Orioles @ Astros starting lineups and game notes - May 31

Jeffrey Phelps

Chris Tillman takes the bump in an effort to end the four game losing skid and get himself back on track. He faces off with lefty Dallas Keuchel, the reigning AL Player of the week, and possibly the hottest pitcher in all of baseball.

Mamma said there'd be days (weeks) like this. There'd be days like this, mamma said. The team is scuffling as of late. The problem they are used to is an offense being outmatched in high-scoring affairs. The last two nights, it has been the bats that have fallen flat while the starters have been stellar. Houston will send their stud to the mound. He will be trying to win his fifth start in a row, Houston's eighth game in a row, and their third straight series. The O's want to avoid a five-game slide.

Pitchers

LHP Dallas Keuchel, Houston

2014 stats: 10 G, 6-2, 2.55 ERA, 70.2 IP, 57 H, 4 HR, 12 BB, 61 SO, .223 BAA, 0.98 WHIP
Last start (at Seattle): 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 SO, CG, W

Pitch Slection in 2014 (Fangraphs)

Pitch Type Usage Velocity
Fastball 52.6% 89.3
Slider 23.0% 79.3
Cutter 9.2% 86.0
Change-up 15.2% 79.2

The Orioles couldn't hit a statistically bad, soft-tossing lefty last night. This afternoon, they get one of the early season surprises. This guy has been on fire. He has won four straight starts, included in that are two complete games, a 7.2 inning outing and an 8.2 inning start. He was rewarded with the AL Player of the Week award just a few days ago.

Wouldn't you know it, his success has mirrored his decrease in walks allowed, only 1.53 per nine innings. Hopefully, a couple of Orioles pitchers bring their notepad along.

Keuchal's stuff doesn't jump off the screen at you. As you can see from the numbers above, he doesn't have that that much gas behind his fastball; he usually tops out at 91, but the four-seamer seems to have some late dip to it. The slider moves a lot and will get some funky swings from opponents. His arm action seems stellar. Everything looks like a fastball out of his hand.

RHP Chris Tillman, Baltimore

2014 stats: 11 G, 4-2, 4.97 ERA, 63.1 IP, 65 H, 9 HR, 27 BB, 51 SO, .257 BAA, 1.45 WHIP
Last start (at Milwaukee): 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 7 SO, ND

Tillman needs to get some of whatever Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez have been eating the last two nights, but without that nasty aftertaste of poor offensive support. He is, in a word, "due". His last two outings, which followed a complete game in Kansas City, have been abhorrent. They have consisted of just 6.2 innnings, 14 hits, seven walks, eight strikeouts, and 14 runs. Yikes.

The one time Tillman has thrown in Houston was a stalwart start last season. He went seven innings, striking out eight and allowing just four hits and one run. That said, most of the guys in the Astros lineup haven't seen him much, so all bets are off.

Lineups

Orioles (w/ career stats against Keuchel)

1. RF Nick Markakis (L) none
2. LF Steve Pearce (R) 0-for-2, .000 BA, 2 SO
3. DH Nelson Cruz (R) 4-for-9, .444 BA, 1 HR, 1 SO
4. CF Adam Jones (R) 1-for-3, .333 BA
5. 1B Chris Davis (L) 1-for-3, .333 BA
6. SS J.J. Hardy (R) 1-for-3, .333 BA
7. 3B Manny Machado (R) 0-for-3, .000 BA
8. 2B Jonathan Schoop (R) none
9. C Caleb Joseph (R) none

For some reason, the few times the middle of the order has seen Keuchal have been good. I know, weird. In the grand scheme, when they face left-handed starters things haven't gone great. They are managing a batting line of .243/.296/.403 as a team against the southpaw starters.

A noticable absence is Nick Hundley again. He has seen the Houston lefty three times and is 0-for-3. A pretty small sample size, but he has struggled. If Jose Altuve runs all over Joseph again this could be a point of contention.

On the flip side, Pearce is back in left after a poor read on a ball last night. Thought we might see David Lough.

Keuchal throws a lot of strikes. That could prove to be a detriment against this lineup. Baltimore hitters get into trouble when they chase pitches out of the zone and make balls into strikes. Jones said after the game last night that they need to change their approach. If they can actually do that and they force Keuchal to come to them, this could turn things around. Fingers crossed.

Astros (w/ career stats against Tillman)

1. 2B Jose Altuve (R) 2-for-5, .400 BA, 1 BB, 1 SO
2. RF George Springer (R) 0-for-3, .000 BA, 2 SO
3. CF Dexter Fowler (S) 0-for-1, .000 BA, 2 BB
4. C Jason Castro (L) 1-for-5, .200 BA, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO
5. 3B Matt Domniguez (R) 0-for-6, .000 BA, 1 SO
6. 1B Marc Krauss (L) 1-for-2, .500 BA, 1 BB
7. DH Alex Presley (L) none
8. LF Robbie Grossman (S) none
9. SS Marwin Gonzalez (S) 0-for-2, .000 BA, 1 SO

Most of these hitters have seen Tillman a little bit. That's all I've got for ya. This offense hasn't look especially scary this series so it wouldn't seem that should change today. So, that obviously means Springer will hit two grand slams. Enjoy.

Game Notes

  • Matt Wieters will take a day off from workouts today but will throw again on Sunday
  • A breakdown of his Friday throwing session: 20 tosses at 65-70 feet, no discomfort. They will increase the reps and distance tomorrow
  • Today is Adam Jones' 1,000th career MLB game (his 926th with the O's, which puts him 19th on Baltimore's all-time list)
  • Caleb Joseph's walk last night was the Orioles first since the fourth inning Wednesday (thats 21 innings and 83 PA between walks)
  • Cruz has hit in 11 straight games (.472 BA, 5 2B, 7 HR, 12 RBI, 13 R in that span)
  • Luis Ayala opted out of his minor league deal with the O's (he went 5.1 innings with Bowie, allowing 3 runs, 11 hits and a wHIP of 2.44)
  • Something of note that I missed: Bud Selig said yesterday that Baltimore is a "very, very viable" candidate for the 2016 All-Star game. The Baltimore Sun's Eduardo Encinca explains.

*game notes come from Orioles Public Relations and MASN's Roch Kubatko

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