2023 has been a very exciting season for O's fans. The Orioles are 25 games above .500 and have the best record in the American League. The high's of the team have certainly outweighed the lows, but one player in particular keeps fans on an emotional roller coaster.
Ryan Mountcastle has been a fixture in the Orioles offense for four years now. After getting off to a solid start this season, including an epic nine RBI game, Mountcastle faltered a bit and ended up on the IL in June. He spent nearly a month dealing with and rehabbing from Vertigo symptoms.
During that time, a new Ryan seemed to take hold of the first base position, Ryan O'Hearn. With O'Hearn having a rebound season and Mountcastle struggling, it looked like Mountcastle's time in Baltimore might be running short. But Mounty bounced back.
Ryan Mountcastle has looked like a revitalized hitter since returning from the IL
Since returning from the IL on July 9, Mountcastle has had a hit in 13 of the 14 games he has started and is 1-4 as a pinch hitter. In his 18 games since returning from the IL, Mountcastle is batting .460 with seven doubles, two home runs, 10 RBI's and a stolen base. He currently is on a six game hitting streak and has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games.
Mounty just put on a show in a four game series in Toronto going 11-13 with five runs, four doubles, six RBI's and a stolen base in that series alone. Mountcastle is currently the hottest hitter in the game with eight hits in his last eight at-bats, a fact that should be getting a lot more attention.
Mountcastle had previously been in danger of losing his spot on the team. With the emergence of O'Hearn and both Anthony Santander and Ramon Urias getting regular playing time at first base against left handed pitchers, it felt like only a matter of time before Mountcastle would be out of Baltimore. Mountcastle has now firmly re-established himself as a mainstay in the heart of the Orioles lineup.
He and O'Hearn have combined to make arguably the best first base duo in all of baseball. Together, they've become much more than just a lefty / righty platoon because they've both played well enough to force themselves into everyday roles.
Orioles fans have been lucky enough to be spoiled with success this season. It's been so long since the Orioles were this good, that we as fans are sometimes paranoid that anything that goes wrong will be the teams undoing. Mountcastle's season numbers are now in line with his career numbers and I think that has reminded many of us that even good players have setbacks, and sometimes we need to have more patience. While he may not be able to maintain the blistering pace that he's currently on, Mountcastle remains a feared bat in one of baseball's best lineups and I hope he stays there for a long time.
The Orioles will begin a three game series tonight against a New York Mets team that just traded away it's two biggest pitchers, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Mountcastle will look to stay hot in a favorable matchup against left hander David Peterson, who has struggled this season to a 3-7 record with a 5.92 ERA, on Friday night. The Mets have yet to announce who will pitch Saturday, but the Orioles will see left hander Jose Quintana, who has only made two appearances this season after beginning the year on the IL, on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully Mounty can give the home fans the same kind of show he put on in Toronto.