Indians @ Orioles lineups and game notes for Thursday night

Justin K. Aller

It's the opening game of a four-game set between the Orioles and the Indians on Thursday night. Justin Masterson will be starting for the Indians on short rest, while Wei-Yin Chen starts for the Orioles on extra rest.

Wednesday night was a tough loss, but it is, after all, only one game. The Orioles are back in the saddle on Thursday night as Cleveland comes into town to start a four-game series that will span Memorial Day weekend. One bit of good news for the O's is that Cleveland's starter had an abbreviated outing yesterday in a game that went into extra innings, so their bullpen and rotation are somewhat in disarray as the series begins. The O's were spared a similar fate by Brad Brach throwing four innings.

Time: 7:05 Eastern Place: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Radio: BAL - WBAL 1090 AM; CLE - WTAM 1100 AM; 100.7 FM
TV: BAL - MASN; CLE - STO

Pitchers

RHP Justin Masterson, Indians
2014: 10 G, 5.06 ERA, 58.2 IP, 53 SO, 28 BB, .255 BAA, 1.48 WHIP
Last start (vs. Athletics): 4.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 1 SO

Masterson is pressed into duty to start this game on only three days rest because the originally-scheduled starter, Josh Tomlin, was needed for multiple innings in Wednesday's game. At first glance, Masterson's poor results are surprising. How does a guy sporting a 61.6% ground ball rate have a 5+ ERA? This is the kind of ground ball rate the Orioles claim Ubaldo Jimenez gets, even though that isn't factual. For Masterson, it's for real. It's the highest GB% of his career, with one of the highest strikeout rates, and still he's not doing too well.

One problem for him is probably velocity. After averaging 91.6mph on his fastball last year, so far this year he's only averaging 89mph. That will make it easier for players to catch up to some pitches and hit them hard. His command is also suffering, with the highest walk rate of his Indians career. Not that this will hurt him against the Orioles.

LHP Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
2014: 8 GS, 3.69 ERA, 46.1 IP, 33 SO, 10 BB, .298 BAA, 1.45 WHIP
Last start (at Royals): 5.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO

Batters hitting nearly .300 off Chen shows what we might call hittable stuff. The good news is he's cut his walk rate down to nearly a miniscule level thus far, increased the rate at which he gets grounders, and he's given up fewer home runs too. That's all while sporting what looks like an unlucky BABIP of .348.

Of course, there's probably reasons why it isn't luck, also. Chen's tiring late in starts is a well-demonstrated issue, one that is occasionally handled poorly by manager Buck Showalter. He last pitched a week ago. Extra rest has tended to help him. Hopefully that proves to be the case tonight.

Lineups

Orioles (w/ career stats against Masterson)

RF Nick Markakis (L) 4-25, 3 BB
3B Manny Machado (R) 1-4, 2B
CF Adam Jones (R) 5-23, 2B, 3B
1B Chris Davis (L) 4-13, 2 2B, HR
DH Nelson Cruz (R) 3-14, HR
C Steve Clevenger (L) none
SS J.J. Hardy (R) 4-16, 2B
2B Ryan Flaherty (L) 2-5, 2 GIDP
LF David Lough (L) 3-6

Not a whole lot of extensive history here, and for the two guys with more than 20 plate appearances, it isn't very good history. The good news is that Delmon Young isn't playing. He sports a .327 OPS against Masterson in 22 plate appearances. Even if he'd hit five home runs off Masterson, it'd probably still be good news that he isn't playing.

Indians (w/ 2014 season stats vs. left-handed pitchers)

CF Michael Bourn (L) .188/.206/.250
SS Asdrubal Cabrera (S) .288/.348/.475
LF Michael Brantley (L) .296/.391/.500
DH Ryan Raburn (R) .176/.283/.216
1B Nick Swisher (S) .185/.318/.259
C Yan Gomes (R) .255/.308/.319
3B Carlos Santana (S) .167/.296/.300
RF David Murphy (R) .220/.238/.366
2B Mike Aviles (R) .261/.300/.283

This is the kind of thing to make you think tonight's game looks like a matchup between the stoppable force and the movable object. Those are some terrible numbers against lefties, with the exception of Cabrera and Brantley. Maybe Chen can actually take advantage of the softness of most of this lineup.

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