Orioles Observations on Jordan Lyles’ Effectiveness, Nine Prospects and MASN’s Technical Difficulties

SARASOTA, Fla. — Signed to the biggest free agent contract of general manager Mike Elias’ tenure in Baltimore, Jordan Lyles is expected to be a regular source of innings in the Orioles rotation. Considering the state of their pitching team with the regular season in a week, he showed just how valuable that can be in his last start to spring training.

Lyles needed less than 60 shots to complete five two-run innings in Friday’s 3-2 win on the Philadelphia Phillies, adding another dozen or so to the bullpen afterward. After going three innings in his first Grapefruit League outing, he will make his second until next week before making his first regular season start for Baltimore, which will likely come in the second game of the year after that John Means will have started the first game. April 8.

I should be ready to go,” Lyles said. “Hopefully on that first outing I’ll try to get six, seven, if I’m efficient like I was today.”

Lyles said her workload was about a run and two starts behind what she would be at this stage of typical spring training, with this year’s show season shortened after the lockdown of 99 days of Major League Baseball. The 31-year-old said he’s been on some teams during his 11-year career that require all starters to throw 100 pitches before leaving camp.

“Obviously that’s not going to be the case anywhere in baseball this year,” Lyles said. “It’s going to be different for everyone.”

Beyond Means and Lyles, the Orioles should have loose pitchers working in tandem for their other three rotation spots, with Tyler Wells, the closest last season, making three-to-four inning starts and every other pitchers for these undecided roles.

“There are a lot of jobs up for grabs right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “And it’s not an ideal situation, but it’s a situation we’re in.”

That makes Lyles, who ranked 22nd in the majors with 180 innings in 2021, all the more important.

“We’re going for innings,” Hyde said. “Jordan is a guy who has given them in the past and did a great job in Texas last year recording a bunch of innings. It is important that we have a presence of veterans in our rotation.

The first Orioles to play a full game this spring were three of their recent highly drafted players.

Third baseman Jordan Westburg, center fielder Colton Cowser, and left fielder John Rhodes were raised from minor league camp to start in the bottom three spots of the Orioles’ order and played all nine innings.

“Hyde came to me in probably the fifth was like, ‘Are you good playing all nine?’ and I was like, “Absolutely,” said Cowser, who the Orioles drafted fifth overall last year against Sam Houston, “I can’t let this go.”

Cowser, 22, has come on multiple times this spring, displaying his solid discipline at the plate with a .462 on-base percentage.

“I’m really lucky to do that, they get me out here in this environment,” he said. “The first games I was a bit nervous, then from there it’s the same game, so it’s been great.

“The pitchers are all different levels and such. Almost all of them are higher than I will be, so I’m excited to face them.

Drafted 30th overall in 2020, Westburg, 23, had another solid visit to camp with a single, double and stolen base, as well as a diving save at third in the ninth. Rhodes, a 21-year-old drafted in the 2021 third round, had a quiet day but impressed Hyde this spring.

With players bound for Triple-A having already broken camp and minor leaguers heading to other affiliates doing the same in the coming days, the final five games of spring training could feature looks at some of the youngest players in the Orioles system.

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network won’t allow its broadcasters to travel to road games for at least the start of the 2022 season, a move that makes the Orioles the only one of 30 MLB teams that won’t have a radio or radio. television on the road. .

Hopefully the network learned its lesson on Friday.

The last of three games aired by MASN this spring was littered with technical difficulties, primarily that audio from broadcasters Melanie Newman and Ben McDonald — calling the game from Baltimore as they will during the regular season — was not playing. Instead, MASNsports.com writer Roch Kubatko was rushed to the pits and had to call the first 2 1/2 innings himself with no prep, notes, or lineups. Kubatko has done an admirable job given the circumstances, but it’s a disservice to him and the viewers that he’s been thrust into this situation. The network’s original plans had Kubatko leaving Sarasota over a week ago; what if he hadn’t been there?

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That might have led to what the Orioles and MASN could have done with each of their home games this spring: a simple stream, with no play-by-play calls on it. There are cameras for every game at Ed Smith Stadium, used to display a feed on the scoreboard and TVs throughout the stadium. Getting that for Orioles fans who aren’t in Sarasota doesn’t seem like a big step forward.

Also wouldn’t let broadcasters travel like virtually every other team’s network does. MASN cited COVID-19 concerns in a memo to employees about the travel situation, but Newman, Geoff Arnold and Brett Hollander were flown back to Florida – a state fairly relaxed in its handling of the pandemic — to broadcast games on the radio this spring. Having broadcasters during the team’s opening series in St. Petersburg should be no different, and the same should apply to every trip the Orioles (and Nationals) take this year.

Baltimore is 1-0 all-time when Kubatko plays per game. There’s no reason the record should change.

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