Opening Day at Camden Yards is finally upon us. Hopefully you've got your tickets, your popcorn, and your cracker jacks ready to go because it won't last long. Just three games at home before jetting off to Boston for the Fenway Park home opener against the Red Sox. Regarding the opening series in Tampa, what interested you most? The Chris Davis fireworks display? The required Brian Roberts injury? The bullpen....issues?
5 April, 3:05pm: Liam Hendriks @ Jake Arrieta
|Career Numbers||Hendriks vs. Orioles||Arrieta vs. Twins|
Hendriks was less than impressive as a starter for the Twins last year - his first "full" season, if you will. Pitching to a 1-8 record, the Aussie recorded an ERA of 5.59 and a nearly identical 5.57 FIP. This will be his first start against Baltimore, although Russ Canzler has faced him before (incidentally, Canzler has two hits, including a home run, and 3 RBI against Hendriks). Hendriks fared better at home last season, allowing a nearly .400 OBP on the road. He features a low 90s fastball, a slider, curve, and change. All three breaking/off-speed pitches were used with similar frequency. The curveball is his strikeout pitch and probably his best offering. Opposing hitters feasted upon his slider to the tune of a 1.182 OPS.
Jake Arrieta will make his second straight home opener start for the O's (and his second straight against the Twins). This year, however, he'll be going as the 4th starter and not the first! He's had pretty good success against the Twins in his career (obviously SSS), allowing just 5 ER in 3 starts totalling 17 innings. He throws hard, keeps the ball down, and appears to pitch better than his ERA generally shows. If he keeps the walks to a minimum, he could enjoy greater success.
6 April, 7:05pm: Vance Worley @ Chris Tillman
|Career Numbers||Worley vs. Orioles ||Tillman vs. Twins
Vance Worley comes to Minnesota via a trade for OF Ben Revere and steps in as the "ace" of the relatively inexperienced staff. He's faced the O's once in his career and did so as a member of the Phillies. In that game, he did not allow an ER over 6 innings pitched, although 3 total runs were scored. Worley is by no means over-powering, possessing a fastball averaging under 90 MPH. He relies mostly on a fastball-slider combo, but also utilizes a curve and change. Has a 32 percent strikeout rate with his two-seam fastball.
Chris Tillman is expected to be activated from the 15-day DL in order to start this game. He has struggled a bit in three career starts against Minnesota (note 12.2 innings over THREE starts). He'll be looking to build on the successful turn-around from last season. While FIP didn't like the season so much, Chris posted the best K/9, BB/9, and ERA of his career. BABIP was another question, however, so this will an interesting case to follow this season. Depending on where you look, Tillman could either be a huge sleeper at the back-end of an underrated rotation or he could be due for significant regression. Let's hope for option A, shall we?
7 April, 1:35pm: Cole DeVries @ Jason Hammel
|Career Numbers||DeVries vs. Orioles ||Hammel vs. Twins
DeVries was expected to slide into the 3rd starter role, but a forearm injury sidelined him for a few days. He started 16 games for the Twins last season, amassing a 5-5 record. In one start against the O's last season, he allowed 1 ER, a solo home run to....you guessed it, Chris Davis, on 5 hits over 6 innings. Not a big strikeout guy, but when he does strike you out, it was probably a slider. Hitters have had the best success against his two-seamer and changeup. Utilizes a high-80s fastball, slider, change, and curve.
Hammel has had good success against Minnesota in his career. In four starts, he's allowed just 5 earned runs. He did not face Minnesota while a member of the Colorado Rockies, so three of those four starts were several years ago. He was a bit rough in his first start on Tuesday, but he's primed to build on last year's break out season.
Maybe hot: Josh Willingham (1.212 OPS, 12 PA) against Hammel