Series Preview: Orioles vs. Astros, 9 - 11 May

J.J. Hardy and the Orioles take on the Houston Astros - Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The O's return home for a series against the Astros. Chen, Gonzalez, and Tillman are scheduled for the Orioles. Feldman, McHugh, and Cosart for the Astros. See YOU at the Yard!

Friday, 8 May (7:05pm) - Wei-Yin Chen vs. Scott Feldman
2014 Stats Chen (3-2)
Feldman (2-1)
IP 34.0
26.2
ERA 4.24
1.69
FIP 2.92
3.99
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .317/.351/.437
.176/.286/.220

Game notes:  Wei-Yin Chen will take mound in the series opener.  He's pitching about as well as he ever has in his Oriole career if you look at some of his non-standard numbers.  Chen is generating more ground balls, fewer, homers, and more strikeouts.  That said, he's also pitching to a lot of contact and his BABIP is sky-high.  He's currently averaging about 8 hits a start and that's been cutting his starts somewhat short.

A reason to watch:  Scott Feldman will make his first start against the Orioles since leaving via free agency in the offseason.  He's off to a pretty solid start atop the Houston rotation, even though he isn't missing any bats.  Feldman is currently day to day with a biceps injury, but still plans to start this game.

Scouting Report: Scott Feldman is pretty well known around these parts after spending the second half of the 2013 season as a member of the Orioles.  He departed for Houston as a free agent in the offseason and now leads a fairly young Astros rotation.  His walk and strikeout numbers are identical at 3.04 per 9 innings, but he is generated a ton of ground ball outs.  Feldman is mainly a cutter-sinker guy (average velocity in the high 80s), but also throws a curve and change.  He has never really been a strikeout-type pitcher, but generally throws the curveball to induce whiffs.

Maybe hot: Nick Markakis (6-21, 0 K)

Maybe not: Adam Jones (1 hit in 16 PA, 4K)

Saturday, 10 May (7:05pm) -  Miguel Gonzalez vs. Collin McHugh
2014 Stats Gonzalez (1-3)
McHugh (2-1)
IP 30.2 19.1
ERA 5.28 2.79
FIP 4.85 1.48
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .287/.362/.492 .186/.240/.257

Game notes: Maybe a change from Sunday pitching will help Gonzalez - even if he has better career numbers during day games.  Gonzalez has been saddled with a loss in his last two outings and hasn't picked up a win in almost a month.  His FIP, however, has been sub-3.00 over that stretch, so hopefully the Oriole offense can start to back him up, as they put up a combined 5 runs in his last two starts.  He'll face Collin McHugh, the second Houston starter with a sub-.200 BAA in two nights.

A reason to watch: Adam Jones might be heating up.  He was off to a horrendous start and exercising limited plate discipline, but the Tampa series looked promising.  He had hits in all three games and struck out only once.  Jones has always been prone to streaky hitting, but his bat is critical with Chris Davis still out of the lineup and Manny Machado playing serious catch up after no spring training.

Scouting report: Collin McHugh is now with his third team in as many years.  He started his career with the New York Mets before moving to Colorado mid-season in 2013.  McHugh, like Feldman, is also off to a solid start, especially considering his pedestrian (albeit limited) career numbers.  He has a standard fastball, slider, curve, and change arsenal - certainly not overpowering with a low-90s fastball, but he has thrown in excess of 94MPH this season.  He's currently sitting at a career-high 10.71 K/9 thanks to career-high swing and swinging strike rates on all four pitches.

Sunday, 11 May (1:35pm) - Chris Tillman vs. Jarred Cosart
2014 Stats Tillman (3-1)
Cosart (1-3)
IP 42.2 38.0
ERA 3.80 4.50
FIP 4.23 4.98
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .246/.306/.404 .210/.313/.348

Game notes: Chris Tillman has come back down to earth a bit after a great start.  He has allowed four homers in his last three starts after giving up just two in his first four.  The first inning has been a struggle in his past two starts, but he's actually recovered well and extended the outings.  He has one Sunday start this season - an 8+ inning gem vs. Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.

A reason to watch: Nick Markakis is quietly swinging a hot bat.  He currently has a 15 game hitting streak, second in the league only to Colorado's Nolan Arenado.  Markakis has hit .328/.406/.458 during the streak, which includes five multi-hit games.

Scouting report: Jarred Cosart is just 23 years old and in his second season with Houston.  He is mostly a fastball guy, throwing four-seamers, cutters, and sinkers into the mid-90s.  His out-pitches include a curveball and change that are 15+ MPH slower than his regular fastball.  He has had some difficulty with lefties in 2014 - four of the five homers he's allowed have come from that side - although it isn't a terribly pronounced split.

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