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4 ORIOLES

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP BALTIMORE

A solid bullpen has been the bread and butter of teams that Buck Showalter has gotten to the postseason, but with Zach Britton out until June, the unit could really struggle. And with this rotation, they're going to have to turn to them early and often.... Kevin Gausman has No. 1--type stuff—the only problem is that that stuff shows up once every five starts. At this point everyone should accept that he'll never be a top-end starter.... We haven't seen the 99- to 100-mph fastball from Dylan Bundy since his arm injuries, but he's really learned how to pitch. He gives them hope, but beyond that, it's a mess.... This is still a dangerous team offensively. Jonathan Schoop's new-found patience has made him a borderline star, and with Manny Machado at short, this is one of the best middle infields in the league. What was behind [Machado] moving over from third? He was a $30 million player at third; now he's a $35 million player at short. Enough said.... Adam Jones is still a plus defender in center, but he's starting to wear and tear, just like Chris Davis, who made a great adjustment midway through his [2015] contract year, signed the $161 million deal, and then went right back to his same broken approach. That contract is a disaster; it's one of the reasons why this team is trending downward.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

The focus in Baltimore this year will be on Manny Machado, in what will certainly be the shortstop's final season by the Chesapeake. We could also be seeing the end of Adam Jones's time in black and orange. Jones, 32, is climbing the franchise leader boards, and in 2018 he should pass Brooks Robinson for fourth in homers, Ken Williams for sixth in RBI and a number of players to jump to seventh in plate appearances. He is already in the top five in franchise history in hits and top 10 in games played. Jones is declining gracefully, hitting .285 with 26 homers last year, while playing in 147 games. He is still helping the Orioles win, if perhaps this year for the final time. Like Machado, he too can leave as a free agent after '18.

OVER / UNDER

77.5

They made no notable moves other than add Cashner to a staff that will be dreadful regardless. Things will get worse if (when?) Machado is dealt at midseason.

THE LINEUP

1. THIRD BASE

Tim Beckham

.254 BA/21 HR/5 SB

2. SHORTSTOP

Manny Machado

.284 BA/36 HR/9 SB

3. SECOND BASE

Jonathan Schoop

.270 BA/30 HR/2 SB

4. CENTERFIELD

Adam Jones

.271 BA/27 HR/3 SB

5. LEFTFIELD

Trey Mancini

.271 BA/22 HR/2 SB

6. FIRST BASE

Chris Davis

.225 BA/.473 SLG/31 HR

7. DH

Mark Trumbo

.249 BA/.476 SLG/24 HR

8. RIGHTFIELD

Colby Rasmus

.229 BA/17 HR/3 SB

FANTASY BREAKOUT

9. CATCHER

Chance Sisco

.253 BA/6 HR/3 SB

The top prospect's fantasy stock rises with the thin depth at the position this year.

THE STAFF

1. RH STARTER

Kevin Gausman

11 W/4.48 ERA/1.34 WHP

2. RH STARTER

Dylan Bundy

10 W/5.00 ERA/1.37 WHP

3. RH STARTER

Chris Tillman

6 W/5.68 ERA/1.57 WHP

4. RH STARTER

Andrew Cashner

7 W/5.40 ERA/1.54 WHP

CLOSER

Brad Brach

15 SV/4.15 ERA/9.4 K9

THE SKIPPER

Buck Showalter