Mike Elias took over as the General Manage of the Baltimore Orioles in 2018. Ben Cherington took over as the Pittsburgh Pirates GM in 2019.
In 2022, Elias’ fourth season at the helm, the Orioles are in the running for a Wild Card spot, which the Pirates could play a part in as they take on Cherington’s previous employer the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend.
As of now the Pirates are projected by Fangraphs to finish with a 62-100 record and a bottom three finish. In 2021 the Orioles finished with a 52-110 record which the Pirates would need to go 3-29 from here on out to match. From a standpoint of the currently existing roster how do the Pirates match up and could they replicate the 2022 O’s?
Short Answer: They’ll need an infusion of Free Agent signings and/or trade acquisitions.
What I wanted to do was look at the Orioles roster as of now and compare it to last season to see who they carried along. The headline grabbing names as of today are obviously Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, and even Kyle Stowers, who were the Orioles first three draft picks in 2019. But what you’ll see is they mostly had an established core of position players to slide their promising rookies in-between.
Lineup on September 1st, 2021:
Cedric Mullins – CF
Ryan Mountcastle – DH
Austin Hayes – LF
Trey Mancini – 1B
Ramon Urias – 3B
Anthony Santander – RF
Jorge Mateo – SS
Jahmai Jones – 2B
Austin Wynns – C
Six of these starters from a year ago are still currently starting regularly for the Orioles. Seven of them played a significant role in the 2022 season as Trey Mancini was only recently traded at the deadline. Jahmai Jones was released in June of this year and signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Austin Wynns was traded back in June to the San Francisco Giants.
If you look at the Pirates current roster they currently only have two starters with an above average OPS if you include Rodolfo Castro with Bryan Reynolds. Of the Orioles’ returning starters mentioned above only Jorge Mateo of the six (or seven with Mancini) was below 2021 average OPS. Kevin Newman is currently sitting at league average (.707 OPS) after his 2-for-4 game.
Where the Pirates do have a leg up is with their starting rotation. I’m going to leave out the bullpen as there are too many moving pieces and variance such as Jorge Lopez was a starter with an ERA over 6.00 in 2021 turned high leverage bullpen arm flipped at the 2022 deadline.
For the 2022 season the only established and effective starter the Orioles carried over was John Means who made only two starts this year before going down with Tommy John surgery. Dean Kremer and Spenser Watkins are two current starters that had 10+ ineffective starts in 2021.
I’d argue the Pirates have at least 3/5th’s of a stable rotation with JT Brubaker, Mitch Keller, and Roansy Contreras.
If the Pirates are to take a step forward in 2023 they will need an infusion of talent by way of free agents, trade acquisitions, or younger players taking a step forward in their development.
Blue Jays @ Pirates
Time: 6:35 PM EST
Pirates Starter: Johan Oviedo (2-1, 3.20)
Blue Jays Starter: Alek Manoah (12-7, 2.60)
Oviedo Notes: This will be Johan Oviedo’s first career start and appearance for the Pirates since his acquisition at the deadline. He was acquired along with Double-A 1B Malcom Nunez for SP Jose Quintana. The 24 year old has made 19 career MLB starts in his career totaling 87.1 IP where he carries a 5.36 ERA and 0-9 record. Oviedo made five appearances with the Indianapolis Indians in Triple-A with four of them being starts. His last appearance on August 27th lasted 3.2 IP with three hits allowed, a walk, and four strike outs. Throwing a total of 63 pitches with 36 of them going for strikes. Efficiency will be key as he likely has a pitch limit in the range 75-85 pitches.
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 2, 2022
1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Vladimir Guerrero (R) DH
3. Teoscar Hernandez (R) LF
4. Alejandro Kirk (R) C
5. Bo Bichette (R) SS
6. Matt Chapman (R) 3B
7. Cavan Biggio (L) 1B
8. Santiago Espinal (R) 2B
9. Jackie Bradley Jr. (L) RF
Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.