Can streaking Orioles make an expanded postseason? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Can streaking Orioles make an expanded postseason?

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Each day, BaseballReference.com not only updates player and team statistics around baseball, it projects playoff teams, even at this early stage of the 2020 season.

On Thursday morning, Oriole fans who scanned the site were in for a surprise when they saw their favorite team projected as one of five American League wild-card teams along with Cleveland, Houston, Tampa Bay and Chicago.

We know it’s too early to think about the postseason, even though the 60-game regular season will be a third complete for the Orioles after Saturday night’s game against the Washington Nationals. But the Orioles have won five straight, are 10-7 and, with the exception of a few games against the Marlins and their opener, have exceeded expectations. And, they’ve been fun to watch.

The schedule is so bizarre that by the time the weekend series with the Nationals ends, they’ll have played 13 of their 21 games against the National League East—six with the Nationals, four against Miami and three with Philadelphia.

Beginning Monday, the Orioles play 32 of their final 39 games against the American League East. So far, they’ve played three games each with Boston and Tampa Bay and two against New York.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, who was part of four postseason teams with the Chicago Cubs from 2015-2018, knows it’s too early to be discussing playoffs, even this season.

“I think that we’re still so early in the season, and we have a really tough schedule the rest of the way, and I just want to honestly focus on winning today and winning as many series as we can, and whatever happens, happens,” Hyde said on Thursday in a pregame video conference call.

Of the Orioles’ 10 wins, three have come against the Rays, who won 96 games last season, three against the Phillies  and two each against Boston and Washington, all considered playoff teams this year.

On Friday, the Orioles will resume Sunday’s suspended game against the Nationals — cut short when Washington’s grounds crew struggled with the tarp during a rainstorm — with a 5-2 lead and runners on first and second with one out in the top of the sixth. The Nationals, who are the defending World Series champions, are 6-9 after losing to the Mets on Thursday.

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A year ago, Washington had an awful start, 19-31 in its first 50 games. The Nationals’ 60-game record of 27-33 wouldn’t have qualified for a 60-game postseason.

Through 60 games in 2019, four teams close to .500 would have been wild cards in the American League — Boston (31-29), Cleveland (30-30), Oakland (30-30) and Texas (32-28).

Of those, only the Athletics, who won 97 games, and Tampa Bay made it to the wild-card game.

It’s possible that teams at—or even below .500—will play in the new best-of-three wild-card round of a 16-team postseason. All games are scheduled to be played on the higher seeds’ home fields, although there are reports that Major League Baseball is considering a postseason bubble, where games would be played at neutral sites.

Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz said his team is trying not to look ahead.

“We’ve been playing some good ball, man,” Ruiz said. “We’ve been playing some hard teams, some unreal lineups, some big arms. We’ve just been getting the job done. Obviously, we’d love to continue that from here on out.”

When the Orioles’ 60-game schedule was released, the conventional wisdom was that the only team they could count on beating was the Miami Marlins. Miami lost 105 games in 2019. Baltimore lost 108 a year after losing 115.

The Marlins, who had 18 players test positive for Covid-19 after the opening weekend, didn’t play for eight days. When they resumed, they beat the Orioles four straight in Baltimore, making the Orioles look inept.

After this weekend’s series against the Nationals, the Orioles have 10 games against Toronto — seven in their temporary Buffalo home — eight with the Yankees, and seven each against Boston and Tampa Bay.

They have seven games against National League teams — four games with the New York Mets, two in Baltimore and two at Citi Field, and three with Atlanta.

But it’s those games against the Yankees that stick out. If the Orioles are to play beyond September 27th, the final date of the regular season, they’ll have to break their 18-game losing streak against New York, which is a team record against an opponent.

And, they’ll have to do more than just end the streak. They’ll have to win multiple games against the Yankees.

They next play New York in a doubleheader on September 4th at Camden Yards to begin a four-game series.

“I’m pleased with our play so far this year,” Hyde said. “I’m proud of our guys. I think we’re playing hard. I think we’re playing hungry. I think our guys are improving.

“We’re in a tough division, and this is a tough league, and we have a tough schedule, and we’re not going to back down from anybody. We’re going to continue to play hard. We’re going to see where we are at the end of this thing. I’m not looking too far ahead.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. Orial

    August 14, 2020 at 8:26 am

    With the expanded playoff pool I see no reason at this point why the Orioles can’t be one of those teams. I’m not just saying that as an overly optimistic fan but this team shows some tangibles/players coming into their oen tendencies. Two things could derail it–the pitching,which has been solid,to revert to old forms AND Chris Davis can not be allowed to be at bat in critical moments(Wed night-ouch). Observation time–it seems that certain teams that should be better are playing heartless ball. I don’t know if it’s the strange schedule, they don’t wanna be here,stadiums too quiet,but something seems unusual. Other than the Yankees and Dodgers there’s no juice. Now that’s where the O’s come in. They’re playing hard,over achieving so ya never know. Are the stars aligning? I think so.

    • BirdsCaps

      August 14, 2020 at 8:55 am

      It is kind of how I feel. It feels like a fluke for 2020.Sadly, if it’s a fluke, it will slow the rebuild due to a worse draft pick and holding onto players that could be dealt at the deadline. Given, a playoff run would be worth a little bit of a setback, and most assets could be dealt at a later date if this is a fluke. So I also feel like this might be our yr to be competitive (I have the same dumbfounded feel that I did during 2012), but I don’t have my hopes too high, especially for success during a full normal season.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 14, 2020 at 9:04 am

        Booooooooo……

        My gosh I’ll never understand that thinking. Do you actually root for the O’s to lose as you’re watching the games? Do you cringe with each Oriole run scored? Do you really think you have to have the top draft picks to be a winner?

        • Jbigle1

          August 14, 2020 at 10:44 am

          With the draft strategy we used this year, picking at the very top of the draft wasn’t quite as important anyway. We didn’t take the best guy on the board at #2.

          Saved some money doing so which allowed us to add Baumler, the 5th round pick from HS instead of having to go with a slot value guy there. There’s definitely some advantage to picking early but it isn’t crippling if we don’t this year. Lots of way to play the draft.

        • BirdsCaps

          August 15, 2020 at 7:43 pm

          I am rooting for the team. This is fun. However there are costs to winning, especially if this is a fluke. I would be skeptical about building around this bunch. Heck, this might even be their yr. it is 2020, so who the heck knows maybe they’ll win the Series!

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 14, 2020 at 9:02 am

    NIce recap and look-ahead Rich. My head is spinning.
    Gonna half to read this again to let it all sink in.

    Soooooo….. In a Bizarrro league employing Bizarro rules during a Bizarro year in a Bizarro world, I’m all in on the BizarrO’s !!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 14, 2020 at 9:09 am

      “have to” ….my 6th grade Texas education is showing through.

    • Raymo

      August 14, 2020 at 6:41 pm

      The BizarrO’s!! Brilliant!

  3. Bhoffman1

    August 14, 2020 at 9:17 am

    In my humble opinion they are going to need starters to go more then 4 or 5 innings to complete long term as the bullpen will eventually get overworked. Also they need another outfielder on the team. Obviously I like most fans would like to see RM penciled in LF especially against lefties. I wouldn’t mind Williams too as he can give Hays a days rest in CF and play much better defense then Smith and get on base too. Talk about pitching why is Bundy not giving up golfer balls this season . Is getting out of Camden Yards friendly fences the reason?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

      Absolutely OPACY is a home run haven. IMO … as beautiful and iconic a place as it is, it’s a joke of a ballpark because of the combination of low walls, short fences and humidity. (not to dismiss the huge modern day hitter) Where as Memorial and it’s dimensions had a lot to do with the success of the 60s and 70s team, OPACY is a pitcher’s nightmare. All it takes is one pop fly tater to ruin a pitchers day.

    • Bhoffman1

      August 14, 2020 at 10:59 am

      Well maybe they should consider building a higher wall. They can call Trump. Seriously moving back the dimensions a bit. Bundys throwing the same stuff as last year and the balls staying in the park

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 14, 2020 at 12:46 pm

        Moving the walls back would be ideal IMO. I’m no engineer, but just looking at the proximity of the fans and a kazillion tons of existing concrete, I suspect that wouldn’t be easily accomplished or inexpensive.

        • Jbigle1

          August 14, 2020 at 1:05 pm

          Wall gets moved is probably not going to happen. But upper management can choose to start drafting and developing groundball pitchers though. Elias hasn’t really drafted too many pitchers in his 2 drafts so it’s hard to say if that’s something he’s thinking about.

        • Bancells Moustache

          August 14, 2020 at 2:23 pm

          If you’ve ever sat in the outfield, the front row seats on the immediate edge of the fence force you to sit up, as the wall is about nose level on a grown man. if you take your kid with you they have a tough time seeing the game if they are little. So raising the fences means you lose 2-3 rows, about a thousand or so seats each of which generates $25 to $40 bucks of revenue every night. So that ain’t happening. There is no need to do so. The problem is the quality of pitcher and the development of said pitcher. Mr Mussina played 10 years in Camden Yards and is currently penning a speech to deliver in Cooperstown. Mr Britton didn’t seem to have any issues with the ballparks dimensions either.

          • Jbigle1

            August 14, 2020 at 2:35 pm

            Britton was an extreme groundball pitcher. Mussina got the ball on the ground at a decent clip as well. He also played before the launch angle revolution. But it was smack in the middle of the steroid era. We aren’t the only team with an unfavorable park though. The lack of development has been an organizational problem for sure. IE Jake Arrieta not being allowed to use his cutter when he was w/ the O’s.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            August 14, 2020 at 3:37 pm

            BanMo … Tru dat about Mussina & Britton. But in reality, how many HOF pitchers do you realistically expect your team to develop? Even for all star type pitchers, the dimensions of Camden is going to prove more than a challenge. I do agree though, that the park won’t be changing anytime soon, and our beloved 3-2 scores of yesteryear will become an even more distant memory. Chicks dig the long ball ‘eh? It’s a shame. Small ball baseball was a superior product IMO. Ain’t happing at OPACY.

    • Bhoffman1

      August 14, 2020 at 11:08 am

      Plus with those factors you mention for Judge, Stanton and the rest of the lot if they mishit it the ball still goes out. How do you beat them in Camden Yards

  4. Bancells Moustache

    August 14, 2020 at 9:50 am

    I’m loving this, and don’t understand why others can’t just shut up and ride the lightning. Do I think it lasts? Probably not…but it could. Do I remember 1989? Hell yes… but I remember 2005 also. I don’t think this upsets “the plan” everyone insists is the holiest of holies. Indeed, I think it helps, as now Elias can negotiate from a position of strength the trades he no doubt will still be making at the deadline.

    • Bhoffman1

      August 14, 2020 at 10:15 am

      Shut up is that what you want? Making suggestions is the American way it’s called freedom of speech and democracy

  5. Hallbe62

    August 14, 2020 at 9:52 am

    I think they can !

  6. willmiranda

    August 14, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Inhibited about talking about playoffs? If not now, when?

  7. Bman

    August 14, 2020 at 10:34 am

    How are the Orioles supposed to get the top pick in the draft playing like this!?!?!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 14, 2020 at 10:55 am

      I sure hope your tongue is in your cheek?

    • Bhoffman1

      August 14, 2020 at 10:58 am

      Me too

    • Bancells Moustache

      August 14, 2020 at 11:01 am

      Dear God you are RIGHT!!! How on Earth will they ever hold a parade down Charles St. to raise the coveted “Keith Law Top Farm System” pennant if they don’t pick (searches internet to find out which 19 year old no one has ever seen play and hasn’t played an organized baseball game since mid March but is supposed to be really good in 2030)

  8. Orial

    August 14, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Let me reiterate–the main reason the O’s have a playoff shot is(just a gut observation) that other than the Dodgers,Yankees,and maybe Cubs it seems the rest of MLB is just going through the motions(not wanting to be here). As far as the number one pick–maybe they’re at the point where progress is being made. Point–damn the #1 pick. Full speed ahead.

    • Bancells Moustache

      August 14, 2020 at 12:17 pm

      I have to disagree there. I don’t believe professional athletes, who work in an ultra competitive environment where the company is literally grooming at least 8 people to replace you at any given time and cut off your access to financial security for the rest of your life, just showed up to go through the motions. I do believe some teams are struggling with “getting it together” due to the disjointed nature of the start and this will self-correct.
      Perspective. They’ve played 18 games. In a 162 game season this would be the third week of April. No one would give even a hint of a damn if the Orioles were 10-7 in the middle of April and an article from Rich with the word playoffs in the headline would be laughed off of the internet.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 14, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      No opinion on all the other stuff Al, but I’m with you on your last point. Screw the #1 pick, and screw Elias for playing for it. You play the game to win! Full speed ahead.

      • Eastern Sho Joe

        August 14, 2020 at 4:35 pm

        Mr Boog, Didn’t the #1 pick come from being last while DD was still GM in Bmore? You’ve bashed Elias for dumping Cashner. Where’s he playing this year? You slammed Elias for not resigning Villar. He’s got 5 RBIs so far, and we’re not missing him on defense either.

        You’ve been dead wrong on so many things, and now that they’ve won a few games, it seems that you’re implying that the Os are doing so in spite of your belief that its Elias’ mission to tank. Many in our current lineup came from other teams who came at little cost. However, they’ve improved since coming, could this be a result of Elias’ Player Development Strategy that he stated would be a primary focus from day 1? He’s also made it clear that the strategy is to steadily improve, and it appears that this is happening. He’ll also probably trade some productive players at the deadline, and he’ll get bashed for that too even though this is part of the rebuild strategy that they’ve been following.

        I don’t expect you to agree with this, or even care, but he’s doing a good job.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 14, 2020 at 5:38 pm

          Duquette didn’t TRY to get the 1st pick. Big difference.

          Well you’re right about one thing. I do believe the O’s are winning despite what Elias has done with this current group. If you read this site and my stuff every day, you’d see that I do give Elias credit when and where I see he deserves it. Ruiz and Iglesias are nice additions and he fell into a bucket of roses with Hanser last year. I’ve noted all 3 of these guys previously and credited Elias for them. I’m not rooting against him.

          Can you tell me who Elias got for Cashner. God knows he wasn’t one of our best 5 starters last year was he? Tank job.

          As for Villar, he was our best hitter last year. By far. Maybe Villars sparse 5 rbis this has something to do with the Marlins only playing in 12 whole games so far? That translates to over 70 in a full season. Not bad for a shortstop on a crappy hitting team. And frankly, that’s a very small sample size as they say … no? He’ll hit for more than his current .224. And I believe he’d still be starting for our team.

          And if you read my stuff, I never said Elias isn’t doing a good job. NOBODY will know that for several years. What I’ve bashed Elias for is neglecting the current team. Losing on purpose. Jockeying for draft position. Tanking. That’s what I’ve bashed him for. I’ve never said he doesn’t know how to evaluate talent. Not once. How he heck would I know? I’m honestly hoping those two pre-pubescent cabana boys turn into the next 2 great Carribean sluggers! But I’m not going to hold my breath. But to dump our ONLY proven major league pitcher last year for 2 unknowns…that’s called tanking.

          So if by ‘player development’, you mean losing on purpose to gain draft position …. fine .. I’m calling him out. It sucks. Does it work? Probably, but If it’s not cheating, it’s certainly unethical and a shortcut. What’s next? Banging trashcans in the clubhouse? If you’re going to put a subpar product on the field, at least discount the parking and beer ‘eh?

          Now .. the improvement this year. 1st off…I’m enjoying the hell out of it…I hope you are as well. But how much more improved would we be if Hays & Santander & Sisco had 200 – 500 more at bats than the currently do? They all should have been handed the reigns from day of Elias’ tenure. I’ll take Hays, Santander & Sisco over Iglesias, Ruiz & Hanser. (although I admit…Ruiz looks like he’s turning into a monster)

          AND WTF is Davis still doing on this team? And in the lineup? That’s not Hydes call…that’s Elias fellating the ownership. And it certainly has nothing to do with our current win streak does it?

          Yes…we’re winning despite what Elias has done for this current lineup. And let’s just hope that the winning continues…once we play the Yankees? That doesn’t mean I don’t think he’ll ever be a good GM. Just an unethical one willing to sweep integrity under the rug. Please put me on the records of wishing the very best for Mike Elias. He is our team’s future … win or lose.

          • Jbigle1

            August 14, 2020 at 6:54 pm

            Boog, I can’t agree with you on Davis. That’s not Mike Elias’ call. I simply don’t believe that to be true. That’s coming from the owner. I stand by that 100%.

            Villar also isn’t very good. He’s an awful defensive SS who has the ability to hit slightly above the league average when he’s on. But Villar has had more than 1 down season where his bat has been a good bit below league average. Dumping him and his 11 million dollar salary for a gold glover like Iglesias isn’t a downgrade at all to me. The fact that Iglesias is really hitting this year is just a cherry on top.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            August 14, 2020 at 7:01 pm

            Read the 2nd to last paragraph JBigs … I said that was Elias fellating the ownership. Meaning I agree, it’s coming from upstairs.

            But I dig your rap and respect it.

            As far as Villar goes … his 24 homers and FOURTY stolen bases have not been replaced. And BTW .. I’d have him playing 2nd base, not short. He was our most offensive, offensive player. Besides, this is the cat we gave up Schoop for.

    • CalsPals

      August 14, 2020 at 1:51 pm

      Totally agree Orial, to steal a football quote “You play to win the game.”…go O’s…

    • Bhoffman1

      August 14, 2020 at 5:21 pm

      There is no need to dump any players on this team to re build except Cobb although if he keeps on performing it would be nice to have one veteran pitcher to lead the youth and Davis but he is un dumpable a new word created just for him

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 14, 2020 at 7:53 pm

        Bruce … Cobb is a really good pitcher when healthy. I think you have to ride out this contract of his.

    • CalsPals

      August 14, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      I’m not so sure I’d want Cobb influencing my younger guys, not very mentally tough…one thing goes wrong he pisses down his leg…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      August 14, 2020 at 7:51 pm

      Boog, spot on, giving credit where it’s due, I also think Elias lacks a semblance of integrity, but you in professional athletics, nice guys finish last, totally agree regarding CD, I think Elias knew what he was getting into, Hyde maybe not so much…go O’s…

  9. Orial

    August 14, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    You have a point Bancells yes these players are competitors. But maybe it’s a matter of being focused and under these times if certain teams aren’t 100% focused it could be costly. Just seems too many solid teams are struggling and lesser teams thriving. Lot of mental/focus mistakes. Who knows.

    • Jbigle1

      August 14, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      We’ve actually seen some development from our young players. Sevie and Sisco have formed one of the best Catcher combinations in the MLB this year. Rio plays GG defense at 3B and is actually hitting a little bit this year. Renato is impersonating Mancini at the plate, Alberto is hitting, Santander is playing very well. And the bullpen for the most part looks pretty solid.

      BTW If anyone was wondering why Givens isn’t getting any save opportunities I have a pretty decent idea. Saves drive up arbitration costs which makes Givens less valuable in a trade. (Or more expensive to keep around here)

    • Bhoffman1

      August 14, 2020 at 4:00 pm

      If Severino and Sisco keep performing like this I would teach 1st base to AR. It will lengthen his career and enable him to play everyday. I wish 100 per cent recovery to Mancini not sure what his position he will play. He should not be in the outfield anymore

      • Jbigle1

        August 14, 2020 at 6:46 pm

        Adley isn’t going to be anything but a catcher. He’s so much better than Severino and especially Sisco behind the plate. It’d be an absolute waste to put AR at 1B.

        Realistically if you ever wanted Rutschman to move it would make more sense to try 3rd or a corner outfield slot. Some place where he would use the cannon arm he has. But that’s just something to talk about for fun—he’s a catcher for sure.

    • Bhoffman1

      August 14, 2020 at 7:14 pm

      I’m glad your so versed on his defense. I knew his hitting was off the charts didn’t know defensively he at this young age is so much better then both catchers now

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 14, 2020 at 7:28 pm

        Everything I’ve ever read about him has his defensive ability WAY above average. He was supposedly defensively ready for the bigs coming out of college.

    • CalsPals

      August 14, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      So they’ll keep him in minors for a couple yrs, I’d have him up next yr, determine who you want at 1B (CD is NOT tan option) if Mancini is OF then try Sisco there, Sevy can be your backup, or trade him while he’s worth something, you drafted a bunch of catchers, one can be a backup…go O’s…

  10. dlgruber1

    August 14, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    From what I’m reading I’m sure I know the answer to this question already but I’m gonna ask it anyway. If O’s continue to play at a level that would keep then in the playoff hunt what does Elias do when teams come calling for Cobb, Severino ( I say him because teams know AR is coming and Sisco is doing the job and catcher injuries are prevalent), maybe even Santander, if they’re offering younger high level prospects in return? I’m sure it’s a position that if he were honest Elias would say he never expected to be in. I personally love the chemistry of this team and would love to see them grow and continue together. I’m just wondering if that attitude is doing more harm than good long term.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 14, 2020 at 5:44 pm

      Trade Santander? Blasphemer!!!

      • Jbigle1

        August 14, 2020 at 6:49 pm

        No reason to move Santander. He’s 25 with 4 more seasons of control after this one. Not to mention there isn’t another decent RF prospect in the orioles system anywhere close to the majors. He’s the kind of guy you want to keep around.

        Cobb will be a salary dump if he’s traded. Yes, he’s pitching well but his contract is expensive. Can’t see any team taking on that thing and giving up real talent.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 14, 2020 at 7:03 pm

          Dude … Santander is a stud. A star in the making.

    • CalsPals

      August 14, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      Can’t really see anyone wanting and/or willing to give anything worth while for Cobb, see how things are going, maybe Severino can get us something…go O’s…

  11. PC in OC

    August 14, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    Rich, It’s not the same watching a game on TV, with out the fans. I just can’t imagine, how the players feel, especially after a great play or a hit, that bring’s them back into the game or win’s it and there is nothing but silence. The fake noise doesn’t cut it. Why don’t the Powers to be, figure it out. I know, what I would do. First of all, Any Real noise or cheering would do. Our Stadium holds about 40,000 and then some. I would allow 10,7, or 5 thousand fans into the stadium, all wearing masks and at certain times and places in the stadium, Social Distancing. Once you left your seat, wearing a mask would be mandatory. This is just for starters. I, DO NOT SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH THIS. I’n Fact, I think This is a great idea. It would also bring some sanity back.

  12. Birdman

    August 14, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    All Hail Elias!

  13. mlbbirdfan

    August 14, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    Watching on TV better than no baseball.
    When the announcers are watching the same thing we’re watching, and are not sitting in the stadium, we are getting the full picture. We’re not. Besides, Scott Garceau makes a ton of mistakes. Love Ben! And I like listening to the radio team!

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