How 'bout them O's? That is something that is getting excitedly shouted around town these days, and for good reason. The team is on fire and hold a three game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays entering play today. Add to that, possibly the team's best pitcher is back on the mound today. These are the days.
RHP Bud Norris, Baltimore
2014 stats: 14 G, 7-5, 3.62 ERA, 87.0 IP, 10 HR, 60 SO, 28 BB, .231 BAA, 1.16 WHIP
Last start (June 21 @ NY Yankees): 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 4 SO, 2 BB, W
Possibly the biggest surprise from the first half, Norris returns from a groin injury that kept him out of action for a little over two weeks. That said, this outing isn't expected to be too long unless his pitch count if especially low.
"I go with some caution in the next couple starts," said manager Buck Showalter. "It has been a little while."
There isn't much else to say about Norris that Oriole fans don't already know. He is both walking and striking out fewer batters than his career numbers, but he is also allowing fewer hits on the balls in play. That will likely level out at some point but with the way the Baltimore bats have been going, a few extra hits shouldn't hurt.
Norris and the Nationals have crossed paths just three times. In those times he is 2-0 with a 3.66 ERA. He has gone 19.2 innings, given up two home runs, walked eight and struck out 16.
RHP Doug Fister, Washington
2014 stats: 11 G, 7-2, 2.93 ERA, 70.2 IP, 9 HR, 42 SO, 6 BB, .253 BAA, 1.05 WHIP
Last start (July 2 vs. Colorado): 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 5 SO, 0 BB, W
Fister missed the first month of the season with injuries to his elbow and lat. Since returning, he has been lights out. Come on, look at those walks. He has only issued six free passes so far this season. Even if he pitched in April that would expand to nine or ten walks. Long story short: he stays in the strike zone.
That said, he doesn't strikeout to many guys and his batting average on balls in play (.262) indicates that he has been a bit luck to have such a low ERA. His FIP (3.96) and xFIP (3.77) do the same. This is one of those rare cases where fans shouldn't have an issue with Oriole hitters swinging away.
The Nationals starter has faced the O's eight times in the past. He is 3-2 with a 5.30 ERA, striking out 35 and walking just six and an opponent batting average of .293.
Washington (stats against Norris)
|CF Denard Span (L)||none|
|2B Anthony Rendon (R)||none|
|RF Jayson Werth (R)||2-for-14, .143 BA, 7 SO|
|1B Adam LaRoche (L)||2-for-5, .400 BA, 1 BB, 1 SO|
|3B Ryan Zimmerman (R)||4-for-11, .364 BA, 2 HR, 1 SO|
|LF Bryce Harper (L)||none|
|SS Ian Desmond (R)||none|
|C Jose Lobaton (S)||0-for-0, .000 BA, 1 BB|
|P Doug Fister (L)||career stats: .143/.143/.171, 1 2B, 2 RBI|
Half the lineup has never seen Norris before so these numbers by-in-large mean nothing. Here are some of the numbers of those on the bench: Nate McLouth is 0-for-9 against his former teammate, Danny Espinosa is 2-for-10 with a double and four strikeouts, Wilson Ramos is 3-for-9, and Scott Hairston is 1-for-5 with a home run.
Baltimore (stats against Fister)
|RF Nick Markakis (L)||8-for-19, .421 BA, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 3 SO|
|3B Manny Machado (R)||0-for-2, 1 SO|
|CF Adam Jones (R)||5-for-14, .357 BA, 1 SO|
|LF Nelson Cruz (R)||8-for-21, .381 BA, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 2 SO|
|1B Chris Davis (L)||3-for-10, .300 2 HR, 5 SO|
|SS J.J. Hardy (R)||4-for-22, .182 BA, 2 2B, 1 BB, 5 SO|
|C Caleb Joseph (R)||none|
|2B Jonathan Schoop (R)||none|
|P Bud Norris (R)||career stats: .145/.168/.174, 5 2B, 10 RBI|
All of the veterans got a piece of Fister when he was an American League pitcher in Seattle and Detroit. The experience on the bench is Delmon Young (4-for-15, 1 2B, 1 HR against Fister) and David Lough (3-for-11 with a strikeout).
Steve Pearce sits again as Cruz is as hot as it gets and Davis looks to find his stride after hitting a late bomb last night. So is the life of a lovable utility-man.