Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles @ Arizona Diamondbacks, 12-14 August 2013

Thearon W. Henderson

After going 4-1 in two series against the NL West, the Orioles depart California to finish their road trip with three games in Arizona.

So far, so good: five games against the NL West, four wins, even if some of them haven't been as smooth or easy as we'd like. With the Rays and Red Sox finally losing some games, the O's have gained in the division standings, but Texas's surge (9-1 over their last ten games) has kept the O's from reclaiming a wild card position.

The Diamondbacks started off strong this year, their .556 winning percentage through May matching the Orioles' for the season, but they had a losing June and have played .500 ball since. Former Oriole David Hernandez was just optioned on Saturday, struggling this season (perhaps getting unlucky) after two years as an excellent reliever after being traded for Mark Reynolds.

Monday, 12 August: Scott Feldman @ Wade Miley
Career Numbers Feldman vs Arizona Miley vs. O's
IP 11.2 -
ERA 5.40 -
FIP 4.47 -
Slash Line (Past Teams) .255/.286/.468 -
Slash Line (Current Players) .203/.278/.344 .000/.000/.000 (3 PA)

Feldman has not been great for the O's in his six starts, posting a 5.70 ERA thus far, and he didn't even make it through five innings last time. Maybe the extra rest since that last start (3 August) will help him, but maybe it won't: in his career as a starter, he's got a 5.68 ERA when on six-plus days' rest. That is, of course, in less than a season's worth of innings, so it doesn't mean much. If there's a silver lining to Feldman's performance to date, it's that he's got a 3.93 FIP and 4.18 xFIP to go along with that ugly ERA, suggesting he's been getting at least a little unlucky.

Miley has never faced the Orioles, and on the current roster, has seen only Steve Pearce for a trio of at-bats. He's having a solid but unspectacular year, with a 3.56 ERA but peripherals that suggest an ERA closer to four. He has, however, been on quite a roll lately, having given up three or fewer runs in each of his last nine starts. That makes him sound a bit better than he's been, though, as he really struggled in May and hasn't had impressive K:BB ratios. Of course, he's a lefty, but at least he's not too much of a soft-tosser, sitting 90-92.

Maybe hot: Cliff Pennington (1.015 OPS, 20 PA)

Likely not: Aaron Hill (.472 OPS, 20 PA)

Tuesday, 13 August: Miguel Gonzalez @ Randall Delgado
Career Numbers Gonzalez vs. Arizona Delgado vs. O's
IP - 8.0
ERA - 2.25
FIP - 1.97
Slash Line (Past Teams) - .130/.160/.217
Slash Line (Current Players) .214/.214/.429 .231/.231/.385

Gonzalez had a nice rebound start against San Diego, in which he held the Padres scoreless until allowing a three-run homer in the sixth. Chase Field is not as forgiving an environment for flyball pitchers as Petco, but if Miguel can post an 8:2 K:BB ratio again, that'll certainly help his cause. He's never faced the Diamondbacks, and current players have just 14 PA against him, so there's little to be gleaned there. Hopefully Gonzalez has regained his command to the degree that his previous start would suggest, because the O's are going to need him to at least keep them in games down the stretch.

Delgado faced the O's once in 2012, a game in which he pitched quite well, but his then-teammates on the Braves couldn't score any runs off of Wei-Yin Chen. Despite that game, current O's only have fourteen PA against him, and two of those are Chen's; he hasn't faced Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Manny Machado, or Nate McLouth. A top-100 prospect coming into 2012, Delgado's shown great improvement in control in limited action this year, with a walk rate of just 1.67 batters per nine innings. He has a 3.48 ERA across ten starts, though much like Miley, his peripherals suggest a bit of luck or help from Arizona's fielders.

Wednesday, 14 August: Chris Tillman @ Patrick Corbin
Career Numbers Tillman vs. Arizona Corbin vs. O's
IP - -
ERA - -
FIP - -
Slash Line (Past Teams) - -
Slash Line (Current Players) .229/.229/.371 .333/.333/.333 (3 PA)

After a rough start against Seattle, Tillman recovered to set a new career high in strikeouts against the Giants, K'ing nine while walking just one (and, of course, allowing a solo homer). He's actually picked up the strikeout rate over his last five starts, striking out at least five per game and totalling 34 in 34.1 IP. That'll certainly help cement the #StaffAce label for him.

Now in his sophomore season, Corbin has, unsurprisingly, never faced the Orioles, and those 3 PA above are once again against Steve Pearce. He has an impressive 2.36 ERA, and while his peripherals suggest an ERA in the low threes, that's still quite good for someone with just forty big-league starts. Like Miley, Corbin's a lefty, but Corbin throws a little harder, his fastball usually sitting 92-93. None of his stats jump out as a particular weakness, even if his LOB% and HR/FB% are due for some regression, as righties are just bad against him (as opposed to lefties, who are downright terrible).

I don't know if I said ten words to Frank Robinson while he played for me. I didn't have to. ...The same holds true for Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, and Lee May. With these guys I might have shared a joke or two in an airplane, but in the clubhouse there were no words, no private conversations, nothing. I wrote their names in the lineup, and they played to the best of their ability. - Earl Weaver

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