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Series Preview: Orioles @ Nationals

Baltimore Orioles (25-14, 1st AL East) @ Washington Nationals (23-15, 2nd NL East)

Sweep! Okay, yes, it was only two games against a team with the worst home record in the entire MLB, but it feels great anyways. Now the O’s kick off interleague play with a series against the nearby Washington Nationals. The "Battle of the Beltways" stuff is sort of overblown since these teams aren’t real rivals, but it does get a little interesting since both teams have started off the season playing some solid baseball. Will this series have a defining moment?

Nice to see the Orioles come from behind in two consecutive games with some timely hitting from guys like Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy. The pitching wasn’t so bad either. Even Brian Matusz got a quality start. Of course, now they’re headed to the NL parks where there’s no DH and the AL teams all lose a bat. Although that doesn’t seem to be a hindrance to the O’s. In last year’s interleague games, Oriole pitchers posted the following line: .409 BA, 22 ABs, 4 Ks, 2 2Bs, 1HR, 9 hits, 3 runs. That’s not half-bad. Then again, they didn’t face a guy throwing 98MPH every other pitch AND are missing batting extraordinaire Zach Britton (1.750 OPS). The Nationals, on the other hand, are rowing along thanks to some outstanding pitching. They’ve seen everybody and their mother hit the DL so far, but are still managing to win some games. The offense has been rather weak, but Adam LaRoche is crushing it and Ryan Zimmerman is back from the DL. Oh yea…and they’ve got really good pitching. And Edwin Jackson.

Luckily for the O’s, they’ll miss Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez this trip. Night games for the first two (7:05 and 7:15pm) before the Sunday matinee (1:35pm). Orioles projected starters: Arrieta, Hammel, Chen. Nationals projected starter: Jackson, Detwiler, Strasburg. Orioles. Nationals. WHO WILL OWN IT?

Game 1 (Friday @ 7:05pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Jake Arrieta (RHP, 2-4, 5.21 ERA)

WAS – Edwin Jackson (RHP, 1-1, 3.71 ERA)

Scouting Report:

When did the Nationals sign him? Why didn’t anyone say something?? In any case, the move to the Nationals seems to have sparked both his swing and miss ability (7.83 K/9) and his control (lowest BB/9 of his career). Throws a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup, although he is primarily a fastball/slider pitcher (they make up about 80 percent of his pitches). Velocity is down just a bit this year, but he’s still getting into the mid-90s on a regular basis with his fastball.

Key Stats:

Endy Chavez actually has the O’s best numbers against Jackson at 4 for 7 with 2 doubles. He’s on the DL, however, so that leaves Nick Markakis at 7 for 18 (.389) with a double and 3 RBI. Adam Jones is just 3 for 14, but he’s got a homer. Chris Davis is 0 for 11 with 6Ks. Limited numbers for the Nationals against Arrieta. Danny Espinosa is 2 for 2 with a triple and a home run. Rick Ankiel is 2 for 3 with a double. Overall, the Nationals are 7 for 21 against the Orioles’ righty.

Game 2 (Saturday @ 7:15pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Jason Hammel (RHP, 4-1, 2.68 ERA)

WAS – Ross Detwiler (LHP, 3-2, 2.75 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Former first round pick finally getting a legitimate shot in the starting rotation. Throws a fastball, sinker, slider, and changeup. Has a curveball, but seems to have dropped it this season. Seems to be the soft-tosser of the Nationals rotation, averaging just 92MPH on his four-seam fastball. Edwin Jackson signed with the Nationals. Has yet to throw a changeup to a lefty this year, but likely because he has hardly seen any (34 this season, compared to 126 from the right side).

Key Stats:

Of the active Orioles, only Markakis and Jones have 5+ ABs against Detwiler. Markakis is 3 for 6 with 1 RBI. Adam Jones is 1 for 6 with a double. The Nationals lineup is 14-57 (.246) against Hammel from his time in the NL. Ryan Zimmerman is 5 for 14 with a double and a home run. Roger Bernadina is 3 for 6 with a double.

Game 3 (Sunday @ 1:35pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Wei-Yin Chen (LHP, 4-0, 2.45 ERA)

WAS – Stephen Strasburg (RHP, 3-1, 2.25 ERA)

Scouting Report:

One of the MLB’s best when he’s not messing around with Icy Hot. Great strikeout numbers (10.5 per 9 innings) with solid control. Throws a fastball, changeup, and curveball. Uses the two-seamer as a solid weapon. Definitely cutting back on the velocity after having Tommy John surgery a year ago. Still getting into the upper-90s with regularity, however. Two-seamer runs in on the hands of right-handed hitters. Appears to pull the string on the changeup with ease (has had no issue keeping that pitch low in the strike zone).

Key Stats:

Did you hear that the Nationals signed Edwin Jackson? Nobody in the active lineup has faced Strasburg before. Similarly, nobody in the Nationals lineup has faced Chen before. Hitters from both sides of the plate seem to struggle against Strasburg, although lefties have a slight edge in OBP and SLG. Lefties have a .206/.265/.300 line, while righties come in at .210/.255/.297. Yep…just a SLIGHT edge.