The rebuilding Orioles improved in 2020, ending fourth within the American League East after hanging across the outer frays of the playoff image for a lot of the shortened 60-game season. The ’21 season will likely be about constructing on these good points.
What must go proper?
To contend? Fairly a bit. However that’s not the bar the Orioles are setting simply but.
They’d be simply as joyful seeing enhancements from as many younger gamers as doable, each on the massive league degree and beneath. In Baltimore, they’re hoping Means and Santander take steps ahead, Mountcastle thrives and any questions on Mancini’s well being fade following his restoration from Stage 3 colon most cancers.
What is going to the pitching appear to be? The Orioles, like all golf equipment, can have tons of extra innings to cowl this yr after the shortened 2020 season. However what Baltimore has greater than most golf equipment is younger pitchers coming off career-low workloads whose well being will take precedence over the membership’s on-field objectives. The rebuilding O’s merely aren’t going to push their prospects past purpose in a yr they don’t count on to contend.
So how do the innings get coated? That’s the unknown. The O’s are brainstorming a variety of non-traditional pitching strategies, from six-man rotations to piggybacking to openers and extra. It’ll possible be a patchwork effort, with swingman sorts like Bruce Zimmermann, Thomas Eshelman and others taking part in key roles to supply innings in bulk. Nowadays on the mound, depth is all the time paramount. In 2021, it will likely be much more so.
“Depth goes to be important this yr,” supervisor Brandon Hyde mentioned. “Due to final yr and the shortage of innings thrown, I don’t assume any of us have any thought of what this yr goes to appear to be from the pitching aspect. That’s one thing we’ve talked about — creating as a lot depth within the rotation, as many lengthy guys as doable, as a result of I may see us utilizing quite a lot of pitchers.”
Workforce MVP will likely be …
The Orioles’ No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Mountcastle is an AL Rookie of the Yr Award candidate after hitting .333/.386/.492 with 5 homers in 35 video games down the stretch in 2020. He’s locked in because the starter in left area, and he might want to show the improved protection and plate self-discipline he confirmed in ’20 wasn’t a fluke. However even when the league adjusts to him a bit, Mountcastle’s bat nonetheless has impression potential, particularly within the pleasant hitting confines of Camden Yards. And whereas it’s not tough to see Santander and Mancini profiling as commerce bait come summer season, Mountcastle isn’t going wherever anytime quickly. He’s going to get each alternative to thrive, and he has as a lot offensive upside as anybody on the roster.
Workforce Cy Younger will likely be …
Means’ ascent from non-prospect to All-Star shocked the baseball world in 2019. Two years later, he’s the Orioles’ unquestioned ace and their Opening Day starter. Additional enchancment would not shock anybody, given how Means has grown right into a sturdy four-pitch starter with a mid-90s fastball (and elite spin), two distinct breaking balls and bettering command. If he can slice his house run fee (not a straightforward process at Camden Yards), Means may take the following step in ’21 into one of many AL’s higher starters.
A minimum of six high prospects will debut. Of the Orioles’ Top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline, upwards of a dozen are knocking on the door to the massive leagues. They in all probability received’t all debut in 2021. However at the least half of them simply may: Yusniel Díaz, Baumann, Lowther, Ryan McKenna, Jahmai Jones and Alexander Wells, with rookies Mountcastle, Kremer, Akin and Zimmermann anticipated to play massive roles as nicely. Although the very high prospects, like Rutschman, stay a bit of methods off, this wave may mark a turning level for a company that has been rebuilding for a number of years.