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AL East Previews: Baltimore Orioles

After a rather eventful off-season, the Orioles are essentially the same team they were in 2015

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles set out this winter to retain their big bats that had become free agents, while also wanting to add even more pop to their already strong lineup. They started by giving Matt Weiters a qualifying offer, which he accepted. Then in early January, the Orioles re-signed Chris Davis to a monstrous deal, possibly keep his bat in the division for the next seven years.

The Orioles weren't done yet though, as they reportedly signed Dexter Fowler...and then Yovani Gallardo! Then, Fowler didn't actually sign, and neither did Gallardo. Until, Gallardo really did sign, then the Orioles signed Fowler, or so they thought..

Fowler actually showed up at the Cubs camp on the day he was supposed to report for the Orioles and turned out there never was a deal. The Orioles did, legitimately sign Yovani Gallardo.

With that disaster, the Orioles had previously selected former Rays minor league soldier, Joey Rickard, in the Rule V draft. Rickard would excel in spring training and actually win a spot in the Orioles everyday lineup as their left fielder.

So, what can we expect from the Orioles in 2016?

The Pitching:

The Orioles last year had a rotation that was in the middle of the pack as they produced 9.3 fWAR, which ranked them 18th lowest in the majors. It probably should have even worse than that as their starters had the 4th worst FIP in all the majors and the 2nd worst in the American League and considering their only remedy to that was to add worse defensive players and a lone starting pitcher, it doesn't bode too well for 2016.

In fact, the Orioles actually lost one of their most dependable starters over the past four years.  Wei-Yin Chen left and signed with the Marlins, while Miguel Gonzalez was also jut released, further weakening an already starved rotation

Starters

PECOTA ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 IP BWARP
Ubaldo Jimenez 4.44 1.42 8.9 4.2 182 1.4
Chris Tillman 4.63 1.35 6.9 3.1 186 1.1
Yovani Gallardo 4.64 1.40 6.3 3.1 177 1.0
Kevin Gausman (DL) 4.29 1.33 8.0 2.8 131 1.3
Mike Wright 4.81 1.46 6.2 3.0 90 0.3

Ubaldo Jimenez is expected to be the ace of the Orioles staff with a 1.4 BWARP. To put that in perspective, the Rays have three pitchers that are projected to eclipse that, with Chris Archer more than doubling it.

Behind him will be Chris Tillman, who can be lights out on an occasion and was excellent for Baltimore for a string of years from 2012 to 2014. Injuries derailed him in 2015 and may continue to linger throughout 2016. He certainly bears watching as he can be an ace when his stuff is working.

Gallardo has quietly been one of the most unheralded starting pitchers in the game over the past nine years as he consistently churned out quality outings on the mound, and maintained consistent peripherals (3.66 ERA / 3.74 FIP) over that time. He won't dominate every time out but will likely give his team a chance.

Gausman is a wildcard, as you never know when an injury might flare up and derail yet another season for him. The Orioles experimented with adding him to the bullpen, but the results weren't much different.

*After some quick research, turns out Gausman is already injured and beginning the year on the DL

Rounding out the rotation is Mike Wright, who failed to impress during his debut season, ending with an ERA and a FIP north of six over 12 games and 45 innings pitched. PECOTA doesn't expect much more from him in his sophomore campaign.

Tyler Wilson will fill in as a spot starter

PECOTA ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 IP WARP
Tyler Wilson 4.76 1.38 5.8 2.8 65 0.3

Bullpen

PECOTA ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 IP WARP
Zack Britton 3.21 1.20 9.0 3.0 64 1.1
Darren O'Day 3.47 1.11 9.7 2.5 64 0.9
TJ McFarland 4.46 1.39 6.3 3.1 32 0.2
Jason Garcia 4.81 1.48 7.3 4.3 21 1.3
Vance Worley 4.40 1.38 6.5 2.7 69 0.4
Brian Matusz (DL) 3.78 1.28 9.2 3.2 37 0.4
Brad Brach 4.26 1.38 9.5 4.0 58 0.4
Dylan Bundy 4.15 1.32 7.9 3.7 32 0.3
Mychal Givens 3.92 1.29 9.5 3.4 53 0.5

The Orioles also have a thin bullpen, thinner oerhaps than the Rays', but without the much needed help of relievers capable of going beyond three outs. So, they'll need some tremendous efforts put forth from their starters -- which is not very likely,considering who they'll send out there.

However, if a starter is able to get past the seventh, the Orioles posses one of the most dominant duos in baseball with Darren O'Day and Zack Britton, who have dismantled the past Rays lineups with ease.

The Offense:

PECOTA AVG OBP SLG TAV HR VORP WARP PA
Manny Machado, 3B .280 .329 .462 .278 22 26.1 5.1 625
Adam Jones, CF .277 .314 .475 .277 30 30.0 2.3 679
Chris Davis, 1B .255 .333 .518 .296 37 27.7 2.1 595
Mark Trumbo, RF .252 .303 .467 .271 29 15.8 0.5 583
Pedro Alvarez, DH .231 .305 .445 .263 22 6.4 0.7 435
Matt Wieters, C .254 .315 .432 .262 18 15.7 0.7 492
Jonathan Schoop, 2B .248 .281 .431 .251 22 9.5 1.1 513
J.J. Hardy, SS .249 .287 .391 .240 16 5.4 0.0 531
Joey Rickard, LF .245 .329 .361 .250 4 4.1 0.2 233

The Orioles lineup is something to be feared.

Their leadoff hitter is projected to reach 20+ homers, with six players in the regular lineup projected to reach that mark, and two others who aren't far behind. It is truly a murderer's row of hitters, but they also have some plus defense to go with that as everything on the left side of the field will more than likely result in an. Adam Jones and now Joey Rickard should provide stellar defense in the outfield and then you have the incredible Manny Machado and the always sure handed J.J. Hardy. Altogher that's a good recipe for a successful defense.

Everything on the right side, however, is a different story as Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis, and Pedro Alvarez will all spend time rotating between right field and first base, with Matt Wieters probably getting a few starts at first as well.

The Orioles checked the international market for some major league talent, and thought they found some as they signed Hyun-Soo Kim with the hopes of him being a starting outfielder for Baltimore. However, after a month of spring training, they thought otherwise and wanted to send him to the minors. But apparently Kim is not contractually required to accept that demotion, and he's refusing to report to his minor league team. At present it looks as though the Orioles will be obligated to carry him on their 25 man roster whether they intend to play him or not.

As we said, it's been a strange off season for the Birds.

Conclusion:

The offense will have to carry the Orioles, which will be a challenge at a time when good pitching has tended to get the better of good hitting over the length of a season. PECOTA the Orioles pegged at a 75-87 record, finishing last in the AL East, and I don't see the Orioles doing much better than that.