Looking ahead to the Orioles' final 2 months - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Looking ahead to the Orioles’ final 2 months

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles’ season has a little over two months remaining, and the final 64 games could be intriguing.

Friday’s trade deadline might provide more clues about where the team is heading, though it’s not expected that any of the team’s big names will be changing addresses. Still, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has been known to construct deals quickly and quietly.

Here are some things to look for in the final third of 2021 season:

The schedule gets tougher: The Orioles are 6-3 since the All-Star break. Five of those wins came against sub-.500 teams, Kansas City and Washington.

In the first 98 games, the Orioles are 34-64, and just 20 of those games came against teams below .500. The Orioles were 10-10 in those games.

The next six games are against Miami and Detroit, the only American League team the Orioles haven’t faced. Both are sub-.500, although the Tigers have been playing well. The Orioles play 38 of their final 58 games against the American League East. They’re just 12-26 against Boston, New York, Tampa Bay and Toronto.

They don’t play a single game out of the Eastern time zone, but the schedule will make it hard for the Orioles to avoid a third 100-loss season in four years. They would have to go 29-35.

It’s still about the starters: The Orioles have used 13 starters. Seven are on the 26-man roster: John Means, Matt Harvey, Jorge López, Spenser Watkins, Alexander Wells, Thomas Eshelman and Adam Plutko.

Watkins and Wells have combined for four major league starts. Watkins will start on Tuesday night against the Marlins, and Wells will start later in the week at Detroit.


Eshelman started five times and has an 8.35 ERA. His immediate future is in long relief. Plutko was a starter in name only. On May 16th, he served as the opener against the Yankees and allowed four runs in an inning.

Keegan Akin is on the Covid-19 injured list. When he’s reinstated to the active roster, it’s not a sure thing that he’ll return to the Orioles. He hasn’t pitched since July 16th, and he has an 0-5 record and 8.16 ERA.

Bruce Zimmerman is on the 10-day injured list because of left biceps tendinitis. He hasn’t pitched since June 13th, and it’s possible he could miss two months before he returns.

Dean Kremer was sent to Triple-A Norfolk with an 0-7 record and 7.25 ERA. Manager Brandon Hyde said after he retired just one of eight batters on June 24th that Kremer needed an extended stay with the Tides.

In his five starts with Norfolk, Kremer has given up 27 runs (6 unearned) in 18 innings. His most recent start on Saturday night was better, although he still gave up three runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings without walking a batter.

The Orioles cut ties with Wade LeBlanc after his only start. Travis Lakins suffered a stress fracture during his start. Zac Lowther, who started one game, is on the minor league injured list because of a left shoulder strain.

Who will be in the rotation for the rest of the season? Wells probably will get more opportunities based on his emergency fill-in for Akin on July 21st. He gave up three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out seven.

The Orioles would like to see more of Lowther, who has struggled in the minors and majors (0-4. 6.93 at Norfolk, 0-1, 10.80 with the Orioles), but his return is uncertain.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish and left-hander Kevin Smith, obtained from the Los Angeles Angels and New York Mets for Dylan Bundy and Miguel Castro, were both excellent at Double A-Bowie (13 2/3 scoreless innings for Bradish; 1.04 ERA in six games, five starts, for Smith), but have been inconsistent at Triple-A. Bradish is 2-3 with a 5.75 ERA in 10 starts, and Smith is 1-3 with a 6.43 ERA in six starts.

Both must be placed on the 40-man roster this fall, but unless they string together some better starts, they may not get a look until next spring training.

Mike Baumann, who’s on the 40-man roster, was held back by a right flexor mass injury as well as tendinitis and has begun to pitch well for the Baysox. In his last four starts, Baumann has a 2.04 ERA, and threw six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, on Friday night. He could get a bump up to Norfolk soon, and perhaps some time with the Orioles before the season ends.

Position player debuts: Nine of the 11 Orioles who made their major league debuts this season have been pitchers. Conner Greene, whose contract was purchased after Tyler Wells went on the injured list on Friday night, hasn’t been used but could be the 12th.

Outfielder Ryan McKenna and infielder Tyler Nevin are the only position players to make their major league debuts with the Orioles.

Two position players who were added to the 40-man last November, infielder Rylan Bannon and outfielder Yusniel Diaz, have had rough seasons for Norfolk.

In his last five games, Bannon who missed a month because of an oblique injury, is hitless in 18 at-bats. Overall, he’s hitting just .156 in 32 games.

Diaz, who missed time this season with a quadriceps injury and now is dealing with turf toe, hasn’t played since July 11th. He’s  hitting just .167 in 22 games.

The Orioles would like to give both an opportunity this season, but Bannon must play consistently in the next month and Diaz must get healthy and play decently.

Jahmai Jones, who’s still learning second base, is hitting .268 with an .832 OPS, but he has to be comfortable at second before the Orioles promote him.

Jones won’t be making his major league debut with the Orioles. He played three games with the Los Angeles Angels last year.

Another difference this year is that you won’t be seeing mass promotions in September. The roster limit will increase by just two, to 28, and Norfolk’s season will end the same time as the Orioles’, October 3rd.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Buzz1979

    July 27, 2021 at 7:58 am

    Ethelman has no future on this team.

  2. OhMy!

    July 27, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Pretty sure Zimmermann pitched 1 inning for FCL Orioles Black yesterday in a rehab appearance…

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 27, 2021 at 8:21 am

      Joe, I see he did in a game suspended by rain. Brandon Hyde has said he expects him back in mid-August, which would be two months after his last start.

  3. Orial

    July 27, 2021 at 8:27 am

    After reading and agreeing with your assessment I think we can come to one conclusion about the O’s present roster–what you see(now) is what you get. Maybe Smith,Bauman,Bradish,Lowther. Diaz,Brannon,Jones–maybe Jones. His “D” must really need some work I guess though. So let’s watch what we have develope or crumble. Not a bad process. 2022 re-arm,re-shuffle and start the process again(with a few brighter additions).

  4. Bhoffman1

    July 27, 2021 at 8:53 am

    Yusiel Diaz is as injury waiting to happen. What a disappointment

    • Baltimore Castaway

      July 27, 2021 at 10:55 am

      That, Bhoffman1 is the understatement of the Day.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 27, 2021 at 8:55 am

    And nary a mention of Rutschman.

    It’s a process.

    • CalsPals

      July 27, 2021 at 3:51 pm

      Are you really surprised?….go O’s…

  6. The Bird1

    July 27, 2021 at 8:59 am

    Rich,quick question, have you ever been told what the process is for the Orioles or any team for that matter of promoting players? Do position players need to hit a certain average and play well defensively and pitchers a certain era and so many innings to move to another level? Just curious.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 27, 2021 at 10:20 am

      Players are promoted because they’re performing well, or if there’s a need because of an injury or illness. No specific numbers.

  7. Orioles20

    July 27, 2021 at 9:07 am

    Kremer has pitched better his last couple outing. Had a bad against Memphis but other than that pitched good. Bradish and Smith have been bad at triple a. Baumann I think is just now getting fully healthy and back into the swing of things. I think Baumann should be up in September maybe Kremer if he continues to pitch halfway decent. He still is having pitch count issues. Akin can be cut. He’s the pitching version of Stewart. Been given every opportunity at the big league level and can’t do a damn thing.

  8. Tileman

    July 27, 2021 at 9:11 am

    The O’s have never been consistent about promotions especially when spring training breaks. They always say we’re bringing up the best Spring performers. Many times the best don’t go north with the team. I believe the “gut” process trumps all decisions in the O’s board room.

  9. Bman

    July 27, 2021 at 9:29 am

    I wonder if there will be any surprise trade candidates this week besides the potential relievers discussed. Stewart, Akin get traded but what would they fetch? Prob not too much at this point. I bet Elias still manages to trade Galvis as he rehabs which would be a coup. Fry, Scott, Valdez, Severino, Sulser, Franco, Matt Harvey, Plutko, Valaika could all be moved too. Could be interesting.

  10. Buzz1979

    July 27, 2021 at 10:10 am

    Valdez??? LOL!!!

  11. willmiranda

    July 27, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    I don’t see how any trades would make a difference. We would not be getting major league talent back, and losing what we trade away, even if the players are competent, won’t make the team much worse. The Plan seems to be using Norfolk for final seasoning of prospects, but they are in last place. Jones is batting only .268, but defense is his weakness. It’s not comforting that his .268 leads the team in batting. On a less lugubrious note, I’m amazed that the O’s will be playing all their remaining games in the Eastern Time Zone. Never even thought about that!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 27, 2021 at 2:07 pm

      AAA is not for seasoning prospects anymore. It’s for holding the bottom half of your 40 man roster and the rotation of your pitching staff.

  12. millboy

    July 27, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    Jones does not have a full seasons worth of games at 2nd base yet in the minors…that is why they are leaving him down there to play every day and learn

  13. jimpalmer65

    July 27, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    For me what I like to see the last 2 months. Pitching: I would like to see if the great story of Watkins continues, Does John Means (If not traded) regain his prowess again, what does Zimmermann look like when he comes off the DL. A. Wells, does he seize his chance and run with it. What relievers are traded & what return do they get. Can the Orioles find a future closer. I feel that K. Smith will be a reliever in the Majors and that could be Kremer’s destiny also. Infield: Is Urias the Orioles future SS? Or just a bridge until one of the prospects takes over? Does he remain at short when Galvis returns? Or does Galvis move to second? Mountcastle’s final stats. Outfield: Can Hays & Santander stay healthy. Does the great story of Mullins continue & what his final stats are. Mancini (If not traded) the same. Will he finish with 30+ HR & 90+ RBI. For me I am all in favor for the Orioles to trade Mancini, Means, Fry, Scott, Tate & Sulser for a high return & if not then don’t make the trade. O’s have the leverage on any trades. Elias has to hit it on everyone of these potential trades.

  14. calvinisthobbesian

    July 30, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    Can’t wait for Elias to trade/ demote/cut bad pitchers so he can obtain more pitchers who can’t pitch. I have said repeatedly that at present this is all about spending next to no money, not about improving the team. And for all the blather about the guys Elias has drafted and or traded for when dumping long time Oriole players, the fact remains this team has been terrible about developing pitching and position players both at the minor and major league levels. And I have seen nothing indicating that’s changing, so why the excitement for the future?

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