Orioles outfielder Ryan Mountcastle is working to pull the Orioles out of their recent slide.
Perhaps he is trying too hard.
As a result, manager Brandon Hyde moved Mountcastle from the cleanup spot in the lineup to sixth in the order before the Orioles’ game against the Seattle Mariners April 12 was rained out. The rookie is slashing .184/.225/.316 with two doubles and a home run. Mountcastle has struck out 17 times, which is tied for the most in the majors with Javier Baez (Cubs) and Nick Solak (Rangers).
“I’m just trying to take a little pressure off Ryan,” Hyde said. “He’s putting so much pressure on himself. I just wanted to kind of give Ryan a little bit of a breather. Talked about it with him. And just try to let him breathe through his at-bats a little bit. I just see him really pressing.”
The Orioles (4-5) were swept this past weekend by the Red Sox and opened a four-game series with Seattle, beginning with a doubleheader April 13. After some struggles in the outfield, Hyde also moved Mountcastle back to the designated hitter role April 10 and 11.
Mullins Stays Hot
Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins has been one of the biggest surprises in all of MLB to start the season.
He ranks fourth among all players with a .459 batting average and third with five doubles. He has been especially effective against left-handed pitching, going 6-for-11 (.545).
“I am so impressed with his left-on-left, how hard that is to do,” Hyde said. “Decide to go just hit left-handed in the offseason, work on it, have a spring training where you have some at-bats — not a ton, but we tried to get him as many at-bats as we could against left-handed pitching. But to stand in the way he is against these left-handed starters and bullpen guys [has been good].”
Mullins has managed a hit in every game this season, becoming the first Orioles player to open the season with a nine-game hitting streak since Manny Machado in 2016. Mullins has also been stout in center field.
“He’s played really well so far,” Hyde said. “I’m just so happy for him because I didn’t see him play in ’18, just highlights and stuff, but I didn’t see him play. And ’19, the start he got off to, I really just didn’t know what kind of player he was. He was really struggling and you could see the confidence was way down, and just to see the progression from there has been incredible.”
López Struggles At Back End Of Rotation
The Orioles were hoping to get solid production from Jorge López when they claimed him off waivers late last season,
So far, López is struggling to hold onto a starting role.
The right-hander has taken the loss in each of his two starts this season and has an 11.42 ERA. López has struck out nine batters with four walks and a 1.73 WHIP. Lopez started effectively April 11 against Boston before surrendering back-to-back home runs to Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez in the third inning that began the landslide in the 14-9 loss.
“I gotta be better,” López said. “Just give the team a chance to keep improving.”
López is scheduled to make another start against the Rangers April 16. If he falters, the Orioles will be looking for someone else to take over his role in the rotation. Keegan Akin is expected to eventually make his way back to the big-league club after tightening up his mechanics at the alternate site at Bowie.
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