Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The 'O'utcome You Hope For


The Baltimore Orioles' youth movement rollout has reached mode 'all systems go'. With the exception of Kyle Stowers and Heston Kjerstad, pretty much every prospect that made somebody go 'WOW' over the past few years is up in the majors and performing well. And this happening at the exact moment the team can actually spend money on free agents and extensions makes this perhaps the single best time to be a Baltimore Orioles fan in, like 10 years.

This week alone, you've seen Jordan Westburg and Colton Cowser jump to the front of the narrative, after everyone sort of assumed they'd be lower-tier forces this year. Westburg is a really handy guy to have around, he's flexible in terms of where you put him in the infield, and he can hit for average. Right now he's hitting .302 with 12 RBIs and 2 homers, as well as 2 steals. Cowser had the bigger exclamation point, having that incredible 2-homer game against the Red Sox. Overall he's cooked up 13 RBIs and 15 hits in 38 at-bats, which is pretty damn cool for a guy everybody assumed would be the extra OF guy. The way Austin Hays has been hitting so far, Cowser might have just finagled his way to an everyday job, which is pretty cool.

It's been helpful that these two have taken charge of the narrative recently because the rookie that everyone thought WOULD be leading the charge, Jackson Holliday, is taking a slower route to stardom. Now, granted, Gunnar Henderson was also quieter in his first month or so in the bigs last year, then he took off and became a hero, so it's not immediately indicative of anything. But after Holliday essentially torched the minors after not making the O's out of camp, everyone thought that he was overqualified for the majors, and now...he's hitting .053 with only one hit, and as many strikeouts as Ryan Mountcastle's had in triple the at-bats. All things take time, yes, and Holliday will probably be ready soon enough, but if they didn't have an entire team of people actually playing well [Rutschman, Henderson, Mountcastle, Mullins, Ryan O'Hearn still], it'd stand out a lot more. 

The one thing that's kept the Orioles from being stellar is the injuries to the pitching staff, which has become evident. The rotation is fine, but after Burnes and Rodriguez there isn't as much depth, and Cole Irvin has lost whatever he had with Oakland. If Kyle Bradish and John Means were around this might be a different story, and getting Bradish back in the next couple weeks will certainly help, but the back half of the rotation might be trouble if Kremer and Wells don't pick things up. Not having Felix Bautista and Cionel Perez hasn't hit the bullpen quite as hard, as Cano, Akin, Tate, Coulombe and surprisingly Craig Kimbrel are all playing really well. Kimbrel actually working in Baltimore is a pleasant twist, as it maybe just...confirms how snakebitten the Philly pitching coaches are.

The O's are doing a lot right, and the development is helping. I sincerely hope they stay at it, and that Holliday improves over time.

Coming Tomorrow- Every time you think he's done being relevant he just keeps smacking home runs.

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