Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. Los Angeles Angels, 10-12 June 2013

USA TODAY Sports

After a salvaging a six-game road trip by avoiding a sweep by the Rays, the O's return to Camden Yards for seven games, starting with three against the Angels.

This road trip was a bit of a disappointment, and it didn't help that the one game the Orioles won against the Rays ended with some bullpen struggles. Perhaps a home series against the still-struggling Angels is what the team needs to get going again... but they'll face three pitchers with sub-4 ERAs, two under 3.2.

Monday, 10 June: Freddy Garcia vs. Jered Weaver
Career Numbers Garcia vs. Angels Weaver vs. O's
IP 202.2 62.0
ERA 2.66 2.76
FIP 3.21 3.01
Slash Line (Past Teams) .226/.277/.334 .218/.259/.329
Slash Line (Current Players) .280/.330/.516 .184/.200/.309

It's hard enough to feel optimistic about a Freddy Garcia start, but it's especially hard when the opposing pitcher is pretty good. Weaver has only made four starts this year thanks to some time on the DL, but his stats so far this year are right in line with his career norms. He's a flyball pitcher with good control - never posting a BB/9 greater than 2.82 - and relatively few of the flyballs he gives up leave the ballpark. He is a little more homer-prone on the road than in spacious Angel Stadium, however. Who knows? Maybe Freddy Garcia will surprise us with another good start, and it won't matter if the O's only score a couple of runs.

...No, I don't think so, either.

Maybe hot: Josh Hamilton (3 HR in 13 PA), Angels in general, Adam Jones (.833 OPS in 15 PA)

Likely not: Chris Davis (.464 OPS in 28 PA), J.J. Hardy (.133 OPS in 15 PA)

Tuesday, 11 June: Miguel Gonzalez vs. Jason Vargas
Career Numbers Gonzalez vs. Angels Vargas vs. O's
IP 13.0 49.0
ERA 2.77 1.65
FIP 4.86 3.50
Slash Line (Past Teams) .191/.224/.404 .218/.263/.330
Slash Line (Current Players) .214/.250/.452 .225/.266/.367

Jason Vargas is sort of a Jered Weaver -1, if you just look at his peripherals. He's still a flyball pitcher, his strikeout rate is a little lower, his walk rate is a little higher, and he's a bit more homer-prone. He is, however, a soft-tossing lefty, which basically means he's death on orange birds. You may remember that in his last encounter with the O's, on 3 May, he threw a three-hit shutout. Perhaps he won't fair as well in Baltimore as he did in Anaheim.

Miguel Gonzalez is flawed, but he's a lot better than Freddy Garcia, so this looks to be a pretty even pitching matchup. It's interesting to note that while Gonzalez's ERA has jumped from the low threes to low fours this year, most of his peripherals are marginally better than they were. In particular, his ground ball rate has soared from 34.9% to 44.4%; unfortunately, that has yet to be reflected in his HR/9. Hopefully, a little regression will bring his HR/FB% down towards the league average; he's currently a bit unlucky on that score.

Maybe hot: Mark Trumbo (2 HR in 6 PA)

Wednesday, 12 June: Jason Hammel vs. Jerome Williams
Career Numbers Hammel vs. Angels Williams vs. O's
IP 22.2 25.1
ERA 6.75 4.26
FIP 4.86 5.38
Slash Line (Past Teams) .319/.407/.426 .240/.315/.490
Slash Line (Current Players) .292/.400/.375 .250/.323/.464

As you can see from the numbers, Hammel has really struggled against the Angels in the past. For the most part, it's because of walks: ten in his three starts against them in '12 and '13. Hammel simply has not looked like the pitcher he was last year, and it's mostly due to a lack of command. His walk rate is actually about the same as in '12, but his strikeout rate has dropped from 8.62 to 6.39 K/9, and his home run rate has more than doubled, largely because he's no longer a groundball pitcher ('12: 53.2%, '13: 42.2%). He may be figuring it out, though: in three of his last four starts, he's given up two runs over 6.2 or more innings.

Jerome Williams has had a very up-and-down career, as he bounced around in the National League for a few years before injuries and ineffectiveness kept him in the minors for most of 2007 through 2011. He finally got back to pitching mostly in the majors last year, putting up pretty good control-and-grounders peripherals, but was stuck with an ugly ERA due to a high HR/FB rate. His numbers this year are harder to judge because he's made six starts and ten relief appearances, and his splits are the reverse of what I'd expect (higher strikeout rate as a starter?). Regardless, he has a sub-three ERA and decent peripherals overall. If there's a silver lining, it's that his one bad start this year was when he faced the Orioles in Anaheim on 5 May, surrendering five runs in 4.1 innings.

Weaver's Ninth Law: The key step for an infielder is the first one--to the left or right, but before the ball is hit.

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