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ESPN’s Karl Ravech: ‘I don’t think the Orioles have staying power in that division’

ESPN’s Karl Ravech: ‘I don’t think the Orioles have staying power in that division’

Baseball, on occasion, lets people’s imaginations run wild. 

From the time the first pitch of a game happens until the final out is recorded, anything — theoretically — is possible. That notion stays relevant even as it’s expanded upon to an entire season. Or, in 2020’s case, a 60-game season. 

And after a 5-3 start to the season, which is now a 5-4 start, some people let their thoughts run free about how likely the Orioles were to make a serious playoff push. 

But some, like ESPN’s Karl Ravech, don’t think the Orioles can sustain their stellar hitting and sturdy-enough bullpen for the entire season.

“I don’t think the Orioles can over the course of 60 games,” Ravech said on NBC Sports Washington’s Nationals Talk Podcast. “I do think over the course of 10, maybe 20, be in it. But a lot of times during a baseball season, the first couple of weeks out of the gate you’re surprised by it. Similarly out west, and I don’t mean to dismiss the Orioles, the Rockies are off to a really good start. To me, the Rockies have better players than the Orioles do.”

After an embarrassing loss to the Red Sox on Opening Day, expectations for the Orioles, which were already low to begin with, cratered amongst the fanbase. But they rebounded to win the next two, and after two-straight losses to the Yankees, swept the Rays in a three-game set at Camden Yards. 

RELATED: ESPN NOT CONVINCED BY ORIOLES’ HOT START, PUTS THEM LAST IN FIRST POWER RANKINGS

With so many questions surrounding every team in the division aside from the Yankees, some hypothesized that, if a miraculous season for the Orioles were to happen, this is the script for such a year to occur.

The Rays were just swept by the Orioles, the Red Sox have an atrocious pitching staff and the Blue Jays still have yet to settle into a permanent home for the season. With an expanded playoff format, the season started in the right way for the Orioles.

“I don’t think the Orioles have the staying power in that division, and playing against the two divisions that they do,” Ravech said.

But while an impressive start was a bit surprising, especially considering some individual achievements across the roster, it’s still not terribly early to think about a playoff race with nearly one-sixth of the season complete.

Yet, despite blazing starts at the plate for Rio Ruiz, Jose Iglesias and Hanser Alberto, and strong performances on the mound from John Means, Miguel Castro and Alex Cobb, the Orioles still have a lot to prove to show the league they are even capable of staying in the playoff chase. 

After all, this team was projected by many to barely, or not even at all, reach the 20-win plateau. 

For now, though, the Orioles having any realistic, no matter to what degree, conversations about a playoff run are a very welcome sign in Baltimore.

“To me, this was always going to be, for better more than worse, but for better or worse, the most memorable baseball season that I’ve ever experienced,” Ravech said. “I think a lot of the baseball fans at home for a million reasons will look at it that way as well. Especially if your team is in it. If you’re rooting for the Orioles, what you think would be a throwaway year, at least for the first month, you’re not throwing anything away.”

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Nationals will want to avoid historically bad start like other past World Series champions

Nationals will want to avoid historically bad start like other past World Series champions

The Nationals are staring straight down the barrel of a 1-5 start Wednesday as they get set to take on the Blue Jays, and for obvious reasons, Washington will want to avoid losing five of their first six games. 

But in the not-so-obvious category, the Nationals are at risk of joining a select group of defending World Series champions to get out to such a bleak start. Only two teams in the last 25 years won the World Series and then started 1-5 the next season: The 1998 Marlins and the 2019 Red Sox. 

In the Marlins' case, they gutted their roster after winning the 1997 World Series and ultimately lost 108 games the following season. Florida's 1-5 start was part of an 11-game losing streak, the longest skid for a defending champion in the history of the game. When you look at how the first six games went, it serves as a solid predictor for how the team performed all season long. 

1998 MARLINS (first six games)
4.33 runs per game
7.17 ERA
-17 run differential

The Red Sox decided to run it back, re-signing Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year, $56 million contract despite two prior Tommy John surgeries. Two key players they didn't bring back were relievers Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel, and boy did they miss them. Their bullpen had the seventh-worst ERA in the American League while their starters came in ninth-worst among Al staffs.

RELATED: NATS FIND THEMSELVES LOSING IN THE CHAOS OF THE 2020 BASEBALL SEASON

Boston got out to a dreadful start and remained inconsistent throughout the year. Their lineup was the most productive in baseball, but their pitching staff was quite the opposite. 

2019 RED SOX (first six games)
4.0 runs per game
7.00 ERA
-18 run differential

The Nationals probably don't have to worry about finishing last in the NL East. They didn't gut their team similar Florida did and they don't have to worry about their pitching staff combusting like Boston's did last year.

Washington's already promising pitching staff should improve even more once Strasburg returns to the rotation full time, while the offensive struggles should fade when Juan Soto eventually gets cleared to return to the lineup. 

2020 NATIONALS (5 games)
2.8 runs per game
3.60 ERA
-4 run differential

Still, they should try to avoid the 1-5 start just to dodge the bad company. We've mentioned Florida's 108-loss season, and once the 2019 season concluded for Boston, they fired President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and later traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers of all teams. It might be important to note that both the '98 Marlins and '19 Red Sox were led by Dombrowski. 

So will the Nationals improve to a more comfortable 2-4 on the year against a Blue Jays pitcher making his major-league debut, or will they fall to 1-5 and be doomed to a last-place finish that will cause them to trade their best player to the Dodgers in the offseason? Just kidding, those last two things won't happen. 

Or will they? 

Small-sample-size theater only deals in absolutes. 

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Red Sox SP Eduardo Rodríguez diagnosed with heart issue after COVID-19 bout

Red Sox SP Eduardo Rodríguez diagnosed with heart issue after COVID-19 bout

Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodríguez was diagnosed with a heart condition called myocarditis on Sunday, just over a week after being cleared to resume baseball activities.

Rodríguez tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 before training camp began in March. He told reporters that the virus made him feel “100 years old” and it took him 10 days to even resume a throwing program. The left-hander underwent an MRI that revealed the myocarditis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the heart muscle and typically contracted after a viral infection.

Unable to participate in baseball activities since Thursday, Rodríguez will remain shut down for another week before the team’s medical staff reassesses his condition. Since arriving in Boston for training camp, he’s not reported any lingering symptoms from his experience with the coronavirus.

A 27-year-old starter, Rodríguez was expected to be the Red Sox’s ace this season after Chris Sale underwent Tommy John surgery in April. He made 34 starts in 2019, posting a 3.81 ERA with 213 strikeouts and an AL-high 75 walks while eclipsing 200 innings for the first time in his career.

With Rodríguez and Sale unavailable, the Red Sox started Nathan Eovaldi on Opening Day. He turned in six innings of one run ball as Boston beat the Orioles 13-2.

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