Jul
30

7/30-8/1 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

By

Remember when Buck Showalter’s magic turned the Orioles into legitimate contenders? Since peaking at 27-14 in mid-May, Baltimore has gone 26-35 and sunk back into the middle of the AL East pack. They’re better than I thought they were coming into the season, but the O’s seem to have mastered the art of the hot start and midseason fade.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Orioles just lost two of three to those powerhouse Athletics and have lost five of seven overall. At 53-49, they are tied with the Rays for second place in the AL East, eight back of the Yankees in the loss column. Their -58 run differential is the fourth worst in the AL.

Offense

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

With an average of 4.2 runs per game, Baltimore somewhat surprisingly is a bottom five offense in the AL. I thought they were much better for some reason. Adam Jones (134 wRC+) has been their best player by a large margin this season, and he ranks ninth in the AL with 24 dingers. Nick Markakis (114 wRC+) provides solid support, and lately he’s been batting leadoff as Showalter tries to find someone to ignite the offense.

The Orioles added a big bat in Jim Thome (118 wRC+ vs. RHP), their regular DH against righties. They tend to rotate against lefties. J.J. Hardy (69 wRC+) and Matt Wieters (96 wRC+) fill out the top five of the lineup while Chris Davis (103 wRC+) and Wilson Betemit (93 wRC+) provide some depth at the bottom of the order. Baltimore just recalled Lew Ford (!) after he hadn’t appeared in the big leagues since 2007, and he went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first game yesterday. Can’t believe that guy is back in the show. Seriously.

The bench is filled out with the likes of backup catcher Taylor Teagarden (-18 wRC+ in limited action), infielder Ryan Flaherty (47 wRC+), and outfielder Endy Chavez (23 wRC+). The recently acquired Omar Quintanilla (124 wRC+ in limited time) is now playing second base regularly with Brian Roberts and Robert Andino both injured. The Orioles have hit the third most homers in baseball (127), so they’ll make you pay when you make a mistake.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez
A former Rule 5 Draft pick of the Red Sox, the 28-year-old Gonzalez has pitched to a 4.28 ERA (5.51 FIP) in four starts and three relief appearances since making his big league debut earlier this season. The strikeout rate is solid (7.49 K/9 and 19.1 K%), but the walk (4.28 BB/9 and 10.9 BB%), homer (1.60 HR/9), and ground ball (35.7%) rates all leave a lot to be desired. Gonzalez is a five-pitch guy, using low-90s fastballs (two and four-seamer) to setup his low-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and upper-70s curveball. The curve and two-seamer are scarcely used fourth and fifth offerings, however.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Tuesday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Chris Tillman
The Yankees have seen an awful lot of Tillman through the years — they’ve tagged him for a .394/.468/.532 line in five career starts and he also surrendered the single that pushed Derek Jeter past Lou Gehrig for the franchise’s all-time hits record. He’s pitched to a shiny 1.77 ERA (3.35 FIP) in four starts since returning from Triple-A, with career best strikeout (7.06 K/9 and 18.3 K%) and homer (0.42 HR/9) rates. The walk (3.74 BB/9 and 9.7 BB%) and ground ball (36.4%) numbers are in line with his career norms. Tillman, 24, has gotten some velocity back and now sits in the low-to-mid-90s with the four-seamer. He also throws a low-80s cutter, a low-80s changeup, and an upper-70s curveball. This isn’t the same guy we saw over the last few seasons.

Wednesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Zach Britton
After missing the start of the season with a shoulder issue, the 24-year-old Britton has pitched to a 5.74 ERA (5.82 FIP) in three starts since returning. He’s walked more batters than he’s struck out (11 BB and 8 K) with a dynamite 66.0% ground ball rate in just 15.2 innings. Britton’s break-and-butter is a power low-90s sinker that is legitimately one of the best sinkers in baseball. He’ll also mix in a four-seamer at the same velocity with the requisite low-80s slider and low-80s changeup. The Yankees saw Britton a few times last year, but there are only so many adjustments you can make against a sinker-slider type.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Bullpen Status
Although Wei-Yin Chen failed to complete six innings yesterday, the Orioles don’t have a single reliever who’s pitched in each of the last two days. Setup man Pedro Strop (3.46 FIP) and middle guy/former Yankee Luis Ayala (4.00 FIP) both threw an inning yesterday, as did righty specialist Darren O’Day (3.12 FIP). Lefty specialist Troy Patton (3.53 FIP) recorded an out as well. Closer Jim Johnson (3.83 FIP) hasn’t pitched since a massive meltdown two days ago, but he’ll be fine. He’s really good. Righties Kevin Gregg (4.31 FIP) and Matt Lindstrom (3.58 FIP) fill out the rest of the bullpen.

Despite the extra innings loss yesterday, the Yankees are in pretty good shape in the bullpen. Rafael Soriano has appeared in two straight games but only needed eight pitches last night. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact usage details, and check out Camden Crazies for some fantastic Orioles coverage.

Ticket Info

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  • 7/31 vs Baltimore: Save 53% and offer $52 for 3-star seats (List price: $110.64)
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Categories : Series Preview
  • The Real Greg

    The slide for the Orioles this year has been gradual, unlike the 2005 Orioles who nose dived off the map after the ASB.

    Expectation: 2-3 but want to sweep

  • jjyank

    +1 for not needing to run my xbox for 3 hours to watch the game. Hopefully the MASN announcers aren’t too bad.

    • DERP

      If the announcers are Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer, then you are set.

      If the announcers are Jim Hunter and Mike Bordick, then you’re screwed.

      • jjyank

        Thanks for the heads up. Hopefully I get lucky.

  • Klemy

    I never get tired of that video clip.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Talk about disrespecting Flanny!

  • Bavarian Yankee

    anything but a sweep would be a disappointment.

  • JonS

    That picture is awesome!

  • Darren

    One of the biggest cheers at the old Yankee Stadium was when Buck got introduced before Game 1 of the Mariners ALDS series in ’95. Seriously, it was huge, topped only by Donnie Baseball’s intro, and Donnie’s dinger. I don’t think it got any louder, even for the Leyritz walk-off.

    Anyway, I forgive Buck for his annoying act as Orioles manager. I just want to sweep and stop all the stupid talk. And don’t let any bad thoughts creep in…. Ok, fine, they’re already there. Hope we can cruise into the playoffs. Do not want a race this year at all.

  • DERP

    Matt Wieters as a below average hitter surprises me.

  • DERP

    Rough start for Ty in his debut.

  • pat

    A nice cathartic ass kicking would be wonderful.

  • Athenian

    2 of 3 would be sufficient. Preferably winning the first two and then hedging the bets on the Wed game. That would be a 1 game pick up on the Orioles.

    A’s will take 2-3 from the Rays so that could be a 2 game pick up on the Rays.

    After that, the rest of the division is just there for our enjoyment – Sox lose 2-3 to the Tigers who will no doubt start a surge ONLY because they have the Yankees coming up next week. Just how it works out.

  • DERP

    Mark Reynolds is always good for some laughs. I’m sure most people have seen this picture.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/not/w.....eds-AP.jpg

  • JohnnyC

    Cliff Lee back to the future with Rangers? Not sure either party will be that thrilled by this reunion.

    • MannyGeee

      @Buster_ESPN:

      Yankees not expected to be in the mix in the Cliff Lee talks, because they don’t have budget space to get involved.

      WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA????!?!??!?! What is this “Budget” thing you speak of?

      1. Yankees trade for Cliff Lee, causing NOlan Ryan to do this: http://thesportsgeeks.com/wp-c.....anFace.jpg

      2. Cliff Lee begrudgedly waives his (presumed) NTC to go play for the Yankees

      3. Cliff Lee shows up to Yankee Stadium to find a bunch of “Over the Hill” balloons and walkers and Rascals and shit in the locker room, all orchestrated by Nick Swisher

      4. MannyGee dies a happy man….

      • jjyank

        Hahaha I approve of all of this.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      The Rangers could probably get Beckett for less than Lee would cost.

      If anyone could set that punk straight, I’d put my money on Nolan Ryan.

  • Eddard

    This is a big series for us to win. The division is essentially over. The Os would have to sweep to make it interesting. They avoid our 2 best starters so hopefully the offense can carry the club. Robbie Cano needs to get back on track. As he goes so does the offense.

  • Boys of Summer

    Am I the only one who doesn’t get cashman at all???? Lee is a no brainer and he can always be traded in the offseason. The yanks will win this division and lose in the first round again! Rangers take chances…Yankees do nothing!!!!!

    • MannyGeee

      ZOMGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      No way can they get Lee and fit under the $189 cap for 2014 and 2015 unless the get rid of 2/3 from the Granderson/Swisher/Cano group and with no internal candidates to replace any of them, I think they’d have to pass on Lee.

      Besides, he rejected the Yankees last year when all he would cost was money. Now he’ll cost a boat load of prospect AND money. Screw that.

    • Morgan

      What? Lee is certainly not a no brainer if you are making intelligent decisions. He was worth his cost thus far in the contract, but he is regressing this year and I wouldn’t take on that huge contract to get his down years. The Phillies would be smart to swap their new contract to Hamels for Lee’s – give the younger guy the money and ship out the older one. They would have gotten the best years of the deal from Lee and ship him off before he becomes a burden.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    2 of 3 would be acceptable though they should really be able to sweep this team.

  • FreeAgentID

    Good luck Yankees!