very sad that we bid against ourselves like that.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 11:32 am

      Insurance policies cover injuries. Usually not ineffectiveness.

  11. Dblack2508

    April 19, 2018 at 9:19 am

    I think it’s a combination of all the above. They’re a extremely one dimensional lineup. The starting rotation has pitched at times very good. minus Tillman. Last trade deadline I was hoping they could move expiring asset’s and become younger, it’s looking like that was a huge mistake.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 9:28 am

      May be a bigger mistake this year.

  12. Bancells Moustache

    April 19, 2018 at 9:35 am

    2 more games. 22 more strikeouts. Orioles Current pace: 1791.

    The schedule is what it is. Outside of playing the defending world champions, it’s been made up of three teams in the division and a rebuilding Tigers team. You have to be able to go toe to toe with Boston and New York every year, and you should be able to beat a Detroit team with a bunch of Minor Leaguers and Miguel Cabrera, who has pigeon s**t on his shoulders because they’ve already made him into a statue. So much for that excuse.

    I subscribe to the idea that cold weather has a significant impact on hitters, but not a historic level of strikeouts impact. My conclusion is, they are just a bad baseball team.

  13. Osfan73

    April 19, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Bad team I’m afraid. Hate to say that but it appears so. Too many things the lineup cannot do-get on base, steal, play small ball when necessary, move runners up things like that. Now the bullpen is sort of up & down performance wise, especially with a late lead-Oday/Givens. The difficult schedule to open hasn’t done the Os any favors but so what! You still have to play the games, execute and perform against any opposition!!

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 10:21 am

      Again, more solid reasoning.

  14. garyintheloo

    April 19, 2018 at 10:02 am

    First of all I really appreciate how you and your staff provide a quick response to the commenters as it really provides some prospective to the ventors. I agree that this is not a good roster but the starting pitching with some obvious exceptions appears to be better than last year and I believe the bullpen will straighten out. I believe in Givens and think Araujo will be a keeper as he is getting a baptism of fire in his first time above A-ball. Use the next three months to evaluate assets for departure and remake the roster as it worked for us in 1989 cause this bird is cooked. 2012 and 2014 aren’t coming back but 1988 might.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Gary: I truly appreciate that you appreciate the return comments. It can be an undertaking, especially during the season. But I feel like that can be something we do a little differently and hopefully it resonates with readers. Lots of good Os coverage out there. We’re trying to be a little different. And I’m with you on Araujo.

  15. dap1285

    April 19, 2018 at 10:08 am

    I think even if we start to put it together it might be too late and it will give everyone this false sense of confidence in our roster. If we wait to panic until June like Mr. Jones said, we’re still going to be looking at the same situation. By the time Britton comes back, we don’t know which Britton we’re even getting back. And once everyone else in the bullpen can get back to their regularly scheduled programming, they are going to be worn out. We have a situation at catcher that is up in the air. One is great defensively but hits .100 and the other is pretty good offensively but lacks the defensive skills. Chris Davis is sucking…. the life and energy out of the rest of the lineup. Our infield defense (now especially with Schoop out) is not where it should be. Other than Bundy, we don’t know what we’re getting game to game from our other 3 starters and mystery 5th starter. When we do get hot, which will inevitably happen, we will hit 30 homeruns in a week and then go 4-14 and hit 7 in that span. Even if we had a better schedule, we might only have a win or two more. Tillman would have still given up 7 runs in the first two innings to the Ironbirds. I just hope we aren’t “mathematically still in it” at the deadline and they don’t trade for some young talent.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 11:32 am

      That is a concern. But at this pace Dap, that would be some twisted math.

  16. phildell

    April 19, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Why would anyone be surprised by this early season struggle? A look at the schedule for April should have been cause for concern. Boston and New York are loaded. Houston is the defending WC. Minnesota has vastly improved their club and Toronto is solid. And Cleveland has been a very good team the past few years. Detroit seemed to be the only soft spot on the schedule and we see what’s happening there. While the starting pitching has improved significantly, the bullpen has been disappointing but like you said Dan, I think they’ll get into a groove because there’s too much talent there. The hitting, or should I say the lack thereof, is atrocious. 187 strikeouts through the first 17 games. The most since 1913! Eleven of the 27 needed aren’t even put in play. That’s a huge concern. But!!! It’s April. It’s a long season. I believe this team will hit. I just hope it’s not too late to challenge for a playoff spot before they get in gear.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 11:33 am

      All solid points. Drink chip.

  17. bickel57

    April 19, 2018 at 10:20 am

    The schedule is what it is. It was a tough stretch. These are the teams you have to beat if you want to make the playoffs and go deep into it. This showed that they are no where ready to compete for a playoff spot. The weather is bad for both teams. There a few teams that have been postponed a lot more than the O’s. So you can’t blame it on that. This team is not play well only a few players are hitting. They strike out to much. The one thing I worried about the most was the starting pitchers for the most part have been decent but suffer from the lack of offense. I will give to May 1st and if it hasn’t started turning around then slowly start to tear this a part. Start bringing up the prospects and inserting them . If need be make changes to the coaching staff. Bring up Tim Raines and let him take over as the hitting coach

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Remember that is Tim Raines Jr., not his dad.

  18. jkneps63

    April 19, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Simply bad, so bad it had me searching online for worst MLB records of all-time and the O’s current winning percentage would qualify them for worst 25 MLB record. The two losses to Detroit make me think it’s not just the schedule, which I was hoping might be a significant mitigating factor. It’s time to do something that serves as a wake up call to this bunch of players, most who are simply underachieving (Davis, Jones, Schoop, et al). Firing Duquette would probably give the players the impression that, yeah, they stink and they can continue their underachieving ways but I would love the O’s to pick up a GM with a money-ball approach. Buck isn’t motivating his players IMO, it may be time for him to move on and O’s to follow the Reds and replace their field general and his coaches.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 11:47 am

      What’s a Moneyball approach? Finding the next Zito, Hudson and Mulder?

      • jkneps63

        April 19, 2018 at 1:02 pm

        For me, it is not sticking with position players who cannot post a 0.325 OBP in the minors and not sticking with pitcher who cannot post a 1.25 WHIP in the minors. Furthermore, I think it is a offensive philosophy that favors OBP over a high HR, high strikeout approach. Again with the cynicism DC! I bid you adieu…

  19. Jack Gibbons

    April 19, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Dan, When the Orioles lost in the manner they did yesterday, I thought the fans needed an outlet, and the tap room is a
    gathering place for passionate and informed responses. The weather has been particularly bad for baseball this season, and has been a factor in the quality of play. However, the Orioles — with the exception of a couple of gritty wins in New York — don’t seem capable of rising above the elements or their opponents at this point. Looking forward to Cobb’s start today — they could have 4 solid starters — but I’m already eager to see Hays, Mullins and an infusion of youth.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 19, 2018 at 11:49 am

      It will be interesting to see how much PT they give to young guys this year. May go hand-in-hand with any fire sale.

  20. Creatively_19

    April 19, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I think I’ve been saying it for a while now, if this team isn’t built to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees, then what is the point? It boggles my mind that we’re trying to be competitive with the players we have now, when we could have traded Machado for a decent return any number of times in the last 2 years. Instead this team is not competitive and we’ll have to accept much less in return come the trade deadline. It’s just plain bad. I don’t WANT to rebuild this team from the ground up, I don’t want to watch it, but it’s time and it needs to be done.

  21. willmiranda

    April 19, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    This is not a one-dimensional team; it’s a no-dimensional team. What dimension is working? The thing their best at is making excuses, even with Ubaldo gone. Buck is great at it. There’s no dimension because the team is flat, and has been since last year. They can’t get up for big challenges, like this year’s schedule. I mentioned this before and it was interpreted as meaning that the players aren’t trying. I don’t mean that. I mean that they have a plateau of performance that looks good against easy foes but does not beat tougher ones. To switch the metaphor, they’re incapable of shifting to a higher gear. I don’t know if it’s physical, mental, or cultural; but they need fire. Last year, Beckham’s acquisition did it for a while, but flamed out. End of Rant.

  22. sjm5131

    April 19, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Comments so far have summed it up pretty well. I do think there is an intangible at play here.

    Maybe I’m projecting my feelings as a fan onto the players, but there is a certain fatalism about this team.

    Right now this feels like a team in suspended animation. Many of the principle actors from the fleeting glory of 2012-16 are still here, but with greatly diminished skills. The roster seems replete with players such as Davis, O’Day and Tillman who no longer offer the production needed to contribute to a playoff run, but who have such stature (or salaries) that it’s impossible to be rid of them.

    The saviors of Jones and Machado are still productive, but both have tremendous personal and professional incentive to leave Baltimore.

    I think this team will improve, but does anyone really think this team can win the World Series this year? Not even the most optimistic fan can truly believe that. So what exactly is this 2018 season about? It feels inevitable that the season will end with disappointment, followed by the departures of two franchise icons.

    This team lacks something that its predecessors had. Where previous teams found ways to win, this one is finding ways to lose. I think the bleak reality of what’s facing this group makes it easier for them to underperform relative to their talent.

  23. TxBirdFan

    April 19, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    I may be a loner, but I think the O’s will turn it around. Their roster is more talented than last years, and when Schoop, Britton and Trumbo get back they should be a able to beat anyone. I do agree they have played flat ever since last years All Star break. No matter if it’s the schedule or weather, they need a shot in the arm. Their roster is too good to lose so often. The Reds already fired their manager and they are just 2 games off the Orioles pace. So there’s that!

  24. Delsym

    April 19, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Good team, but not great, NO plate discipline and some head cases when things go south. Just move Machado and find someone with range who’s no so greedy. He’s simply a distraction and dim headed on the base paths. We cannot play stupid or we will be dead last. Too much talent, but very poor investments at 1st and DH. No names need be mentioned, head cases both. Great glove at first, but if he takes three strikes one more time, he needs a week on the bench or a return to the minors and a traveling shrink! Stop chewing, perhaps it’s a problem of not being able to do two things at once?? We must stop giving up HRs!!! It’s cold and raining and one would think it’s holiday gift season for our opponents. I think we’ve got the talent on the hill, that will be fine and there is a lot of season left. Time to off load Manny and move on. We’re just not deep enough to win without a full deck. I say bring on our youth, Mountcastle et. al., and let them get experience here…1st base too. We need a hitter, that’s just not the position for our best glove! I hope we can retain Adam, though I would move him, just would like to keep chemistry and fun with work ethic, same with Jonathan, they need each other and we need them… and Buck, but he’s gotta find a shorter leash…I am not sure I can watch a tired Starter fall apart when we all see it coming but Buck!!! Will Kevin ever start solid, and will he learn to pitch? Bundy’s a master, Kevin just trusts his velocity too much, can’t reliably locate, gonna be hit hard when it warms up I am afraid. Too much talent in our division to suck this long and hard…Straw has collapsed, hopefully the shake will melt when the sun returns. Still hopeful!! But, then, I am getting older so not sure it’s well grounded. I really hate losing and if we get more than 10 back, it will be smaller white balls for me and no summer spectating. Go Os!!

  25. tkrowan

    April 19, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    I don’t believe the weather is at fault. I feel that our starters don’t fear any loss of play from the manager. Moving Manny to SS has weakened us defensively more than it has helped us. Why we wanted to accommodate him, since he has no plans to sign with us still befuddles me. Buck has been able to bring teams back to respectably before, but never to the big show. Teams like KC and the Giants have no more money than we do, yet they were able to move to the top. Dumpster diving just isn’t sustainable. It’s going to be a long, long season.

  26. Birdman

    April 19, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    What in the world is going on with Cobb? I know he didn’t have normal spring training preparation, but 20 hits in 7.0 innings? I thought his signing could be a game changer, maybe even giving O’s a shot to compete for a wild card – that analysis sure isn’t looking too sharp at the moment.

  27. Mau

    April 19, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    I blame it all on Toronto’s trojan horse Danny and Peter Angelos. It ain’t going to get much better as long as both are eating crabcakes in Baltimore on a regular basis.

  28. Ben1

    April 20, 2018 at 6:19 am

    So many people and issues to point at .. but generally when all goes wrong look at the top 1st.

  29. Rusty Trumbo

    April 21, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    a combination of things – the team has made some downright bizarre choices
    Davis Leading Off, Mike Wright in the rotation (or on the roster), The insane amount of rule 5 player + I don’t agree with moving Manny to third and hate the loss of flexibility w/o Flaherty on the roster.

    Yes, the schedule is tough and they’ve had some bad luck but they’re not helping their cause with some of these decisions.

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