The All-Star break is a good time to look back on the first half of the season, and then make predictions about the second half. Then again, baseball is a game in which you can’t predict a thing, so all those predictions will soon be rendered meaningless. But, in the same breath, there are a few things that have to happen in the second half of the season if the Orioles want to be playing in the second season.
Solidify the starting rotation. As the team goes down the final stretch of the 2013 regular season, it helps to have five starters who you know can give you a chance to win. Right now, it seems as if the Orioles have four, with Jason Hammel being the odd-man out. Within two weeks after the All-Star break, the trade deadline will have passed. With Hammel’s ineffectiveness, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Orioles go out and add another starter to add some flexibility in the rotation. But whether it be Hammel or a Bud Norris type, the Orioles will need to find five to go with until the end of September.
Give bench players their roles. I’ve discussed this in passing before. Guys like Ryan Flaherty and Chris Dickerson need to know their place on this team. With Brian Roberts healthy, Flaherty obviously won’t see much of the field. But don’t tease him with the starting role. Let him know that he is here to back up Roberts and pinch-hit late in the game. As for Chris Dickerson, if he doesn’t start hitting again, he won’t be here for long anyway. That gets me to my next point.
Bring up some young talent to charge this team down the stretch. We all saw the effect Manny Machado’s call-up had for the O’s last August and into September. There seems to be only one guy available to do that this year, and his name is Henry Urrutia. Urrutia is hitting a combined .365 in Bowie and Norfolk this year with 7 home runs (all in Bowie) and 43 RBI’s. His defense isn’t anything to write home about, but his talents at the plate should be enough to warrant a DH spot. He’s a fun guy to watch.
Prepare to control their own destiny. The Orioles will play 26 of their final 33 games against the AL East. And then, starting with a four-game series with the Yankees on September 9th, the birds play the rest of the regular season against division opponents. That gives the team a perfect opportunity to gain back lost ground if they need. As long as the Orioles stay competitive and are within striking distance by the time the Yankees series rolls around on September 9th, the division title and therefore October baseball, will be in reach if they can take advantage.