Note: I was bored at work (figuring out what we’re all going to do next week) and thought I might do a preview for the upcoming series to outline the pitching matchups and post random stats. Seen something similar on various other SBN site and liked the idea.
The Texas Rangers come to Baltimore for a weekend series against the Orioles to end the first week of what has already been an interesting season. First off, the Red Sox were swept in two straight series (once by the Rangers) and sit at the bottom of AL East along with Tampa (also swept twice including three losses to your Baltimore Orioles). Second, the Orioles are among the top teams in the American League after sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays to start the season and following up with another series win against the Detroit Tigers. And finally, the Texas Rangers sit atop the AL West after a three game sweep of both the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners. You assumed they’d take a few from the Mariners, but a sweep of the pre-season World Series favorite? One thing is for certain: the Rangers can hit. The lineup is stocked from top to bottom even with 3B Adrian Beltre off to a relatively slow start at the plate. Additionally, much hoopla was made in the off-season about how the pitching staff just wasn’t going to cut it without re-signing Cliff Lee, but they have performed well in the first week. The roatation is now anchored by C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis, who will start in Game 1.
The Orioles will need the early pitching success to carry over through this series, as they’ll face their toughest test in the young season. Zach Britton will make just his second MLB start and will face a much tougher lineup here than he did in Tampa. Arrieta had a good start against Detroit on Monday, but must show that he can locate his pitches with more regularity. The team may also be without Sunday’s probable starter, Jeremy Guthrie, due to pneumonia. If this is the case, Chris Jakubauskas (otherwise known as Jack O’Boskie) will make a spot start. The good news in that story is that Guts has been released from the hospital and will be back in the rotation next week should he miss Sunday’s game. Continuing last night’s success at the plate won’t hurt the cause either.
Game 1 (Friday @ 7:05pm):
TEX – Colby Lewis (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
BAL – Zach Britton (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Lewis is a four pitch kind of player. Fastball generally hangs in the upper 80s but can get into the low 90s. Makes heavy use of a low 80s slider (accounts for nearly a quarter of his pitches) and keeps it away, especially to right-handed batters. Also utilizes a curve and a changeup. Not overpowering, but still posts excellent strikeout numbers, fanning over 8 batters per 9 innings in 2010.
The Baltimore lineup has few appearances against Colby Lewis, but J.J. Hardy has a double and 2 RBIs in 5 career ABs. Lewis is a career 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA against the Orioles.
Game 2 (Saturday @ 7:05pm):
TEX – Matt Harrison (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
BAL – Jake Arrieta (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
I’ll admit: I had no clue who this guy was before last week. In his start against the Red Sox last weekend, Harrison relied mostly on his fastball (both a 2- and 4-seamer) ranging from the low to mid 90s. Also throws a changeup and a cutter. According to Fangraphs, does not throw the slider or curve often.
Arrieta has gone 1-1 with 1.38 ERA in two starts versus the Rangers. Brian Roberts is one of just two players in the Oriole lineup with more ABs vs. Harrison than you can count on one hand. B-Rob had great success, going 3-6 with 2 RBI. Luke Scott is 0-2 with 2Ks in his career against Harrison. Mitch Moreland is off to a good start at the bottom of the Texas lineup. One of his two ABs last season vs. Arrieta left the park.
Game 3 (Sunday @ 1:35pm)
TEX – Derek Holland (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
BAL – Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
92-93 on his fastball. Also throws a slider and changeup. Takes a lot off of the slider, which is down in the mid 70s. Lefty comes in with the slider to righties, but generally stays away with the changeup.
Vlad Guerrero has 11 ABs versus Holland and mustered just two hits. Guthrie has held Adrian Beltre to a .091 BA in 22 ABs, but has not fared well with the remainder of the Texas lineup. Josh Hamilton has 2 HRs in 10 ABs and has a 1.700 career OPS. Michael Young has similar numbers, going 7-18 with 3 RBI. Should Jakubauskas start, it’ll be just his 10th career start. In his lone start for the Pirates last season, he lasted 2/3 of an inning, gave up two runs, and was tagged with the loss.