The Orioles’ schedule for a 60-game season hasn’t been released yet, but they at least know who their opponents will be this summer.
And to be frank, it isn’t a very friendly schedule.
The Orioles will face the four other teams in the AL East a total of 40 times (10 each) and then the NL East for a total of 20 times — though it’s unclear if those games will be split evenly.
So, the Orioles will face the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays 10 times each, while they’ll play the Nationals, Braves, Mets, Phillies and Marlins an undetermined amount of games.
Of the nine teams the Orioles will face this summer, four made the playoffs last season — two of which made the League Championship Series. Just two (the Blue Jays and Marlins) had a record below .500 last season.
According to FanGraphs, the latest ZiPS projection system gives the Orioles the toughest strength of schedule in baseball. The same projection estimates the Orioles will go 19-41 and finish 18 games behind the first-place Yankees.
That record would give the Orioles the worst record in the sport and the No. 1 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Baltimore went 2-17 against New York last season, and allowed a whopping 151 runs throughout the season series. Faced with 10 games, in a shortened season, against the Yankees is likely to lead to an incredibly lopsided season series once again.
In fact, against the five teams on the Orioles’ schedule this season that they played last year, they posted a 26-54 record — a win percentage of just .325.
The Orioles were worse against their division than they were the rest of the league last year, meaning honing in on inter-divisional games isn’t a benefit for the Orioles.
The Yankees are of course one of the best teams in baseball, but the Rays’ pitching staff and Red Sox’ bats won’t be an easy problem to solve for a depleted Orioles pitching staff.
And while the AL East presents problems of its own, the NL East’s top four teams should be highly competitive as well.
The Orioles will likely have at least four games against the defending World Series champion Nationals, and perhaps more, depending on the schedule that gets released by the league.
Either way, the Orioles are set to have to deal with a loaded Nationals starting rotation. And if all the games against the Nationals are played back-to-back, they’re guaranteed to face Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg — and likely both in a four-game series.
The Braves’ lineup with Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna will serve up its own problems, as will the Phillies’ young lineup centered around Bryce Harper.
With the Blue Jays and Marlins looking improved from just a season ago, it’s not unreasonable to say the Orioles were given the worst restart situation in the league.
Leaving aside the fact that Baltimore will lose out on valuable development time for its young roster, it has also been put behind the eight-ball in terms of a shortened season.
Even though it might lead to another No. 1 overall pick next summer, this has the makings of a long short-season for the Orioles.
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