Orioles clinch a Playoff Spot for the First Time since 2016.
*Spoiler Alert, this is a fairly biased article. Go Birds*
BIRDLAND! You can't spell October in 2023 without the O's. Easily the funnest season to be a fan in the last decade, in my opinion. While I'm not particularly proud of the fact the O's haven't been in the Playoffs in almost seven years, but hey, who cares now. The Birds have arrived and they are here to compete. They boast an AL BEST record of 93-56, and another AL Best record against teams above .500 at 50-37.
Not going to lie, this weekend's series vs the Rays had me nervous. And it doesn't get much easier with 3 games with Houston starting tonight (Monday Sep 18). However, Tampa's schedule doesn't get any easier, playing Toronto 6 times in its final 2 weeks of games. Toronto is on the fringe of a playoff spot, with everything to fight for. Tampa Bay took the first 2 in Baltimore, Game 1 in a Heartbreaker for O's fans, and Game 2 in decisive fashion. They had their ace in Tyler Glasnow throwing in Game 3, against rookie Grayson Rodgriguez. In a game the Rays were favored at -150 on Vegas Sportsbooks, The O's tagged Glasnow early and often, and Rodriguez showcased his Ace-level stuff en route to an 8-0 victory and 8 shutout innings for the rookie right hander.
If the O's are to compete in October, pitching performances like the one Rodriguez showcased Saturday night will be needed. Winning the division and gaining the number 1 seed will be incredibly important down the stretch, especially for a team with fringe-level starting pitching.
With the series split with Tampa, the O's hold the season series tiebreaker in the event the 2 teams would end the season with the same record, making the O's the AL East Champs in that scenario. Over the next 2 weeks (~ 13 Games for each team) Tampa would need to finish 3 games better than Baltimore in order to win the Division. The schedules remaining are as follows:
TB: 3 vs LAA, 3 vs TOR, 2 @ BOS, 3 @ TOR
BAL: 3 @HOU, 4 @ CLE, 2 vs WAS, 4 vs BOS
All in all, the O's have 13 games remaining and Tampa has 11. Anything can change in a hurry, but with some help from a floundering Angels team and a desperate Toronto ball club, the O's could clinch the Division either during the Washington series or the Boston one, both of which are at home. Camden would lose its mind. I would lose my mind, I'd probably cry. The last time they won the division was in 2014, a game I attended with my Dad and brothers.
Now, I'm going to go through my pitching rankings for the O's here down the stretch, in order of trustworthiness. Who I do trust in a key situation, and who I don't. With some room in the middle for the fringe guys. Anyways, here it is.
Kind of Trust
King Felix (if he returns)
Anyways, playoff baseball will be back in Birdland. Camden will be rocking, and the world will be watching.
Way-too-early World Series Prediction: Braves v Orioles. O's in 7.
Yes, I'm biased.
Thanks for reading!