An Ironically Bitter Ending to an Otherwise Magical Orioles Season

This season, the Baltimore Orioles passed on acquiring many starting pitchers, only to watch those same pitchers beat them in the playoffs.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: Yennier Cano #78 and Adley Rutschman #35 of the Baltimore Orioles walk back to the dugout after the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers during Game Three of the Division Series at Globe Life Field on October 10, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The Baltimore Orioles magical season came to an end five days ago, as the buzzsaw that is the Texas Rangers offense proved too much for the young Orioles to handle.

While the Rangers offense did what it had done all season, the Orioles managed to hang around in two of the games. In game one they only lost 2-3, and they scored eight runs in a game two loss. What is most unfortunate for the Orioles is that they suffered two losses at the hands of pitchers that many lobbied for them to acquire.

Game 2

In game two of the series, the Orioles faced Jordan Montgomery. A pitcher that the Rangers acquired at the trade deadline this year. He happened to be on the St. Louis Cardinals whom the Orioles also made a trade with. The Orioles trade was for Jack Flaherty, who had not been pitching particularly well.

In game two, Montgomery did not have his best showing. He gave up four runs in as many innings but it was enough to help get the Rangers a victory.

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While Montgomery did not provide his best performance in game two, he has been one of the Rangers best pitchers in the second half. He has also already put on an incredible postseason performance in a start against Tampa.

What should really sting the Orioles after game two is knowing that they didn’t make a move for Montgomery or any other strong pitching option at the deadline. They decided to trade for the struggling veteran that they thought they could fix, but they could not.

Game 3

This offseason, the Oriole faithful among others continued to lobby for starting pitching. With a number of veterans on the market it seemed inevitable the Orioles would find help somewhere. They did find it, in the form of Kyle Gibson who signed a 1 year $10 million dollar contract.

When Kyle Gibson Signed that contract, Rangers pitcher Nathan Eovaldi was still a free agent. He would sign with the Rangers almost a month later for two years $34 Million dollars with a vesting option. Eovaldi posted a 3.63 ERA in 144 innings for the Rangers this year. He had an excellent season by all accounts outside of a brief injury.

On Tuesday, Eovaldi ended the Orioles season with a stellar pitching performance. He gave the Rangers seven innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts.

It feels unfair to compare Gibson to Eovaldi but here we are. It is worth noting that Eovaldi was not the only unsigned arm at the time Gibson was signed. Players such as Wade Miley, Seth Lugo, and Michael Wacha were all still available at the time Gibson signed.

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The greater point is that the Orioles had the option to go find quality veteran pitching but opted not to. All three of those names listed were not that much more expensive than Gibson and all had better seasons.

Till Next Year

It is easy to look at the season and say that they should have done this or they should have done that. While it can be frustrating that it ended at the hands of two pitchers who the Orioles could have added but chose cheaper options instead, it doesn’t take away from a magical season.

The Orioles were picked by many to finish fourth or worse in the AL East. A lot of pundits had them set to miss the playoffs. The simulations and projection tools spewed more of the same with FanGraphs giving the Orioles just a 10% chance to make the playoffs at season start. That was coupled with a less than two percent chance to win the division.

The 2023 season is one that Orioles fans will not soon forget. We were gifted a rookie of the year, the emergence of Kyle Bradish, a breakout season for Anthony Santander, and many more memories. Orioles, thank you for everything this season, we will see you at OPACY next season.