Entering play on July 30, the Baltimore Orioles reside in first place in the AL East as trade deadline season is here. This team is very firmly in the race for the division and the top seed in the AL playoff picture, with lots going there way.
Not everything is perfect, as with every month in the baseball year. Just like May, June, and July, there are three members of the Orioles who need to pick up the slack in the month of August to keep the Orioles machine running smoothly.
Stats are prior to beginning of play on July 30
Three Baltimore Orioles players who need to perform better in July
Cole Irvin, SP/RP
One of the Orioles headline offseason additions, Irvin hasn't clicked since landing in Baltimore. He had a 10.66 ERA in April that saw him get demoted, a 4.05 ERA in June, and a 4.08 ERA so far in July. On the season, he has a 5.93 ERA, 4.65 FIP, and 1.591 WHIP over eight starts and five relief outings.
In July, Irvin has made two starts and three relief appearances, allowing one run in five and 6 1/3 innings respectively in both of those starts. Lately, he's shifted back to the bullpen as a long reliever, with the results being a mixed bag. If Irvin wants to keep his roster spot as the Orioles look for pitching help, he'll have to step things up no matter his role.
Jorge Mateo, SS
The fall of Mateo following a red hot first month of the season has been well documented, losing the starting shortstop job. Through nine starts and 16 total games in July, Mateo has a .156/.206/.281 slash line, with four RBIs and two stolen bases in 32 at bats and 35 plate appearances.
Thanks to three poor months, Mateo now has a .211/.259/.341 slash line in his fourth major league season. His 23 stolen bases are nice, but six home runs, 31 RBIs, and 16 walks need to be higher to justify keeping Mateo around. The defense also should be better too.
Mateo needs to make the most of his opportunities, both at the plate, on defense, and on the bases as well. If he can't, well, the Orioles have top prospects Joey Ortiz, Connor Norby, and Coby Mayo all waiting in the wings at Triple A Norfolk.
Cionel Pérez, RP
I hate to keep saying the same things about Pérez that I've said every month I've done this, but he's not doing anything that allows me to change my tune. He's allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings in July, and that's with picking up a save this month.
The numbers still don't look good either. He has a 4.54 ERA, 4.52 FIP, and 1.738 WHIP to go with a ghastly 5.3 walks per nine in 35 2/3 innings and 39 appearances. The advanced metrics don't look good, with Pérez sitting in the 23rd percentile in average exit velocity, third percentile in whiff percentage, and 25th percentile in hard hit percentage, among other poor rankings.
Nick Vespi, Drew Rom, Bruce Zimmermann, DL Hall building back up in Sarasota. Those are all lefty pitchers with relief experience that the Orioles can call up to replace Pérez on the big league roster, perhaps permanently, if he can't get his act together.