Until the season-ending bombardment they suffered at Texas on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the ALDS, these Orioles were strangers to a sweep. Bolstered by an impressive young core, the Orioles have not been swept during the entire stretch of the 2023 regular season. In fact, they have not been swept in a regular season series of at least two games since the Tigers mopped them in three games on May 13-15, 2022.
This is a streak of 91 consecutive regular season series without being swept. That’s impressive stuff, even by the standards of a 101-win team like the 2023 O’s.
Some may note that the sweep in Detroit precedes the major league debut of franchise catcher Adley Rutschman, who in many ways is the face of the Orioles’ rebuilding and recent successes. It has now been 90 consecutive regular season series without a sweep for Rutschman. This makes him The second-longest “sweeping” streak to start a career in MLB history.
There’s now a basic qualifier attached to all the Orioles’ non-sweep line notes, which you may have noticed in the wording above: regular season. Baltimore’s 2023 season ended before the team could record a single playoff win. The ALDS sweep at the hands of the Rangers was already surprising enough given the Orioles’ status as the top seed in the AL. It’s even more surprising considering how long it’s been since they were overrun.
So what was responsible for the recent sweep when the stakes were highest? That’s mostly due to what almost everyone said was the Orioles’ fatal flaw: rotation.
Heading into a 2022 season in which the buyer’s deadline will likely give Baltimore a playoff spot, the O’s have done little to address their apparent rotation shortage. They signed Kyle Gibson and named him Winter. Before the trade deadline and still facing flaws in the rotation, they took a half-measure to deal Jack Flaherty. Both Gibson and Flaherty were in the bullpen for the recently concluded postseason series.
As for the starters who did start — Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez, and Dean Kramer — they combined to pitch to a horrific 14.63 ERA in the ALDS. The Rangers have a powerful offense, and they strongly reminded Baltimore’s starters of those abilities. Whether it’s owner John Angelos’ unwillingness to spend at levels that even remotely match a World Series contender (he’s 25th on the player payroll), embracing general manager Mike Elias, or a combination of both, the decision makers are to blame for this exit. What’s embarrassing is that they were the ones who deliberately neglected the maneuver that was their undoing against Texas.
The counterexample for them was the diamond. The Rangers signed Jacob deGrom and Game 3 winner Nathan Eovaldi. When they were injured, the Texans dealt Jordan Montgomery and Max Scherzer. this Getting buy-in from ownership and the front office, that’s what Baltimore lacks.
There’s no guarantee that different behavior over the winter and at the deadline would change that outcome, but that’s the danger of acting too aggressively in a sport like baseball, which has so much randomness. Sometimes things don’t go your way. However, this is at least more consoling than engaging half-cocked and being destroyed and overrun.
Angelos and Elias owe their fans and these young players like Rutschmann, Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson and soon enough Jackson Holiday more than that. Perhaps this is a lesson they will have time to reflect on and learn from during the rest of October. The club’s future remains very bright, but the owner and key decision-maker must do their part to maximize their chances of winning the Championship in the coming years. They didn’t do that this time.
“Coffee ninja. Web fan. Hipster-friendly beer enthusiast. Professional creator.”