Unlikely Orioles coming in the clutch early in 2024 after latest walk-off win

It always helps when you get contributions from unlikely sources.
Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles
Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

Coming into the 2024 season, many marveled at how quickly the Baltimore Orioles' young core had become one of the best teams in the league. No longer a surprise team, the Orioles now have targets on their backs as opposing teams are heavily game-planning to deal with Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, and Corbin Burnes.

Still, despite all of the attention, the Orioles remained among the favorites coming into the season, and no one is shocked that they currently sit with very respectable 4-2 record. However, what may surprise the casual observer is that two of those wins have come courtesy of walk-off hits -- and they didn't come from the players you would assume were responsible.

Westburg and McCann showing Orioles' mettle early in 2024

Everyone knows that the Orioles are loaded with talent, and there will be certain games throughout the year that they were due to win no matter what. However, close games felt like more of a concern entering 2024 because with Baltimore's bullpen in a tenuous spot, the Orioles were more likely to get in some late-inning shootouts these days. In those close, back-and-forth games, guys' mental fortitude is tested, and it does matter that a guy can be in a position to save the day with many thousands watching him and rise to the occasion. The less Craig Kimbrel, the better.

Even better than winning in general, the Orioles got bailed out by the supporting characters on their roster this week, which bodes well going forward this year. Westburg is a highly thought of rookie, but he doesn't really have the upside of guys like Henderson or Colton Cowser and has not had nearly the same number of eyeballs on him this spring. McCann has been a fine catcher and his walk-off was a fun moment, but he hasn't posted an OPS better than .646 in three years and is in the twilight of his career. If those two guys are beating ya, things could get ugly when the rest of lineup gets rolling.

We shouldn't be surprised that this Baltimore team isn't afraid of the big moments. This Orioles group is used to defying expectations and just weathered a brutal division race last year. That said, the big names can't afford to fall off, even with the supporting cast helping out nowadays.

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