O’s are at .500: Where to go from here

The Baltimore Orioles are in the midst of a nine-game winning streak, their longest since 1999 when they won 13 straight.

Amongst the mountain that has been climbed, reaching the .500 mark this point in the season was not something many envisioned or even predicted. The Orioles like to prove people wrong and change the expectations this season.

The climb the Orioles have made has seen rookie phenom Adley Rutschman take center stage. Since his call-up May 21, the Orioles have gone 29-20.

The Rutschman effect is one of many that is in a line of moves to improve the play of the club, but it also provide long-term success on a consistent basis.

The Orioles have been getting dominating pitching performances from Tyler Wells, who has won eight of nine starts since Rutschman has arrived. The converted reliever has become the anchor of a staff that is missing John Means and will likely not see Grayson Rodriguez this season.

The bullpen has moved to the fifth best in baseball with the slew of waiver pick-ups and new All-Star closer, Jorge López. Because of their dominance, the Orioles now have nine come-from-behind victories, which is second only to the New York Yankees.

The offense is clicking in all the right places, and the return of Ramón Urías has been crucial during the nine-game winning streak, having accumulated eight RBIs during that span.

What the Orioles have accomplished is a lot more than pundits expected and has brought Charm City the most excitement it has seen since the Adam Jones era.

The question now is: Where do the Orioles go from here?

The trade deadline is less than five weeks away, and many expected the Orioles to be sellers with names like Anthony Santander, Trey Mancini and Jordan Lyles being on block.

It was supposed to be easy. Flip quality veterans for top prospects that are close to or ready for big league action.

O’s GM Mike Elias has to see what he’s helped build is succeeding ahead of expectations. Then again, the Houston Astros arrived earlier than anticipated and haven’t stopped since.

Will Elias make a move that would take away veterans contributing to the recent success that has rightly been earned? If so, how would he approach this?

Elias has said that any moves made are for the betterment of the team. They will be to improve the success of the team not only for now but for tomorrow as well.

Mancini has been one of the best players this year for the Birds, ranking in the top-3 in sweet spot percentage (44.7%). He makes contact and gets the most of his opportunities, and the ability to play first base and some outfield makes Mancini a top trade candidate.

Lyles, who is on pace for 180 innings pitched this season, has become the veteran leader of a staff that has become one of the best in baseball. Lyles, who has won two of his last three starts, has a streak of five games pitching six plus innings.

Arguably the top two veterans on the team, they would entice a strong haul from top contenders if the price is right. Would Elias pull the string, and would it be worth it?

Players like Jorge López, Ramón Urías, Rougned Odor and Dillion Tate could also entice some teams looking to make a stretch run. The problem is, these are players currently contributing in major roles amongst the team and the success the Orioles are having.

Also, there is a real outside chance the Orioles fight for a Wild Card spot this season. Making any moves could break the comradery and chemistry that has been built amongst this team.

The minor league system has prospects such as Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg and D.L. Hall waiting to make their pro debuts, which should come this year. This, of course, would need to be considered with a roster spot opening on the team.

As fans, we don’t want to see hometown favorites sent packing, but we also want to see our top talent contributing to the growth and success of the team. This puts us in a catch-22.

The best thing that could happen for the Orioles is we move pieces that are not going to be a part of the future. We in return get talent to help us not only today but for tomorrow.

Lyles, Mancini and Odor could realistically end the year with the Orioles. Lyles has a club option and Mancini a mutual option to return next year, where Odor would be a free agent at the end of the season. Santander has two more years of club control and Urías has at least three more years of control.

The decision here will be who benefits by staying, and who helps us more by being moved. As we continue forward, the shape of the club will change, whether we agree with it or not.

The question of where do we go from here is easily answered. We stay the course and continue the plan as designed.

Let the success be determined by the product on the field and the opportunity for the pieces designed to allow long-term success.

Mike Elais knew this day was coming, and as fans, this is what we have been waiting for, Orioles Magic once again.

What would you do if you were in Mike Elias’ shoes? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter! And make sure to use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!

Like Stephen’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @SrHeckman

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