3 Orioles players who need to play better in July

Some players on the Orioles are slacking, and need to pick things up in July

Jun 8, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle (6) reacts after striking out against the Milwaukee Brewers
Jun 8, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle (6) reacts after striking out against the Milwaukee Brewers / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Entering play on June 30, the Orioles are in second place in the AL East with a 48-31 record, sitting firmly in the first wild card spot if the season ended today. Many players are playing well with the team doing so good.

Not everything is going perfectly however. As was the case with the months of May and June, there are some members of the Orioles who are going to need to pick up some slack in July and play better, whether that's to keep their roster spot or to keep the Orioles afloat.

Stats are prior to beginning of play on June 30

Three Baltimore Orioles players who need to perform better in July

Cionel Perez
Baltimore Orioles v Chicago Cubs: Orioles pitcher Cionel Perez throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages

Cionel Pérez, RP

I've been a broken record on Pérez in each of the last two editions of this post I've done. He just has not been the same guy we saw in 2022. Pérez has regressed to a mop-up caliber reliever, already having given up more earned runs before June than he did in all of 2022.

His ERA did drop from 4.87 entering June to 4.76 entering July, but his FIP is still high at 4.69, and his WHIP is at a really ugly 1.871 mark. He averages 11.8 hits per nine and 5.1 walks per nine. Ouch. He isn't racking up strikeouts either, with an average of only 6.4 strikeouts per nine.

At this point of the season, you really have to wonder how long the leash with Pérez is. He's done nothing to prove that he should stick around, and with Nick Vespi and Drew Rom sitting around in Triple A, plus DL Hall having relief experience from last season, Pérez's roster spot could be in trouble.

Keegan Akin, Bryan Baker
Baltimore Orioles v San Francisco Giants: Orioles relief pitcher Keegan Akin hands the ball to Brandon Hyde after being pulled from a game / Brandon Vallance/GettyImages

Keegan Akin, RP

Another lefty reliever who's not handling things right now is Akin. His ERA has blown up to 6.85, with a high WHIP of 1.775, averaging 13.3 hits per nine and 2.7 walks per nine. He couldn't finish one inning in the finale against the Reds, being charged with four runs and getting two outs.

Akin has only thrown 23 2/3 innings and there is a caveat that his FIP is extremely opposite to his ERA, with a 6.85 ERA to a shockingly low 2.98 FIP. That stat alone suggests that brighter days could be on the horizon for Akin.

Those brighter days will have to wait. On Friday, Akin was placed on the 15 Day IL with lower back discomfort, retroactive to June 29. Nick Vespi was called up from Norfolk to take his place, and if Akin doesn't turn things around when he comes back, he could be out of a major league job.

Ryan Mountcastle
Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

Ryan Mountcastle, 1B

Prior to landing on the 10 Day IL with Vertigo, Mountcastle was scuffling big time at the plate. In 60 games in his fourth major league season, Mountcastle has a .227/.264/.421 slash line, with perhaps his .264 OBP causing the most alarm.

He does have 11 home runs and 12 doubles, so its not like his power has fallen off, but the 64 strikeouts and below league average 89 OPS+ are causes for concern for Mountcastle. His rehab numbers in Norfolk haven't been great either, but those come with a grain of salt as teams are more worried about how the player feels on rehab rather than the performance on the field.

Since Mountcastle went down, the Orioles have used Ryan O'Hearn, Ramón Urías, Josh Lester, and Anthony Santander at first base. O'Hearn and Santander have been hitting well lately, while Urías continues to become the super utility player of the infield.

So, if Mountcastle continues to stumble when he returns to the active roster, the Orioles do have options to use at first. O'Hearn in particular has been hitting like gangbusters and has been forcing his way into the lineup. If Mountcastle can't turn it around, he'll be losing playing time to guys like O'Hearn and Santander.