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Orioles Magic: Season Preview Part I

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The Orioles are coming off a successful 2016 campaign which included an 89-73 record and a berth in the AL Wild Card Playoff, although they eventually lost to Toronto in extra innings. The team posted a MLB high homerun count of 253, with the league leader in homeruns Mark Trumbo leading the way. Last season’s main problem was the pitching staff which had a team era of 4.22, one of the worst in the American League on the year.

This year, that same narrative will dominate the start the season. However, a few new additions in the offseason, mostly on offense, could push this underrated O’s team over the edge. A high-octane offense could counteracting what could be a poor starting rotation.

Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman, and Dylan Bundy, as well as a second-half resurgence from Ubaldo Jimenez, allowed the O’s to make a push for a wild-card berth. With a much-improved AL East, this season the Orioles need much improved pitching to try to make a playoff push. Chris Tillman, who is arguably the most consistent pitcher, is on the DL to start the season. This means that Kevin Gausman will undoubtedly be their No. 1 pitcher until Chris Tillman can return to full health. One of a the main concerns for the Orioles coming into this season has to be the pitching staff. Hopefully, they are able to string together some semblance of a starting rotation throughout the year in order for them to remain in contention.

Despite the poor starting rotation, the main strength of the Orioles’ pitching is the bullpen. Led this year by coach Alan Mills, they will mainly operate around the three-headed monster of Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, and reigning AL Closer of the Year Zach Britton. They should also get solid innings from Mychal Givens, who broke out last year.

Hopefully this year the starting pitching will not be as bad because almost as soon as the Orioles’ crushing playoff defeat, there was a bit of a coaching shakeup. Then-pitching coach Dave Wallace retired and took a special advisory position with the Atlanta Braves, and former bullpen coach Don Chiti left too for the Braves, but this time as their new pitching coach. Buck replaced them with two veteran hires, with Roger McDowell and Alan Mills as the new pitching and bullpen coach, respectively.

Roger McDowell was previously the Atlanta Braves pitching coach for 10 years, coaching both veterans and younger prospects throughout his time in Atlanta. Alan Mills, during his playing career, had two separate stints with the Orioles, retiring in 2001 after an 11-year playing career. After retirement, Mills was a pitching coach for multiple minor league affiliates with the Orioles, most recently with the AA Bowie Baysox, before being named the bullpen coach. Hopefully, with these new coaching styles, the starting pitching will improve and the bullpen will keep on chugging along as one of the premier bullpens in the American League.

Despite having a terrible rotation almost every year, the O’s remain in contention for a playoff berth year after year behind an explosive offense and an elite bullpen. That, coupled with the brilliant managing of Buck Showalter, should be enough to push this team over the edge yet again. We predict a record of 90-72 and a wild card berth here at Camden Yards. Unfortunately, however, we also predict that Baltimore will go without a World Series berth, yet again, as we will most likely lose five games in the ALCS.

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Orioles Magic: Season Preview Part I