It was definitely a good and bad weekend for the Orioles. The Birds signed their #1 draft pick right before the deadline and won one of the most exciting games of the year. On the down side they dropped two of three to the Detroit Tigers and lost their best starting pitcher to a knee injury to start the second half of the season. This weekend showed a lot of things. The Orioles are definitely going in the right direction for their future, they are still contenders, but ultimately aren’t ready to run with the big boys. Here’s why summed up with my top three events of the weekend.
Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Tigers showed the Orioles everything that they covet to be a contender in the American League. The Tigers may trail the Orioles in the Wildcard hunt but they are much more prepared to make a run down the stretch. It all starts with the guy that made the start for Detroit on Sunday. Justin Verlander was everything that a #1 starter was supposed to be. He walked out to the mound on Sunday and dominated the Oriole line-up. He not only dominated but he went deep into the game, pitching eight shut-out innings to get the Tigers to their closer and give their bullpen a much need rest after Saturday’s 13 inning marathon. The Tigers started the game with another big weapon, their lead-off hitter. Austin Jackson hit Miguel Gonzalez’s second pitch of the game out of the park to give the Tigers a lead they never relinquished. Until the Orioles find a legitimate lead-off hitter their offense will continue to struggle. Nick Markakis may be the best option right now, but in the long run he is not the answer.
For the second straight year the Orioles signed their top right handed starting pitcher #1 pick right before the signing deadline.
This year’s #1 pick Kevin Gausman signed on the dotted line just minutes before the 5 pm deadline on Friday afternoon. Oriole fans can gleam hope from the fact that Dylan Bundy and Gausman could be anchoring the rotation in the next couple of years. Gausman is a lanky right hander that has a great fastball and change-up. He has already pitched a lot this year so don’t expect much from him for the rest of this season. It will be interesting to see where he starts the year next year. There was speculation that Gausman would go back to LSU after the Tigers lost to Stony Brook in the College World Series. Former Orioles Pitcher Ben McDonald is close to Gausman and he told us on our show last week that he expected Gausman to sign and he was correct. Although the decision was not a slam dunk for Gausman, “It was a difficult decision, said Gausman. “I love LSU. I think I always will. Baton Rouge will always be a second home to me.” Kevin was 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA for the Tigers with 128 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings. Gausman was drafted by the Dodgers in 2010 and turned down the Dodgers to go to LSU.