Buck Showalter took over a dreadful 32-73 team and managed them to a 34-23 record down the stretch last season, creating some optimism among Orioles fans for the first time in a long time.
So much for that.
This season the Orioles have the AL’s worst record at 42-63, which is a .400 winning percentage that ranks as the team’s second-worst during the past 10 years, and as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes “the honeymoon with Showalter seems to be over now, with some fans routinely criticizing Showalter’s lineup and bullpen decisions.”
That’s what happens when raised expectations are met with the league’s worst record, but Showalter has now managed exactly one full season in Baltimore and his 76-86 record would be the team’s best since 2004. He’s not a miracle-worker, but for the Orioles a .469 winning percentage is pretty close and Connolly is full of praise while noting that Showalter has “had to count on guys who probably shouldn’t be in the majors” and “has been handcuffed by the lack of talent on the 25-man roster.”
Reading between the lines, that sure seems to suggest that Orioles fans should be reconsidering the length of their honeymoon with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.
Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.
In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.