Baltimore Orioles: Five Storylines To Follow In The Second Half
Here are five storylines for the Baltimore Orioles to keep your interest as the 2019 season sprints to the finish line.
As we enter the heart of summer and family vacations and countless other enjoyable summer activities fill the calendar, it’s likely to become much harder to sit for three hours on a perfect summer evening and watch the Baltimore Orioles lose yet another baseball game. Despite stretches of unwatchable baseball and the league’s worst record, there are storylines to keep your attention through September as the second half of the 2019 season kicks off tonight in Birdland.
The Orioles open up with a weekend series against the Tampa Bays, putting their 27-62 record against a Tampa Bay team who currently holds the top Wild Card spot in the American League, thanks to their 52-39 first-half performance. Offensively, the Orioles rank 26th in baseball with a .240 team batting average and .303 on-base percentage, which looks good compared to their league-worst 5.59 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and 170 home runs allowed put up by the pitching staff.
To pass the time during a recent lunch break at work, I went into my office living room, made myself at home on a couch and turned on a John Means start from last week (I actually do real work at work, sometimes). A coworker came in and asked me a simple, yet difficult question to answer- “How can you sit here and watch these guys?”
No matter how bad things get, I’ll still watch the Baltimore Orioles and if you’re reading this, I have a hunch that you feel the same way. But when you turn the TV to MASN at 7 pm every night (most nights), what exactly are you hoping to see? Who are you cheering for? What keeps you coming back every night? Here’s the list I came up with of five storylines I’m anxious to follow as we head to the finish line of the 2019 season.
1) Is John Means a legitimate piece of the rotation for the Baltimore Orioles?
John Means is an unbelievable story that continues to grow. Just last season, Means was an average minor league pitcher, having a decent 2018 in Double-A and Triple-A with an outside shot of getting his chance in the big leagues as a relief pitcher for the Orioles. Fast forward to today and Means is a major league All-Star and not just the top pitcher in Baltimore’s rotation, but one of the top pitchers in all of baseball with his 7-4 record, 2.50 ERA, and 1.08 WHIP.
Maybe this is just me, but there continues to be a small thought in the back of my mind that questions Means’ legitimacy as a reliable starting pitcher (a product of being an O’s fan). Will teams begin to figure him out? Can he really sustain this success? Now halfway through his rookie season, he’s passing all of the tests and continues to put up bigger and bigger numbers.
Means saw his ERA, batting average against, FIP, and home run rate all drop each month this season, culminating in a spectacular month of June- 2-0, 1.71 ERA (3.15 FIP), .221 opponents’ average, 19 strikeouts, and one home run allowed in 21 innings.
If John Means is in the National League, there’s no way he’s even in the conversation for Rookie of the Year honors, with Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr.doing superhuman things on the baseball diamond, but he’s in the American League where only Brandon Lowe (Tampa Bay Rays) and Daniel Vogelbach (Seattle Mariners) sit ahead of Means in fWAR.
Being one of the very few pieces on the current roster who is likely to be around in two years, don’t miss a single John Means start from here on out.