Some questions and possible answers about Orioles' 2020 season -

Rich Dubroff

Some questions and possible answers about Orioles’ 2020 season

As the countdown to the 2020 baseball season begins in earnest, let’s look at some questions and possible answers.

How many games will the Orioles win? According to BetOnline, the Orioles will win 21 ½ games, tied with the Detroit Tigers for fewest in the major leagues.

Giving the Orioles the “over,” would make them 22-38 or better. If they exceeded the online oddsmaker’s prediction, 22 wins would give them a winning percentage of .367.

Projected for a full 162-game season, that would be a 60-102 record, six games better than last year.

In January, BetOnline forecast that the Orioles and Tigers would have the fewest wins in the majors—55 ½, so the oddsmaker is thinking they’ll have a slightly better record, percentage-wise, in the shorter season.

Could the Orioles upset the experts? Of course, but keep in mind they’d probably need a hot streak to do it.

Last year, the Orioles’ longest winning streak was just four games, and that came from the second to fifth games of the season.

They had a 10-game losing streak in June, and should they or another team have a streak that long, it would badly hurt their playoff chances. In a 162-game season, there’s plenty of time to recover.

In 1984, the Detroit Tigers had the best 40-game start in baseball history, 35-5. They went on to win the World Series. If another team had a start like that, it would secure a playoff spot.


Four years later, the Orioles lost their first 21 games on their way to a 54-107 record. It wouldn’t be a good idea for the Orioles or any team to duplicate that start.

How much will star players play? It’s tempting to say that many players will play all 60 games, but we don’t know what kind of shape they’ll be in after this long layoff.

Because there are no cross-country trips or any out of the Eastern time zone, the best players should be able to play a complete schedule.

But the Orioles will want to get a look at some of their younger players, and it’s likely that many players will see playing time.

Wouldn’t this be a good time to look at Adley Rutschman, Yusniel Diaz, Michael Baumann or DL Hall? It seems unlikely that the team would want to rush valuable young players to the major leagues.

Rutschman would most likely have started the season at High-A Frederick and moved on to Double-A Bowie. Hall was probably going to start with the Baysox while Baumann and Diaz would likely have begun with Triple-A Norfolk.

The Orioles don’t want to start the service clock on young players ahead of where they were going to, but Diaz could get some playing time later in the season. It’s possible you’ll see Baumann, too, but that seems like a longer shot.

Do the Orioles have enough starting pitching? As long as John Means, Alex Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski, Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone are healthy, they’ll be in decent shape.

In the normal length season, you’d expect some of the starters to be switched out so that Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Bruce Zimmermann could get big league exposure.

That will probably be the case, but 60 games works out to a 12-start maximum.

Do Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde have innovative ideas? We don’t know yet, but because of a short camp before the July 24 start, perhaps there will be a piggyback approach where one of the starters throws three or four innings with a long reliever following with two or three.

For the first two weeks of the season, teams get to carry 30 players, and then 28 for two more weeks, and finally 26 for the final weeks of the season.

Elias says he’s trying to develop an elite talent pipeline. Will the shorter season help or hurt? I think the Orioles are at a disadvantage because they have many young players with short track records.

It’s hard enough making judgments on 162-game seasons. Making them on 60 games is liable to be fraught with danger.

Can the Orioles make trades? Yes, they’ll have the first five weeks of the season to make trades but since few games will have been played, many teams might think they’ll have a reasonable chance for the postseason.

That could shrink the market for Cobb and reliever Mychal Givens, two of the Orioles’ trade chips.

Will the short season help any players? It could help a veteran pitcher like Wojciechowski, LeBlanc or Milone. LeBlanc and Milone are still on minor league deals and need to be added to the 40-man roster. If they have several good starts, that could make them attractive and inexpensive free agents in a market that’s likely to be flooded with a large number of veterans.

It could also help some of the many relief pitchers who performed well during the early part of spring training — Cody Carroll, Eric Hanhold, Branden Kline and Cole Sulser.

In a normal year, they might not have been part of the eight-man bullpen but with the team likely to carry a few more pitchers, they might get big league exposure that they wouldn’t have in a normal year.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Johnnypoff

    June 25, 2020 at 7:39 am

    2020 looks to be chock full of craziness! At least we get some baseball to watch. Rich, I could have swore I read somewhere that just for 2020 the service time clock would not start on the minor leaguers if they were brought up to play in the majors. Was that an inaccurate report? It would be insane to see Adley play this year in the Show.Thanks so much!

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 25, 2020 at 8:26 am

      Johnny, I have not seen anything about the service clock not applying to minor leaguers.

  2. Orial

    June 25, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Interesting takes Rich. Seems with a 60 game schedule a team’s fexibility will be limited. That being said why couldn’t MILB unilaterally be able to start up? Is it once again a financial issue

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 25, 2020 at 10:56 am

      MiLB has no TV revenue. They get almost all their money from paid admissions. Without that, they would take a real bath, Orial.

  3. Bman

    June 25, 2020 at 11:46 am

    That will be one of the questions if they can trade Cobb or Givens or some of the other aging veterans. Most likely will get very little in return. I was thinking of another bad season and some more top draft picks, but it could be enjoyable to see the Os make an unexpected run in a super short season. But keep that elite talentpool pipeline going!

  4. willmiranda

    June 25, 2020 at 11:55 am

    For contenders, the wild card will be injuries or sickness. A star player or two out for even a short stint on the
    injured list will affect a significant proportion of games.

  5. ClayDal

    June 25, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    The 2 biggest trade chips the Orioles have appear to be Givens and Bleier. Since the trade deadline is August 31, that only gives 40 days or so once the season starts to make trades. Since there is only 3 weeks of “Spring “ training, can’t see starting pitchers going more than 3-4 innings for at least the first two weeks. So even if Alex Cobb is healthy ( big if), he would only have at most 8 starts by the deadline. Optimistically, he won’t return to his usual form by his 5th start or so. Unless the Orioles are willing to eat most if not all of his remaining contract, hard to see a team interested in him. One sleeper trade chip-Renato Nunez. With the NL using the DH, if he gets off to a good start, they might be able to move him. Especially since he is arbitration eligible next year and eventually Mountcastle has to be here.

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 25, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Start the clock on Rutschman game 1? I’d consider it.

    • CalsPals

      June 25, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      Agree, a BIG 2nd here…best players play…go O’s…

    • Bhoffman1

      June 25, 2020 at 1:22 pm

      Agree, Diaz plus all the young starters. Who the hell wants to see Wade Leblanc, Tommy Milone,

      • Bancells Moustache

        June 25, 2020 at 1:54 pm

        I’m not sure I can go with Adley as the best catcher in the organization, not coming off a .261 batting average in the Sally League. But then, how does he improve without reps? there is zero reason Ryan Mountcastle isn’t in the starting lineup July 23d, but Rutschman might still be too green.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 25, 2020 at 1:54 pm

      I just can’t see having this guy not play this year. And I’m not talking about some Sarasota inter-squad games either. By all accounts he’d already be an upgrade behind the plate. He’s 22+ years old .. the league is full of boys that age or under. Lets see what he’s got.

    • Bhoffman1

      June 25, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      Again I saw Adley swing in WPB this spring and it’s major league ready and at 22 he’s not a teenager anymore. Diaz , Mountcastle if they don’t play this year they will go down not up. Since Mancini cannot play it opens right field for Diaz. Let Mountcastle roam in left and learn how to catch fly balls. Does it really matter if we win 10 or 30 games

      • willmiranda

        June 25, 2020 at 2:33 pm

        With all due respect to Dwight Smith, Jr., would Mountcastle be that big a defensive drop off?

        • Bancells Moustache

          June 25, 2020 at 3:51 pm

          I agree he needs to play, but jumping to the Bigs after a half season in Aberdeen and Delmarva is a REALLY bold timeline for anyone. Had he torched the Sally league I still wouldn’t be too confident. Rutschman is the most important member of the entire organization by a wide margin and is far too valuable an asset to screw up by rushing him.

        • Bancells Moustache

          June 25, 2020 at 4:03 pm

          And I’m in the minority but I hate the idea of putting Mountcastle in left. If his arm isn’t strong enough to handle third, what sense does it make to instead have him trying to get guys at second or home from the outfield corner?!

    • CalsPals

      June 25, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      Maybe no different, all things equal the chance he’s better offensively I’d play him…go O’s…

    • whiterose

      June 25, 2020 at 10:05 pm


  7. WorldlyView

    June 25, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    Rich, I think you are too optimistic about the quality of the starting rotation. Maybe you are just being charitable when you say that the O’s will be in “decent shape” if all five stay healthy. Later you note that LeBlanc and Milone are still on minor league deals and not even on the 40-man roster. This is NOT something that inspires confidence that the back end of the rotation will instill fear in opposing batters. Plus I think there are question marks surrounding each of the other three projected starters.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 25, 2020 at 3:21 pm

      Professor Cohen, the Orioles have many question marks.

  8. dlgruber1

    June 25, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    In all seriousness, I’m a 60 year old lifelong O’s fan but I’m in no hurry to see Rutschman, Mountcastle, Hall or any of their top prospects this “season”. I’m not saying they should tank, you should ALWAYS play your hardest, but I’d like to see them get as high a draft picks as possible again next year. I’ve waited long enough, what’s a year or two longer to wait for a contending club?

    • Bancells Moustache

      June 25, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      You don’t want them to tank, but you want them to not play their young talent and get as high a draft choice as possible.

    • CalsPals

      June 25, 2020 at 6:53 pm

      In all seriousness, I’m a 60 year old lifetime O’s fan, I’m quite ready to see as many of our BEST young players as possible…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 25, 2020 at 9:31 pm

      With all due respect, it Sounds like you DO want them to tank.

    • dlgruber1

      June 26, 2020 at 10:27 pm

      I expected any replies to be like that, and that’s fine. Let me explain. After the MASN ruling the odds of the O’s signing any future stars to long term contracts went from slim to none. I want Rutschman et al to be here for as long as possible with a chance to contend. Having them play and use up service time in this joke of a season would be absurd. I mean, a runner on second to start innings in extra inning games,

  9. dlgruber1

    June 26, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    Completing my thoughts. What are they gonna do next, start spotting teams a run or two to give them a better chance to compete? And for any O’s fan who thinks they might catch lightning in a bottle and somehow contend in this joke of a season, done worry, I’m guessing Manfred will give out participation trophies to all owners this year so they can show them off to their fans next spring.

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