Remember when the O's were one game back of Boston and had put some distance between themselves and the Yankees? That was fun. Now, the birds are back in Baltimore, and Mark Reynolds's new team is coming to town. How many homers will he hit?
Monday, 24 June: Zach Britton vs. Ubaldo Jimenez
|Career Numbers||Britton vs. Indians||Jimenez vs. O's|
|Slash Line (Past Teams)||.273/.313/.409||-|
|Slash Line (Current Players)||.440/.516/.660||.186/.197/.407|
I still don't understand what Ubaldo Jimenez is doing with the Indians, but that's neither here nor there. He'll be the first of the former aces that Cleveland will send out to face the O's this week. While Jimenez boasts a good strikeout rate (8.71 K/9), he's also giving up lots of walks (4.66 BB/9) and home runs (1.23 HR/9). Taking advantage of those tendencies - say, with an Earl Weaver Special or two - would be a nice way for the O's to rebound.
Whether Buck thought Zach looked good last week or is just desperate to find a viable starter, he's getting the ball tonight. He did pretty well results-wise, especially considering he was facing Detroit, but he'll need to improve the strikeout-to-walk ratio (1:3 in that start) going forward if he wants to stick around.
Tuesday, 25 June: Chris Tillman vs. Justin Masterson
|Career Numbers||Tillman vs. Indians||Masterson vs. O's|
|Slash Line (Past Teams)||.300/.333/.500||.257/.321/.353|
|Slash Line (Current Players)||.229/.289/.371||.267/.326/.382|
Masterson is having himself a pretty good year, posting a career-high strikeout rate (9.11 K/9) while getting as many groundballs (57.0% GB%) as ever. He does walk enough guys to get himself in trouble (3.56 BB/9), though, so some combination of patience and hitting it where they ain't will probably be required for success against him.
Chris Tillman had a bit of a rough time in his start against Detroit, allowing three runs in five innings and, like Britton, walking three but only striking out one. That said, since he gave up seven hits as well, it's impressive (or simply bizarre) that he managed to avoid surrending any more runs. Genuinely impressive - or at least relieving - is that he's been a lot less homer-prone lately, giving up none in his last two starts, and one each in the prior two.
Likely not: Nick Markakis (.462 OPS, 25 PA)
Wednesday, 26 June: Jason Hammel vs. Scott Kazmir
|Career Numbers||Hammel vs. Indians||Kazmir vs. O's|
|Slash Line (Past Teams)||.280/.342/.480||.281/.363/.463|
|Slash Line (Current Players)||.280/.372/.480||.349/.417/.558|
Yes, Scott Kazmir is back in the majors, and he's posting peripherals (9.00 K/9 vs. 3.34 BB/9) not seen since his days with the (then-"Devil") Rays. However, he has a 5.37 ERA, because he's giving up home runs faster than Chris Tillman and has an ugly .341 BABIP. Whether that's just poor luck, or the result of throwing too many mistake pitches, is hard to say.
If he were having a better year, Jason Hammel's last start would just seem like a tough-luck loss. He struck out seven, walked just one, and gave up four hits over six innings, but two of those hits cleared the fences, and he ended up surrendering four runs. He did look better in that start than he has in a while, but it's awfully tough to get one's hopes up for Hammel's starts at this point.
Maybe hot: Drew Stubbs (1.143 OPS, 14 PA), Nick Swisher (1.000 OPS, 14 PA), Nick Markakis (1.304 OPS, 24 PA)
Likely not: Mark Reynolds (.432 OPS, 12 PA)
Thursday, 27 June: Miguel Gonzalez vs. Corey Kluber
|Career Numbers||Gonzalez vs. Indians||Kluber vs. O's|
|Slash Line (Past Teams)||.268/.362/.512||-|
|Slash Line (Current Players)||.130/.200/.174||-|
Kluber spent most of six seasons in the minor leagues before getting a dozen starts in the majors last year, but the results didn't match his peripherals. In 2013, after a poor spring, he was stuck in the minors until Brett Myers got injured. He's pitching like a front-of-rotation stud, posting a 3.68 ERA (which may be inflated, due to his high .327 BABIP and 15.0% HR/FB rate) and great peripherals (8.75 K/9, 1.65 BB/9). It'd be awfully nice if an Oriole pitching prospect did something like that.
Instead, we have Miguel Gonzalez - not that I'm complaining in this case. There were a lot of concerns about whether or not he'd be able to repeat his success from last year, but so far, Gonzalez has arguably been the O's most consistent starter. Right now, his peripherals are practically identical to last year's: 6.50 K/9 (2012: 6.58), 2.98 BB/9 (2.99), 1.21 HR/9 (1.11), and even his .250 BABIP (.260). Looking at those numbers, it's almost like Jeremy Guthrie is still on the team.
I do not believe in teaching infielders to cheat by making the phantom tag at second. ...You leave yourself wide open to be hurt by an umpire's call, and I hate to be in that precarious situation. I want the umps to call the game as clean and as strict as they can; that's what I keep reminding them from the dugout. I don't want any team to get away with that phantom tag against me, so I make sure my fielders don't use it. That's a part of fundamentals, too. - Earl Weaver