Previewing the Baltimore Orioles | The Process Report

Previewing the Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles come down to St. Pete in the midst of a run I think we’re all familiar with. At the end of the series they will have played their 20th consecutive game, and boy, do they look it. It’s awfully tough to play every single day without a breather, but the Rays have their worst stretches in the rearview mirror, while the Orioles fade on fumes. Add in injuries to a couple of key players and you can only imagine the level of frustration in that clubhouse and fanbase. This is yet another series that the Rays absolutely need to take. A sweep would be the cherry on the sundae.

While most folks know what a disaster the pitching has been for the O’s, and I’ll get to that in a sec, the batters have not held up their end of the deal, either. In a similar number of plate appearances over the last 30 days they have walks a lot less, struck out a whole lot more, and somehow that hasn’t translated to better batted ball outcomes and expectations. The Rays are currently just above an average offense, but the Orioles have been one of the worst in the league over this time.

While a core injury to Chris Davis has created a better opportunity for the unsung Trey Mancini this is a lineup that doesn’t really have a breakout guy right now. Seth Smith will hit righties, but without a lefty starter the Rays won’t be able to put him on the bench until late in games, if ever. Manny Machado is the type of hitter that can get sun corona hot at the drop of a hat, but he hasn’t been his scorching self of late. If Jonathan Schoop beats you then that is on you. The lack of lefties will mean plenty of Hyun Soo Kim who has been more average than good, and the catchers haven’t done a thing. This team can punish mistakes, but every single one of these guys can be handled if you can keep your pitches in good places. The lack of walks should make that an easier go of things.

Comparing the expected wOBA on balls in play from above to actual outcomes tells us that Schoop is seeing much better results than he should, but they have a few players that go the other way. Machado, Smith, and Kim all should be seeing better results, but for whatever reason the ball hasn’t been falling in. Let’s keep it that way.

Moving over to the pitchers you can see just how bad Baltimore has been over this stretch. They walk too many, they strikeout too few, and they’re also giving up some horrendously hard hit balls to boot. The Rays haven’t exactly ran away with anything, but they’re solidly in the middle of the pack. Average is fine when you’re playing worse, but with their offensive capability ready to fire at any moment the Rays pitchers will really need to be on their game. It’s ok to miss good. Missing bad would not be advisable.

With the bar being so high it is hard to say the Orioles pen is as good as ever, but it’s still really freaking good. They may also get all world closer Zach Britton back for part or all of this series, as well. Same for Darren O’Day. The problem is evident. Their starters have been woefully bad. Tillman hasn’t seemed right all year. Gausman and Miley both walk too many guys, and the former is allowing too hard of contact while the latter is closer to league average. Alec Asher has been a savvy pickup for peanuts, but he seems to lose steam as the game wears on. Perhaps that is fine with such a well-stocked pen, but after this stretch of games it is hard to believe those guys have a whole lot left in the tank.

Here we can see that Asher’s bright spot has remained a bit hidden by some unfortunate occurrences on balls in play, but their best relievers, Brach and Givens, have more than made up for it. Each of the three bad starters have somehow been even worse than expectations. Even if they regress you’re not looking at whole lot that gives you the shivers.

Tampa Bay has gone 22-16 in their last 12 series, in which, they’ve gone 8-1-3. That’s good enough to make up some ground, but they’re going to have to find another gear with an enormous pack of hounds nipping at their heels. Add in the drunk partygirls ahead in the standings who seem so close, and you can see why this is such a big series. Add in that the Orioles have some Harvey Dent going on as they win two out of three at home, but lose two out of three on the road, and the Rays really have no excuse for not winning this series. If they want to ensure that ground will be made up they will need to take all three. Let’s see it. Here’s my projections for each game, though final lineups are unknown so these will have to suffice:

Game 1

 

Game 2

Game 3



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