Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. Washington Nationals, July 9-10 2014

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

A win and a rainout in DC behind them, the O's return to Camden Yards for a brief homestand, first finishing their four-game set against the Nationals.

Wednesday, July 9, 7:05 ET: Bud Norris vs. Doug Fister
Norris Fister
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 176.2 87.0 208.2 70.2
ERA 4.18 3.62 3.67 2.93
FIP 3.86 4.51 3.26 3.96
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .277/.339/.415 .231/.310/.380 .281/.329/.381 .253/.275/.405

Norris will be making his first start since June 21, after which he went on the disabled list with a groin strain. He's pitched better than I, and I think most O's fans, expected, but his peripherals are cause for a bit of concern. His ERA is almost a full point lower than his FIP, and his BABiP sits at .253 (career: .305). Regression looks likely, but at least when Norris has struggled this year, he's still managed to last at least five innings and rarely given up more than four runs.

Despite missing over a month at the beginning of the season, Fister is having a good year, even if like Norris his ERA seems likely to rise a bit. His strikeout rate isn't what it was in the AL, dropping from around league-average to well below that, but his walk rate has dropped enough to more or less compensate. Still, he's benefiting from some good fortune, with a .262 BABiP (career: .295) and a high strand rate (80.8%; league average: 73%). The righty throws mostly sinkers, especially to same-handed hitters. He'll use cutters, curves, and splitters in equal proprortion to round things out against righties, while lefties see a few more splitters and fewer sinkers.

Maybe hot: Nick Markakis (1.134 OPS, 20 PA), Ryan Zimmerman (1.273 OPS, 11 PA)

Likely not: J.J. Hardy (.490 OPS, 23 PA), Jayson Werth (.286 OPS, 14 PA)

Thursday, July 10, 7:05 ET: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Gio Gonzalez
Chen Gonzalez
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 137.0 98.1 195.2 76.2
ERA 4.07 4.12 3.36 3.52
FIP 4.04 4.43 3.41 3.18
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .272/.321/.440 .284/.317/.478 .231/.305/.363 .225/.302/.355

Chen's one of the few O's starters who isn't outpitching his peripherals. His ERA is a little lower than his FIP, true, but his xFIP sits at 3.87. The latter suggests he's been a little unlucky with the longball this season with a 13.4% HR/FB rate, when the league average is around 10% and his own career average was about 11% before this year.

Gonzalez lost about a month to shoulder inflammation, but he's been on a roll since getting back. He hasn't allowed a run in this last three starts, spanning 21 innings, and has struck out 19 while allowing just 16 baserunners. The southpaw throws fastballs 60-70% of the time, sticking mostly to four-seamers against fellow lefties but giving righties an even mix of four-seamers and sinkers. His main offspeed pitch against lefties is a curveball, while versus righties, he turns to a changeup just as often.

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