Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 29-30 April 2014

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After losing a series to the Royals, the O's finish up the brief homestand with a pair of games against the Pirates.

A two-game series? Against a National League team? With off-days bracketing it? This is already weird.

Tuesday, 29 April: Chris Tillman vs. Charlie Morton
Tillman Morton
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 206.1 32.0 116.0 31.0
ERA 3.71 3.38 3.26 4.35
FIP 4.42 4.37 3.60 4.64
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .241/.303/.427 .242/.297/.398 .261/.339/.344 .261/.353/.383

Tillman finally had a bad start his last time out, giving up seven runs (including three homers) in a slugfest at Toronto's Rogers Centre. However, he still managed to pitch 5.2 innings, and after giving up six of those runs in the second inning, he limited further damage, allowing the Orioles' offense to make a big comeback. Despite that start, his ERA is still very respectable, though his FIP being a run higher is always going to be a concern.

Morton's been with the Pirates since 2009, after making his major league debut for the Braves in 2008. He's a very fastball-centric pitcher, throwing two-seamers about 70% of the time to righties and 40-50% of the time to lefties, along with a four-seamer to make up the difference against the latter. His other main pitch is a curveball, which he tends to save for strikeouts and other times he's ahead in the count. While he gets a lot of ground balls, having posted a GB% over fifty since 2011, he has a massive career platoon split, with lefties hitting for an .894 OPS and .391 wOBA against him, compared to .667 and .298 for righties. Expect a lefty-heavy lineup for the O's tonight.

Wednesday, 30 April: Bud Norris vs. Brandon Cumpton
Norris Cumpton
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 176.2 24.1 30.2 7.0
ERA 4.18 4.44 2.05 2.57
FIP 3.86 4.69 2.62 3.37
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .283/.349/.429 .264/.316/.462 .226/.262/.278 .167/.268/.250

Norris gave the O's a bare-minimum quality start last week, giving up three runs over six innings in Toronto. He's also the only starting pitcher in this series who's seen a significant amount of his opponents, having played in the NL for most of his career. Whether that will work for or against him is anyone's guess.

Cumpton's thrown less than forty innings in the majors and just one start this year. The rookie posts a below-average strikeout rate but hardly walks anyone. He's gotten very lucky with home runs so far, though, having a career HR/FB rate of 2.9%. That's definitely not sustainable, and Camden Yards is a fair bet for a ballpark to reverse that sort of luck. Cumpton is basically a fastball-slider pitcher, throwing a four-seamer 65-70% of the time to all batters, with the rest being sliders against right-handed hitters and a mix of sliders and changeups against lefties.

Maybe hot: Neil Walker (1.158 OPS, 26 PA)

Likely not: Andrew McCutchen (.648 OPS, 32 PA)

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