Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox, 9-11 June 2014

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After a drama-filled series loss to Oakland, Boston comes to town for three games.

Well, that last series was embarrassing on several levels. Two or three wins against the Red Sox would be just the thing to help us forget all of that, no?

Monday, 9 June, 7:05 ET: Bud Norris vs. Jake Peavy
Norris Peavy
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 176.2 67.1 144.2
ERA 4.18 4.41 4.17 4.72
FIP 3.86 4.82 3.96 4.56
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .283/.349/.429 .243/.323/.409 .238/.286/.411 .272/.338/.453

Norris's last few starts have been a bit rough: a pair of four-run, six-inning outings followed by a five-run, five-inning one. The O's have managed to win two of those games anyway, though, so they haven't left as bad of a taste in fans' mouths as some of Tillman's or Jimenez's recent starts. One thing that would help Norris would be rediscovering his strikeout stuff; his career rate is 21.2%, but this year it's dropped to 16.1%. True, his walk rate (7.9%) is better than his career rate (9.3%), but it's not by enough to compensate for the drop in strikeouts.

Peavy isn't having a good year, but his peripherals for his last several starts look better than the results. After struggling early in the year - allowing a homer every start and often walking four-plus batters - he's walked one or fewer in each of his last four games and had a couple of homerless ones. Of course, he's also given up 35 hits in 26.1 IP in that stretch, which could be bad lack or a result of poor command. Peavy throws six different pitches: he goes to fastballs about 70% of the time, mixing up four- and two-seamers about evenly and using cutters about half as often as either. As is typical, his main offspeed pitch against fellow righties is a slider, while he uses a changeup and curveball against lefties.

Maybe hot: Nelson Cruz (1.235 OPS, 12 PA), Dustin Pedroia (1.333 OPS, 12 PA)

Likely not: J.J. Hardy (.375 OPS, 23 PA), Jonathan Herrera (.322 OPS, 14 PA)

Tuesday, 10 June, 7:05 ET: Chris Tillman vs. Brandon Workman
Tillman Workman
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 206.1 71.0 41.2 21.2
ERA 3.71 5.20 4.97 3.74
FIP 4.42 4.84 3.43 3.35
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .241/.303/.427 .264/.344/.444 .272/.331/.420 .215/.292/.304

Tillman's ERA is now 5.20. He's given up five-plus runs in three of his last four outings. He hasn't managed to get an out in the second inning in two of those. I really don't want to talk about this anymore.

Workman began the season in Boston's bullpen before being sent back down to AAA to get regular starts. He was called back up a couple of weeks ago and has made three starts, going about five innings and giving up two to three runs in each. Workman relies heavily on his fastball, throwing four-seamers for 45% of his pitches and cutters for another 30%. His main offspeed pitch is a curveball, and while he has a changeup to use against lefties, he's using it sparingly so far.

Maybe hot: Stephen Drew (1.343 OPS, 11 PA)

Likely not: David Ortiz (.366 OPS, 23 PA)

Wednesday, 11 June, 7:05 ET: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Rubby De La Rosa
Chen De La Rosa
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 137.0 69.2 11.1 12.2
ERA 4.07 4.13 5.56 2.84
FIP 4.04 3.84 5.61 3.55
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .272/.321/.440 .291/.317/.453 .313/.377/.500 .277/.300/.447

Chen's luck with home runs finally ran out over his last three outings, as he gave up three to the Brewers on May 27 and two more to the A's last Friday. He's actually seeming a bit unlucky now, with a .321 BABiP, his ERA a bit above his FIP, and his xFIP (3.54) being lower still. I was surprised to see that Chen's groundball rate has surged this year, currently at 45.2% per FanGraphs. If that's a sustainable improvement, the O's might want to think about an extension, rather than just picking up his option for 2015.

De La Rosa is an interesting story. He debuted as a Dodger in 2011, making thirteen appearances (ten starts) and displaying impressive velocity and strikeout ability, but needing Tommy John surgery after a July start that year. He's been unable to find regular playing time since, despite being healthy for nearly two years and still being able to touch the upper 90s with his fastball. He made his first start since 2011 on 31 May and impressed, striking out eight Rays over seven innings and allowing just four his and no walks. De La Rosa is a fastball-slider-changeup guy, but it's hard to judge his pitch frequency, since he's pitched so little since his surgery.

Maybe hot: David Ortiz (1.044 OPS, 18 PA)

Likely not: David Ross (.600 OPS, 15 PA)

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