This is the first season preview I’ve written for the Baltimore Orioles in late July. But that’s about par for the course in 2020. Opening Day high temperature records are being obliterated this year. And we all know the reason why. But such is the situation in which we find ourselves in 2020.
In March I was planning on predicting that the Birds would take a few steps forward this season. And by that I mean in the win/loss column. The 2019 O’s won 54 games – which was an improvement over 2018. Who knows what the prediction would have been had this year gone off properly. Needless to say however, I can confidently tell you that the 2020 Birds won’t even approach 100 losses. In fact, this will probably be the lowest loss total in franchise history.
It begins and ends with pitching, and that’s a work in progress. Even still however, Oriole pitching was having a decent spring before things shut down. A better spring than I would have expected. So could they be slightly better than advertised? Perhaps. But they’ll suffer a bit at first, with staff ace John Means missing the Opening Day start tonight due to soreness.
More realistically in a sixty-game sprint, the bigger question might be how the middle relief stacks up. How do the Cody Carroll‘s and Richard Bleier‘s of the world faire in games? We’ve already started to see the concept of an “opener” in MLB the past few years. Might we start seeing more out of middle relievers? In a sixty-game season, that might be necessary.
Hitting of course is a big deal also. The O’s will be without Trey Mancini this year of course due to his cancer treatments. Chris Davis had an exceptional exhibition season, and the hope is that he can continue that starting tonight and into the regular season. If the Orioles are going to keep up in games they’re going to need runs and base runners. That also means that the Hanser Alberto‘s, Rio Ruiz‘s, and Anthony Santander‘s of the world will need to have big games as well. Get on base; the runs will come.
This was already going to be another rebuilding year for the O’s. But will it be? We’ve certainly never seen a sixty-game sprint as a season. Could it play to the Birds’ favor? That’s a tough question to answer. So what’s my prediction for 2020? Again, tough question to answer. While most people assume the O’s will finish in the cellar, I don’t think they will. So that’s my prediction – while I don’t think they’ll contend, I do think they’ll stay out of last place.
Opening Day of course is today, and the Birds find themselves in at Fenway Park for the first of a three-game set. Tommy Milone gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 7:30 PM.