Series Preview: Orioles vs. Indians, 22 - 25 May

Thumbs up for homers! - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles return home from Pittsburgh for a series against the Cleveland Indians. Chen, Norris, Jimenez, and Gonzalez for the Orioles. Cleveland's game one start is currently TBD, but Masterson, Kluber, and Bauer will follow. See YOU at the Yard!

Thursday, 22 May (7:05pm) - Wei-Yin Chen vs. TBD
2014 Stats Chen (5-2)
IP 46.1
ERA 3.69
FIP 3.15
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .298/.335/.428

Game notes:  Chen will start his third straight series opener - he's picked up the win in the last two.  In starts against Houston and Kansas City, he allowed just 3 earned runs in 12+ innings of work.  Chen hasn't given up more than 3 earned runs in a start since early April and while pitching to a career high BABIP, he's exercising excellent control and currently owns a career low ERA/FIP.

A reason to watch:  Fun fact for the afternoon - Chen has started three series opening games this season and has picked up a victory in all three.  He's allowed just 4 earned runs (18.2 innings) in that span.

Scouting Report: Our old friend TBD makes a return this evening.  He's sure to be a tough one!

Maybe hot: No qualified hitters

Maybe not: Nick Swisher (2-14, 1 BB, 2 SO, .414 OPS)

Friday, 23 May (7:05pm) - Bud Norris vs. Justin Masterson
2014 Stats Norris (2-4)
Masterson (2-3)
IP 50.1 58.2
ERA 3.58 5.06
FIP 4.51 3.83
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .232/.309/.383 .255/.354/.398

Game notes: Norris gets the ball for the second game of the four-game series against Cleveland ace Justin Masterson.  He's been stellar at Camden Yards this season and for a guy who has struggled against lefties in the past, he's pitched them well so far.

A reason to watch: Bud Norris might be your #costafface.  His numbers aren't flashy, but he's not issuing a significant number of walks and he's been keeping the ball on the ground more often than usual.  He's pitched to contact, which has resulted in a higher FIP, but he's inducing grounders at a rate of 43%.  As previously mentioned, he's struggled against lefties in his career (.800+ OPS), but he's sporting a .703 OPS against them this season.

Scouting report: Masterson entered the 2014 season as the Indians ace, although he's facing some competition from Kluber, whom the Orioles will face on Saturday.  Masterson has struggled at times this season, especially with control.  FIP suggests there is plenty of room for improvement, especially since he's kept the ball in the park.  LHB have really had their way with him, slugging .512 and accounting for 23 of his 33 ER allowed.  Masterson's primary pitch is a sinker that generally sits in the low 90s, although he's averaging just 88.8 MPH this season.  Fun fact for this game - Masterson was born in Kingston, Jamaica.

Maybe hot: Adam Jones (2 2B, 1 3B, 3 BB, 25 PA)

Maybe not: Nick Markakis (.410 OPS, 25 PA)
Saturday, 24 May (12:35pm) - Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Corey Kluber
2014 Stats Jimenez (2-5)
Kluber (4-3)
IP 52.0 65.2
ERA 4.50 3.43
FIP 4.16 2.33
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .267/.350/.388 .265/.310/.390

Game notes: Jimenez will make his first start against Cleveland since leaving for Baltimore in the offseason.  He spent last season in the top half of the Indians rotation and accrued 3.2 WAR, good for 34th among qualified starters.  After struggling in April, Jimenez has come on strong in May by chopping his walk rate in half and dialing up the strikeouts.  Additionally, he's allowed just one home run in 24 innings after 5 in 28 during April.

A reason to watch: The Jimenez/Kluber matchup is fairly compelling.  Two of the three top Indians starters from last season make their first appearance against each other.  Both pitchers have been solid in the month of May.  Kluber's 2.2 WAR is currently 2nd in the MLB - he's behind only Boston's Jon Lester (2.4 WAR).

Scouting report: Kluber has really come on strong for the Indians.  He's posting double-digit strikeouts numbers and maintains excellent control.  Even though he's currently sporting a career high BABIP, he's kept the ball in the park and owns career-best numbers for both ERA and FIP.  Like Masterson, Kluber generally throws a sinker, although his gets up into the mid-90s.  He also throws a slider, curveball, and change.  Kluber's slider has been a dominating pitch since he cracked the majors and has only improved.  Contact rate against the slider is just over 60% and boasts a swinging strike rate of over 20%.

Maybe hot: Delmon Young (4-9, 2 RBI, 10 PA), David Murphy (1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB, 15 PA, .795 OPS)

Sunday, 25 May (1:35pm) - Miguel Gonzalez vs. Trevor Bauer
2014 Stats Gonzalez (2-3)
Bauer (1-1)
IP 45.2 12.0
ERA 4.53 2.25
FIP 4.69 4.56
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .275/.340/.470 .250/.340/.432

Game notes: Miguel Gonzalez will take the hill in the final game of the series.  He has allowed more than 3 earned runs only once this season, although he's been somewhat homer happy.  Gonzalez is coming off a win in his last start - a six inning, seven strikeout performance against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A reason to watch: Chris Davis appears to be rounding into form after struggling early, possibly an effect of his oblique injury.  He crushed three bombs in game one against Pittsburgh and followed up with a multi-hit performance in game two.  He's no longer slugging less than Nick Markakis.

Scouting report: Trevor Bauer is a former first round pick that has never seemed to find enough control to be a regular MLB starter.  He's throwing gas this year (velo up an average of 2 MPH to 94+) and, at least through 12 innings, has limited the walks.  Whether or not he sticks in the rotation is anyone's guess, but he's looked promising so far.

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