This guest post was submitted to BSR by Carl Sumner. Interested in contributing a guest post to BSR? Send us an email:

Opening Day is just weeks away and if you listen to the experts, Orioles’ fans should just start finding other ways to entertain themselves this summer. Pecota, one of the supposed “End-all, Be-alls” in baseball analytics predicts 70 wins for our Birds, but this time who can blame them?

The 2017 pitching staff had the worst ERA in the majors last year at 5.70 runs per game. Some may point to the losses of Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley as “additions by subtraction” and that may be true, but somebody has to pitch. Picking up a tenacious guy like Andrew Cashner certainly could help. He has to be an upgrade over Ubaldo and Miley and boasted a decent 2017 record over the AL East. Chris Tillman is back on a one-year deal, and Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are back, too. Folks, that’s only 4 starters, and that quartet would likely be #3 and 4 starters on most playoff teams.

Adding to the pitching woes, arguably the teams best players — Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop — appear to be on a one way ticket out of town to some big market cities like New York, LA, or Boston. In Manny’s case, it could be before the team runs down the orange carpet on Opening Day.

Their two big power guys – Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo are coming back from very forgettable seasons. The two sluggers struck out a combined 344 times and hit a combined 49 home runs which was two less than Trumbo hit himself in 2016. Davis seemingly looked a called strike three at least once a game.

The bullpen, always a stalwart under the Showalter-Duquette reign, took a big blow with the loss of Zach Britton for at least the first 2 months of the season.

If you read the Pecota analysis and followed the 2017 season and offseason, you’ve got to be thinking – all hope is lost.

But is it…

What if…

What if Dylan Bundy is finally 100 percent healthy and back to strength after a series of arm issues and he lives up to that 2011 4th overall pick hype?

What if Kevin Gausman, still at a young age 27, figures it out and lives up to his 2012 4th overall pick hype?

What is Chris TIllman goes back to being the pre-2017 Chris TIllman that anchored the staff that went to the playoffs in 2014 and 2016?

What if Andrew Cashner serves admirably as the #3 or 4 starter?

What if former AL East pitcher Alex Cobb, who is still without a contract, comes into town on a late offseason “Dan Duquette Special” and has something to prove to the other teams that passed up on him?

What if Manny, in a contract year, does what the whole baseball world thinks he’s capable of and wins the AL MVP?

What if Jonathon Schoop just keeps being Jonathon Schoop, one of the bright young stars in baseball?

What if Britton bounces back earlier than expected (he’s said to be way ahead of schedule) and the rest of the bullpen is rejuvenated because Miley and Ubaldo are being bounced from the game in the first few innings?

What if Adam Jones puts the team on his back, one last time, and this team does the unexpected?

It could happen…

Admittedly, there are lot of “Ifs” in my equation – way more than with the other expected playoff teams in the American League – but every year, some team seems to come out of no where and defy expectations.

WHAT IF this year, it’s the Orioles?