8/31-9/2 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Mailbag: A-Rod, Dice-K, Rule 5 Draft
The RAB Radio Show: August 31st, 2012
(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

The calendar is about to flip over to September, and the Yankees are going to play a meaningful series against the Orioles this weekend. This is madness, I tell you. New York leads Baltimore by three games in the loss column, so this is the biggest series of the year to date. The Yankees have won six of eleven against this weekend’s opponent so far this season.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Orioles just took three of four from the White Sox in Camden Yards, including a 5-3 win yesterday that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated. They outplayed the ChiSox massively. Baltimore has won five of their last six and they’re currently 72-58 with a -44 run differential. Fourth best record and third worst run differential in the league. Go figure.


(Rob Carr/Getty)

At 4.2 runs per game with a team 91 wRC+, the O’s are a slightly below league average offense. Their best player all season has been Adam Jones (125 wRC+), who set a career-high yesterday with his 26th homer. He also leads the team with a dozen steals, so this is the guy the Yankees can’t let beat them.

Nick Markakis (123 wRC+) has been thriving in the leadoff spot while J.J. Hardy (73 wRC+) has been one of the least productive everyday players in the game this year from the two-hole. Batting third these days is Pirates castoff Nate McLouth (68 wRC+ in limited time) ahead of Jones while Matt Wieters (97 wRC+) bats fifth behind him. The rest of the lineup is filled out by mostly platoon types, including Chris Davis (111 wRC+ vs. RHP), Mark Reynolds (117 wRC+ vs. LHP), and Lew Ford (159 wRC+ vs. LHP in very limited time).

Omar Quintanilla (91 wRC+) has already hurt the Yankees on more than one occasion (with more than one team) this season, and he’s taken over everyday second base duties with Brian Roberts hurt again. Hotshot prospect Manny Machado (95 wRC+) hit two homers in his second game as a big leaguers and hasn’t done anything since. Utility men Robert Andino (61 wRC+) and Ryan Flaherty (50 wRC+) join backup catcher Taylor Teagarden (31 wRC+) on the bench. It’s a flawed but effective offense, similar to what the Yankees employ these days.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez
The 28-year-old Gonzalez shut the Yankees down for a few innings in his fifth big league starts a couple of weeks ago, but they rallied for a four runs late and he left the game after 6.2 innings. Gonzalez has pitched to a 3.66 ERA (4.94 FIP) in 66.1 innings this season, though his peripherals are underwhelming: 6.65 K/9 (17.6 K%), 3.39 BB/9 (9.0 BB%), and 33.3% grounders. He’s a low-90s fastball/mid-80s slider guy who will mix in the occasional low-80s changeup, so it’s pretty generic stuff. Hopefully the Yankees will make some adjustments after seeing him a few weeks ago and go to town.

Don’t call me Bruce. (Leon Halip/Getty)

Saturday: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen
The Yankees beat Chen in his first career big league start back in April, hanging four runs on him in 5.2 innings. He returned the favor with a 7 IP, 2 R outing a few weeks later. The 27-year-old Taiwanese-born southpaw has been rock solid this year, posting a 3.78 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 157 innings. His strikeout (7.45 K/9 and 19.6 K%) and walk (2.81 BB/9 and 7.4 BB%) rates are solid, though he is fly ball prone (38.5% grounders). Chen is primarily a three-pitch guy, using a low-90s four-seamer to setup his low-80s slider and changeup. He will throw a handful of loopy, low-70s curveball per start. Chen has no platoon split whatsoever and again, the Yankees need to build off what he showed them earlier this year.

Sunday: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Chris Tillman
The Bombers have made a habit out of pounding Tillman in recent years, though he’s a different guy now. The 24-year-old has recovered from Missing Velocity Disease and owns a 3.26 ERA (4.08 FIP) in 58 innings since being recalled from Triple-A. Like Chen, the strikeout (7.29 K/9 and 19.3 K%) and walk (2.95 BB/9 and 7.8 BB%) rates are solid while the ground ball numbers (39.1%) could be better. The new version of Tillman — really the old version that just went missing for a few years — sits in the low-to-mid-90s with his four-seamer and cutter while also mixing in a low-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball. The Yankees scored five runs in five innings off Tillman earlier this season, but he’s coming off seven one-hit innings against the high-power ChiSox.

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Bullpen Status
Left-hander Zach Britton gave manager Buck Showalter eight strong innings yesterday, but both setup man Pedro Strop (3.24 FIP) and closer Jim Johnson (3.39 FIP) had to work in a hectic ninth. The Baltimore bullpen is completely fresh otherwise, with no relievers coming off back-to-back appearances or anything crazy like that.

Behind (or is it ahead of?) Strop and Johnson are former Yankee Luis Ayala (3.89 FIP) and right-handed specialist Darren O’Day (2.87 FIP). Former starter Brian Matusz (5.01 FIP) is now working out of the bullpen and once Randy Wolf (4.74 FIP) is activated today, Showalter will have a pair of southpaws who can go multiple innings at his disposal. Kevin Gregg (4.78 FIP) and the surprisingly effective Steve Johnson (3.60 FIP) round out the relief corps. With rosters expanding tomorrow, expect the Orioles to add a few more bullpen arms for the weekend.

The Yankees had Thursday off, so their bullpen is pretty fresh. Both David Robertson and Rafael Soriano have had two straight days off after working in three straight, so they should be available all weekend. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exactly usage details, and then check out Camden Crazies for the latest on the O’s.

Mailbag: A-Rod, Dice-K, Rule 5 Draft
The RAB Radio Show: August 31st, 2012
  • Kramerica Industries

    Needless to say, winning this series would be quite nice, especially with a four gamer in Baltimore looming next week.

    Take care of business here, and get some luck north of the border this weekend, and the Yankees will be in nice position for the Labor Day series with the Rays.

  • DERP

    Just my opinion, but I think JJ Hardy should work on getting his OBP above .280 instead of pushing NYY fans.


    • RetroRob

      Hardy should be concerned about being pushed off of SS sometime in 2013 by Machado. They rushed the kid, so a few months in AAA won’t hurt, but whenever Machado makes the team in 2013, be it opening day or in July, he should play short. Hardy should be pushed to third.

  • DERP
    • Anthony

      haha, awesome

  • RetroRob

    The Yankees will sweep this series.

    • Athenian

      2/3 at best. Only have 2 or 3 in the line up hitting right now. Everyone else is in such a funk that not striking out/popping up is a successful AB.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Yanks will sweep in two, in fact.

  • Better off Eddard

    We can take 2/3. Hiroki Kuroda is unbeatable at home. Not even the 98 Yankees could beat him in NYS. Tonight we should win. Then we split the Phelps and Garcia starts and we will have extended our lead. The top 3 bats need to produce. Buck stacked up on lefties because he knows we don’t have Alex to split them up so Cano, Granderson, Chavez, Ibanez might be stacked in the lineup.

  • mt

    Orioles have played well in YS3 recently – would be thrilled for Yanks to win 2 out of 3 especially with Garcia and Phelps starting and no Arod and no Tex.

    I have dreams of 2011 MVP candidates Cano or Granderson turning the clock back and stepping up and actually carrying us for a few games- what a dreamer – I saw results (wasn’t able to watch the game) of Wednesday’s game and was heartened to see that Granderson drove in 2 runs with a double but then I heard it was basically a Rajai Davis misplay and got depressed again.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    At this time we are better against righties than lefties. Thus, I am surprised that Buck did not throw 3 lefthanders against us.

  • Robert

    Russell Martin .197
    Jesus Montero .257

    I can’t take looking at the sad state of Yankee catchers on the MLB level!!!!

    • Better off Eddard

      We’ll definitely need to upgrade that position in the offseason. I’m sick of Martin and Kevin Long saying the same old same old, well he’s right on the cusp of breaking out he’s just hitting right at people. They’ve been saying that all year. If Andy comes back we should trade one of our young starters for a quality catcher.

    • DERP

      They are about even as hitters this season, even when adjusting for ballpark (Martin = 84 wRC+, Montero = 87 wRC+) . When you consider the fact that Montero DHs over half the time and is awful when he does catch, he has been less valuable this season than Martin.

      • RetroRob

        He’s just trolling, or at least I hope so. If not, he’s brain dead baseball wise.

        Montero is not a catcher, and overall the gap between Martin and Montero in team wins is 1.5 in favor of Martin. With the team only up by three games, any Yankee fan who wants to give back 1.5 wins isn’t a Yankee fan at all.

        • Kosmo

          In 45 games as a catcher Montero is hitting .298 W/ .497 SLG.

          Home at Safeco he´s hitting a meager .196
          Away .311

          anyway you want to spin it Martin has been a total bust this season. Montero still has a bright future.

          Sour grapes.

          • FIPster Doofus

            Is .225/.260/.344 against right-handed pitching sour grapes?

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              I need his numbers against right-handed pitchers as a catcher on the road away from Safeco first.

              • FIPster Doofus

                On sunny days or overcast ones?

            • JobaWockeeZ

              I love the double standard on SSS. Either use it or don’t.

          • DERP

            Nobody is talking about their futures. We only mentioned that Martin has been more valuable than Montero this year.

            Otherwise, great post!

  • River Ave Bipolar Disorder

    The O’s are disrespectful to Pythagoras.

    • Chilango

      But not as much as you might think: They have a great pen. They’re 57-0 when leading after 7. In 4 games in June and July, they were outscored 42-9. The Rangers beat them twice back in May for a by 27-6. This has skewed their run differential big time. And..their defense has been much better since the All-Star break so I hope the Yanks bring their A game tonight. They’re not practicing (and losing) in AAA anymore.

  • Tom

    FYI – Yankees apparently moved up Phelps to Saturday, Hughes Sunday. Garcia pushed back to the TB series.

    (Just reported on MLB Network)