The Baltimore Orioles and the rest of Major League Baseball operate on a schedule that’s heavy with division games at the beginning and end of the season. That’s why of late, teams have had the opportunity to come back and win divisions late in the year. Previously they would have been out, however having a division game-heavy slate in September gives teams opportunitites.
Throughout the month of April, the Orioles play against AL East teams for all but three games. (An interleague series in Cincinnatti.) They say that you can’t win a division in April; but you certainly can lose one. That will be true again this year.
I tell people all the time that the goals of an MLB season should come in phases. First off the goal should be to come out of spring training with no serious injuries. Then the goal should be to be competitive through the first half. At that point you can set your sights on either selling or getting into the post season. After that, it’s advancing in the playoffs – at which point you set your sights on the World Series.
Hand-in-hand with getting into the post season is winning the division. As the O’s found out last year, you really do want to do everything in your power to stay out of that Wild Card Game. And the first month of the season might well dictate if the Orioles are able to have a shot at doing that.
When you play a slate of games that heavy in your division, there will be some things that are figured out early. How will Oriole pitching stack up against AL East bats? Are the NY Yankees for real coming out of last season? Will Toronto fair with their new lineup?
Mind you, the post season picture won’t magically come forward on May 1st. However the first month of the season will give us an idea of whether or not the Birds might stand a chance in the American League East of 2017.