O’, happy Monday! Our favorite day of the week is back, and so is Monday Thoughts on The Baltimore Battery. The Orioles have their first of two off days this spring, creating a perfect time for some O’s talk!
We are about a quarter of the way through spring training, and the first week has left me plenty to say. We are all busy people, so let’s not waste any daylight and hop right into it!
1. The starting rotation feels the Baltimore cold, while in sunny Florida.
Spring training is a great time for players to shake off their rust from the offseason. No player is expected to come out in spring and be electric as they could be in July (except for Joey Gallo 😳). However, the slow start by the Orioles rotation has left some room for concern. So far, the Orioles have sent a few of their starters to the mound either to start or in relief, and it hasn’t gone over too well.
First, John Means has gotten hit pretty hard so far in his first 3.2 innings. Some of that is a lack of luck, as a .421 average on balls in play is a little inflated from poor defensive. However, not recording a strikeout yet in almost four innings is a little concerning. As the spring goes on, control will be something Means will be sure to take care of.
Félix “The King” Hernández made his spring debut in an Orioles uniform and fared decently well for someone who hasn’t touched the mound in a year. In two innings, Hernández allowed two runs on one hit to the Tigers. Félix was able to notch two strikeouts, while also walking two batters. His fastball was hovering around the high 80’s.
Dean Kremer is another who struggled with command in his first start, when he allowed three runs on as many hits and walked two batters, himself. Kremer is slated to start Tuesday’s game against the Twins.
Matt Harvey also made his debut with the Orioles, allowing three runs on four hits in his two-inning outing. He tallied no strikeouts or walks; however, he did hit one batter.
Believe it or not, Wade LeBlanc is the only starter so far to come away with a win. In his one start, LeBlanc threw two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two. Throughout the rest of the spring, it will be interesting to see the battle between LeBlanc, Harvey, and Hernández for that final rotation spot.
The one bright spot from the starting rotation so far has been Jorge López. In two appearances, López has allowed just two runs over five innings, while striking out three batters. Going into 2021, Jorge will be a very under the radar guy for the Orioles and is someone you should not forget about.
2. Cedric Mullins and Yusniel Díaz are wasting no time this spring.
The outfield for the O’s, as we all know, is very deep. This spring has been great to see a lot of different players moving around the grass already. Two of them have really stood out to me, and they are Cedric Mullins and Yusniel Díaz.
Cedric Mullins is really looking to have a breakout year in 2021, and so far in spring, he has shown that is possible. We know about the blazing speed he has and about his above average glove in center and/or left field. However, his approach at the plate has changed for the better.
The former switch hitter has decided to stick to the left side, his strong side. So far in five games, Mullins is 6-for-15 with a double, a triple, and three RBI. If that sneaky power and plate discipline can stay consistent going into the regular season, Mullins could be a serious threat when you add that to his immaculate bunting and speed on the base paths.
Having Mullins on base to do what he does best will help greatly. He just has to maintain the consistency at the plate to get those chances on base. So far, so good.
Next I want to touch on Yusniel Díaz. I think I speak for every Orioles fan when I say it’s about time we see what this kid can do. Injuries and a pandemic-shortened season killed his chances to debut in 2020, but 2021 is looking very promising so far.
First, Díaz has seemed to really fill out his body. He looks much stronger than he did a couple years ago when he was sent over in the Machado trade. Yusniel opened up spring with a mammoth home run in the first game against the Pirates, showing off that power we have been waiting to see.
Also, Yusniel has recorded a hit in the last three games, netting two RBI and only striking out once. For discipline being an issue with him in the minors, it is nice to see that so far he has been very good with his batter’s eye.
3. Was Tanner Scott a fluke? Absolutely not.
Without a doubt, Tanner Scott was a diamond in the rough in 2020. He led the bullpen by a mile with a 1.31 ERA, while not allowing his first of only three runs on the season until his ninth appearance. So far in 2021, Scott has looked exactly like his 2020 form.
In two appearances, Scott has allowed no runs on one hit and three strikeouts. When you look deep into his arsenal, there is so much to be excited for, and we saw that last season and so far in spring.
His fastball, which averages around 97 mph, has some incredible spin, making it hard to make solid contact. That also helps him a lot, as he likes to “climb the ladder” with that fastball, and that spin rate helps that four-seamer rise up on opposing hitters who are worried about the drop on his slider.
Also, his slider has looked great so far, which is the pitch that got him 18 of his 23 strikeouts last season. Also, hitters held a .078 average against his slider. That’s pretty impressive, and in my opinion, Tanner Scott will be in the discussion for one of the best A.L. relievers by the time 2021 is over.
How are you feeling about the O’s so far this spring? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on the web, Facebook, and Twitter for all your spring updates!