(Kevin Richardson - Baltimore Sun)
2016 Record: 89-73, tied for 2nd in the AL East
Key Additions: LHP Vidal Nuno, RHP Logan Verrett, C Wellington Castillo, OF/DH Seth Smith
Key Subtractions: SP Yovani Gallardo, C Matt Wieters, RHP Vance Worley, 1B Steve Pearce, 3B/1B Pedro Alvarez*
X-Factor: Chris Tillman and Dylan Bundy
The Baltimore Orioles and their fans are optimistic heading into the 2017 season, and they should be. They're coming off a season in which they made the playoffs, albeit they lost in the Wild Card Game, but they also won 89 games and threatened the Red Sox for the division title for most of the season. They also have one of the most feared hitters in the game in Mark Trumbo, who's coming off a career-high 47 home runs last season, and one of the best 8-9 inning men in the league, in Brad Brach and Zach Britton.
However, I still question whether or not they're good enough to win on a consistent basis in 2017. They still do not have a bona fide ace, so they're going to be relying on Chris Tillman and Dylan Bundy to anchor that mediocre rotation. We all know they are going to score runs at a high rate, as they have some of the biggest power threats in Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and Manny Machado. But is that enough to make the rotation a non-issue?
I don't know. It worked last year. But great teams can start and end games with pitching, and we saw in the Wild Card game just how bad you need to have pitching. Granted, Ubaldo Jimenez shouldn't have been in the game over Zach Britton. But had push come to shove, Jimenez is likely in the game after Britton.
Record Prediction: 84-78
Believe it or not, I think the AL East is really deep and going to be very competitive in 2017. So this 84-78 record, while looking good on paper, might only be good enough for 4th place in the East, much like last season when the Yankees went 84-78. I expect the Orioles to struggle at times, specifically in games where the offense goes anemic, due to the fact that their pitching is relatively weak. But this is a team that is going to be exciting to watch when their offense is clicking, because they can hit some MOONSHOTS, and we saw that last year.