On this point: Dalbec had a rough first series against the O's, going 0/10 with a BB and 5 Ks (50% K rate), but since then: .314/.368/.486, with three BB and 12 Ks in 38 PAs (32% K rate).A lot will depend on whether they sustain their hot start. But given the strength of the lineup, the competence of the starting rotation, the effectiveness of the bullpen, and the organizational depth, I think this is shaping up into a contention year.
If Erod had looked rusty, or Pivetta imploded, or Whitlock seemed out of his depth, or Barnes was having a bad year, or JD looked cooked. . .we'd be having a different conversation maybe.
But thus far all the coin flips seem to be heads, except maybe Dalbec - but he's shown signs of life lately.
Crucially, that fast stabilizing K rate has fallen to 35 percent overall, which is probably playable.