After 149 Games, O's Still Largely Control Own Destiny

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Someone at an Orioles message board polled the community on what their confidence level is right now in regards to the O’s making the playoffs.  The answers were particularly bleak and I don’t necessarily disagree with that in principle.  The Orioles have to play very well over the final 13 then cross their fingers that they get some help.  When both of those elements need to happen – good play from your team and no-as-good play from other teams – it is always a long shot.

Nonetheless, I felt like some of the responses went a little far in the “they have no shot” direction.  I know this is a bit of a cop out, but the question would be better asked after Thursday’s games when the Royals/Indians, Rays/Rangers, and O’s/Red Sox series have provided us with a little more clarity.

Someone wrote that they can’t see us making the playoffs unless we go on a 13 game winning streak.  I am sure they weren’t be completely literal with that comment, but if the Orioles were to go 12-1 and not at least get a play-in game for the final WC spot, two of the following would have to happen:

* Tampa goes 10-4 or better;
* Rangers go 10-4 or better
* Indians go 10-3 or better;
* Yankees go 12-1 or better;
* Royals go 13-0

It is very unlikely that both the Rays and Rangers both go 10-4 given they play each other four times starting tonight.  If the split the series, both will still need to go 8-2 down the stretch.  Rangers have the Royals 3 times and Angels 4 times after this (with the Astros in there as well).  Rays have us 4 times, Yankees 3 times and Jays 3 times.  Neither of those are total push over schedules at least enough to be “confident” about going 8-2 in them.  If the Rays or Rangers sweep this week or take 3 out of 4, then the other team would have to go 10-0 or 9-1 the rest of the way to get to 91 wins which is a long shot.

I know everyone is most worried about the Indians and their “easy” schedule but writing them down in stone for 10-3 seems only slightly more absurd to me than writing us down for 12-1.  Even if you take the Indians’ winning percentages this season against their remaining opponents and generously round up in some cases, you still get 9-4.  They have an easier schedule, but they still need to continue to play very well against four teams they have already played very well against this season, which is easier said than done.

Not that I am arguing that the O’s have any real, non-dream scenario chance of going 12-1.  I am just pointing out that if they win a bunch of their final 13 games and play really well, the likelihood of still missing the playoffs keeps going further and further down.

I'd say 9-4 (.692 winning percentage) is playing "really well".  Here is what would have to happen (again, 2 out of these 5) for the O's not to at least earn a play-in game after going 9-4:

* Rays 7-7
* Rangers 7-7
* Indians 7-6
* Yankees 9-3
* Royals 10-3

Again, the Rays and Rangers are hurt by playing each other.  Even if they split, that still means 5-5 versus some non-roll over teams in the Orioles, Jays, Yankees, Royals and Angels.  The Yankees and Royals are still a real stretch even at that point.  The Royals play the Indians and Rangers this week so there is also a chance to those two teams canceling each other out.  The Yankees have three left versus the Rays.  It would be rather extraordinary for two of the six teams – given that some of the teams play each other over the final two weeks – to put together a real big winning streak, nonetheless for three teams to do so.

What it all comes down to is that the Orioles need to win games and as many as possible.  If they do put together a nice run (9-4 or so), they have a better shot than some might think.  If they don’t play well then of course they are going to need a lot of help.   There are certainly scenarios where the Orioles play very well and still miss out, but as I tried to show above those aren’t extremely likely.

Even after 149 games and all of the ups and downs, the O's 2013 destiny still largely rests in their own hands.