Whatever Zach Britton was looking at in this picture, it's probably not good. Hopefully he has better fortune against the worst offense in the AL, Seattle's, tonight. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Strap yourselves in, ladies and gentlemen, because a matchup between Blake Beavan of the Mariners and Zach Britton of the Orioles on a fairly warm and humid August night in Baltimore could mean we're in for a slugfest - even with these two offenses, among the five worst in baseball.
Beavan sports a 5.06 ERA in 16 starts, and he's only averaging barely more than 5 IP per game started. Yikes. That would have been perfect in the Orioles rotation last year, wouldn't it? A cursory look at his statistics and you can see where there might be a problem: his K/9 is only 4.76, so there are a lot of balls going in play. There are also some balls going out of play, like the fourteen home runs he has allowed. Beavan is a righty, and left-handed batters are .291/.321/.503 off of him this season. The O's lineup has four lefties and two switch-hitters tonight. That could be a good omen, maybe.
One thing that's not a good omen is Britton. Simply put, he has not looked like a major league pitcher in his few outings of 2012. He has looked like his career could be on the trajectory of other disappointing pitchers like Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta. After his last disastrous outings, there were rumblings that he might be riding that Norfolk shuttle, but here he is again tonight. One game shouldn't send him to the minors, just as one game shouldn't save him. On the other hand, if he sucks tonight, the rumblings could get louder and he may find himself being replaced.
Jesus Montero of the Mariners has the 5th-best batting average against LHP of all AL batters. So there is probably the most dangerous name for Britton tonight. The Seattle offense doesn't have a lot of dangerous names, though everyone is dangerous to a Britton who can't locate anything, or who can't get his sinker to sink, or whatever. The Mariners have exactly one batter with an OBP above .315, and that's John Jaso, who's not playing tonight.
The level of offensive futility of this team is remarkable - no wonder Chris Tillman dominated them in his last two starts. Maybe Britton can get right against them and carry that forward into his next start. Or maybe he will get lit up like fireworks on New Year's Eve and find himself back in AAA faster than you can say "AAAA!"
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||SEATTLE MARINERS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Dustin Ackley - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Trayvon Robinson - LF|
|Chris Davis - DH||Michael Saunders - CF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Jesus Montero - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Kyle Seager - 3B|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Casper Wells - RF|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Mike Carp - 1B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Miguel Olivo - C|
|Omar Quintanilla - 2B||Munenori Kawasaki - SS|