Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will have surgery on his knee next week and is expected to be out for the rest of the season, according to reports. Machado’s injury is a devastating blow to the first-place Orioles, and is the 22-year-old’s second consecutive surgery in as many seasons. Machado was placed on the DL Aug. 12 with a sprained right knee after awkwardly falling during a swing against the New York Yankees. Machado was batting .278 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs in 82 games this season, and was just beginning to find his swing before getting hurt.
The news is a tough break for the Orioles, who will continue its playoff push without its top defender and youngest star. It concludes a tumultuous and frustrating season for Machado, who began the season on the DL while rehabbing his knee injury from the previous year. Manny struggled throughout May and June, culminating in a five-game suspension after a bat-throwing incident against the Oakland Athletics on June 8. After returning from his suspension, Machado began to settle into a groove and find his swing, resulting in a .333 batting average in July and a .378 average in the beginning of August.
So, how can the Orioles overcome the crucial loss of one of its best players? Baltimore still has the bats to be productive in the absence of Machado, but the void left in the field without his glove cannot be replaced. Nobody on the Orioles, or in the MLB for that matter, can make the plays that Machado does with his glove and arm. Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty will likely split time over at third base, but neither are as consistent and effective as Machado. Orioles hitters like Davis, J.J. Hardy and Steve Pearce will need to increase their offensive efforts to compensate for the lack of Manny’s bat in the lineup.
I don’t think that this injury will completely derail the Orioles and send them into a downward spiral. Baltimore has gone 26-18 in games without Machado this season. This team is still good enough to win the division and make the playoffs. However, right as the Orioles began to sneak into the conversation about World Series contenders, they must take a step back and re-evaluate their expectations. With catcher Matt Wieters also out for the season, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been if Baltimore’s key players had stayed healthy. Only time will tell how the O’s respond to this heartbreaking news.