Series Preview: Orioles vs. Blue Jays, 12 - 15 June

A series win against the AL East leaders would result in much rejoicing - Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The O's take a series from Boston and remain at home to face the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays. See YOU at the Yard.

Thursday, 12 June (7:05pm) - Kevin Gausman vs. Mark Buehrle
2014 Stats Gausman (1-1)
Buehrle (10-2)
IP 11.0 88.1
ERA 4.91 2.04
FIP 3.63 3.26
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .238/.289/.317 .247/.305/.358

Game notes: Ignore that first start for Gausman this year - he was suffering from an illness and wasn't remotely set up by the Orioles to succeed - he really is good.  Saturday's brilliant 7 inning effort is exactly why the Orioles made him the 4th overall pick in 2012.  While he has plenty of work to do on his secondary offerings and throws a very fastball-centric game, Gausman has the tools to succeed at the MLB level.  Solid control, blistering velocity, and an 11MPH average delta between his fastball and changeup.  Can he do it consistently?

A reason to watch: Gausman is the obvious choice here.  It's also rather convenient that he's pitching in this game because, let's face it, this is crowded sports weekend.  The FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil this afternoon, the PGA US Open is already underway at Pinehurst, and the College World Series gets going from Omaha.  How do you even decide what to watch?  My cup runneth over.

Scouting report: All of that obsession with velocity among the MLB's best starters over the past few years gets lost on guys like Buehrle.  His max velocity this season registers at turtle pace relative to majority of MLB pitchers.  That 87.9 MPH is a full 12 MPH slower than what Kevin Gausman dialed up on Saturday, yet he's 10-2 with a 2.04 ERA (3.26 FIP).  He's allowing just a third of a homer per 9 innings, just slightly behind Garrett Richards (LAA) and some guy named Felix Hernandez.  That's going to be a tough number to maintain all season.  FIP also suggests he'll regress at least a bit at some point, but his lack of strikeouts keeps that number inflated - Buehrle has outpitched his FIP in all but two of his many 3+ WAR seasons with a similar K/9.  It couldn't hurt to give Delmon Young a start in this game - he's produced an OPS above 1.00 in nearly 50 PAs.

Maybe hot: Delmon Young (2 2B, 3 HR, 1.026 OPS, 47 PA), Nick Markakis (4 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 1.145 OPS, 46 PA)

Maybe not: J.J. Hardy (.400 OPS, 26 PA), Nelson Cruz (0-14 lifetime)

Friday, 13 June (7:05pm) - Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Drew Hutchison
2014 Stats Jimenez (2-7)
Hutchison (4-4)
IP 70.0 75.0
ERA 5.01 3.96
FIP 4.53 3.99
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .251/.357/.377 .239/.299/.426

Game notes: After two straight starts of 1 ER (6.0 and 5.2 IP), Jimenez followed up with 2.1 IP, 6 ER stinker against Oakland.  He'll be looking to rebound against the AL East front-runners.  While is HR/FB% is elevated from last season, it's possible that's a result of an elevated GB%.  His real problem has been control - Jimenez's 5.14 BB/9 is tops in the majors among qualified SP.  Against LHB, he's currently tossing a 1:1 K/BB, which doesn't seem like it's going to bring him much success over a full season.

A reason to watch: This series in general is a pretty big one.  Sure, the O's still have 2/3 of a season to play, but they're 4.5 games back of Toronto for the AL East lead.  Dropping a 4 game series isn't going to help the cause.  Should they win the series, it could be a nice momentum boost for a team missing their starting C and 2nd best SP (by WAR, Miguel Gonzalez is second only to Chen, although through just 58 IP).

Scouting report: The O's have seen Hutchison once before - in early April.  Here's the scouting report from a previous series preview:  "He combines a slider and change with his low 90s fastball. The slider is his standard out-pitch and he's had some success with it (.600 OPS against). The slider has produced 50 percent of his strikeouts this season and 45 percent of his career whiffs. Hutchison's minor league numbers show that he can strike guys out at a pretty solid rate and he's managed to continue some of that in the majors. He's pretty good at keeping the ball on the ground and excels when his hitters do just that."  Hutchison had a solid start to the season, but has fallen back a bit during May.  That said, he's been sparkling on the road this season - the majority of his struggles have come from within Rogers Centre.

Maybe hot: Nick Markakis (4-12, 1 2B, .750 OPS), Chris Davis (2-8, 2 BB, .705 OPS), Edwin Encarnacion (1.046 OPS, 19 PA)

Maybe not: Adam Jones (2-12, 3K, .333 OPS), J.J. Hardy (1-10, 3K, .382 OPS), Jose Bautista (2-22, .267 OPS)

Saturday, 14 June (4:05pm) - Bud Norris vs. R.A. Dickey
2014 Stats Norris (5-5)
Dickey (6-4)
IP 75.1 83.2
ERA 3.94 4.20
FIP 4.60 4.55
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .228/.312/.388 .243/.332/.416

Game notes: Bud Norris takes the hill following his best start of the season - an 8 inning, 3 hit performance against AL East foe Boston.  That's good news, as the start came on the heels of three straight starts with 4 or more ER.

A reason to watch: Should you want to peel yourself away from the litany of other sporting events this weekend, you don't get to see the knuckleball every day.  You may also see an appearance from former #teamteve cardholder, Steve Tolleson at some point this weekend.

Scouting report: Knuckler R.A. Dickey makes his 9th career start against the Orioles on Saturday afternoon.  He hasn't enjoyed the same success in Toronto that he had with the New York Mets, but he has pitched exceptionally well at Camden Yards.  He owns a .677 OPS at OPACY, but just a 1-2 record.  Dickey has had control issues this season (4.09 BB/9), but is slowly inching back to the GB rate that helped to him to three quality seasons in NY.

Maybe hot: J.J. Hardy (5-15, 1 HR, .933 OPS)

Maybe not: Adam Jones (3-19, 5 K, .474 OPS)

Sunday, 15 June (1:35pm) - Chris Tillman vs. J.A. Happ
2014 Stats Tillman (5-3)
Happ (5-3)
IP 77.0 47.1
ERA 4.91 4.37
FIP 4.75 5.20
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .265/.346/.432 .278/.362/.470

Game notes: The Orioles go from R.A. to J.A. Meanwhile, the Orioles will counter with Chris Tillman.  He's got two starts against Toronto already this season.  One, an 8 inning gem, the other, a 7 ER debacle.  The good news is that the gem came at home...

A reason to watch: Which Tillman is going to show up?  The one that can't find the plate or the one that is able to use his arsenal effectively?

Scouting report: Happ returned to the rotation at the beginning of May after starting the season in the bullpen.  He's been inconsistent at best, but has tossed some solid games, including 7 innings of shutout ball against the Oakland Athletics two weeks ago.  Happ throws a 92-93 MPH fastball balanced with a slider, curve, and change.  Inconsistency among his out-pitches has seemingly kept him from any regular success at the MLB level.

Maybe hot: Jose Bautista (7-22, 1.044 OPS)

Maybe not: Adam Lind (8-30, 7 K, .579 OPS)

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