The Orioles are 28-58 at the midpoint of the season as they continue their aggressive rebuilding project.
There have been some highs and lows during the first half of the season. Manager Brandon Hyde continues to evaluate several players, especially pitchers.
Here are the grades for the first half of the season.
John Means (4-2, 2.28 ERA) was having an All-Star-caliber season before he got hurt. He suffered a shoulder strain on June 5 against the Cleveland Indians. Means is expected to return to the rotation following the All-Star break and is a pitcher the Orioles can build around.
The rest of the rotation has struggled to go deep into games. Matt Harvey (3-10, 7.70 ERA) started strong but has lost his last eight decisions. There are questions about whether he will continue in the rotation. Jorge Lopez (2-11, 6.02 ERA) has lost five straight games but hasn’t gotten much run support. Bruce Zimmermann (4-4, 4.83 ERA) showed promise after getting a rest, but he is currently down with biceps tendinitis. Dean Kremer (0-7, 7.25 ERA) has also struggled.
Hyde will continue to give pitchers such as Thomas Eshelman, Keegan Akin, Spenser Watkins and Zac Lowther an opportunity to prove themselves as starters. The starting rotation will continue to undergo an evaluation process. The club has used 12 starters so far this year.
The Orioles parted ways with Chance Sisco, who never found his footing in Baltimore. Pedro Severino has struggled with passed balls and is batting .229/.310/.333 with four homers and 17 RBIs. He could be non-tendered after the season. The Orioles promoted Austin Wynns and he has provided some stability. The Orioles, though, have some solid prospects at catcher, including 2019 top overall pick Adley Rutschman, so the fortunes are bound to change.
Shortstop Freddy Galvis was enjoying a solid year, but his recent right quadriceps strain opened the door for a young player to take over an everyday role with the major-league club. The Orioles recalled infielders Ramón Urías and Domingo Leyba for depth after Galvis’ injury. Third baseman Maikel Franco recently hit the injured list with a sprained ankle as well.
Fans are clamoring for the team to promote Jahmai Jones, who was acquired by the Orioles from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Alex Cobb. Jones was hampered by an oblique earlier this season and is a candidate to earn a promotion to the Orioles at some point this year. Ryan Mountcastle is showing the potential to be a mainstay at first base. Trey Mancini is also having a stellar year.
Center fielder Cedric Mullins will make his first appearance in the All-Star Game after a dominant performance in the first half of the season. Mullins is batting .316/.384/.549 with 16 home runs and 34 RBIs. He ranks fifth in MLB in hits (103). Austin Hays and Anthony Santander have battled injuries but have been mostly solid when they are in the lineup. DJ Stewart has shown some power when he is in the lineup.
Mancini is back in the lineup after missing all of last season because of colon cancer surgery and treatment. He is batting .255/.332/.452 with 15 home runs and a team-leading 53 RBIs. Mancini could have made the All-Star Game, but the American League’s first basemen and designated hitters will be Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Matt Olson, Jared Walsh, Shohei Ohtani, Nelson Cruz and J.D. Martinez. He will, however, participate in the Home Run Derby. Mountcastle also sees time at DH. He is batting .257/.301/.453 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs.
The relievers were solid at the beginning of the season but struggled as the starting rotation put them under more pressure to eat innings. Paul Fry (3.66 ERA, two saves) could be moved at the trade deadline.
Cesar Valdez (6.18 ERA) struggled in the closer role and has four blown saves. Hyde has used numerous players out of the bullpen and has dealt with various injuries, most recently with Travis Lakins Sr. Some of these relievers, such as Tyler Wells, Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells, will likely get an opportunity to flash as starters in the future.
Overall, the bullpen — most notably with Tanner Scott, Cole Sulser, Fry and Wells — has performed admirably under the circumstances.
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