After finishing up a road trip against the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, this week's games with the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals at home look on first glance to be a welcome relief from a tough schedule. But will it be?
The Mariners are a last-place team, a fact that won't be changing anytime soon in their division. But they've picked up their game of late and before losing two of three in New York this weekend had won seven games in a row. Their offense remains abysmal, as they are dead last in team OBP at .294 and SLG at .363. Of course, the Orioles aren't too far ahead of them in either category, so this series could be very, very boring.
The good news? The Orioles will not be facing Felix Hernandez this series, so they'll just have to contend with their second best starting pitcher...Kevin Millwood?
Actually, Jason Vargas is probably their second-best starting pitcher, but Kevin "The Mentor" Millwood isn't pitching horribly in Seattle this season either. Crazy!
Monday: Jason Vargas vs Chris Tillman
The Orioles were rumored to have been going after Vargas before the trade deadline, and I'm happy to say that they didn't land him (Andrew G's article on ESPN explains why it would have been a bad idea).
As I would imagine is often the case for Seattle pitchers, Vargas is much worse on the road than he is at the spacious Safeco Field. His home run rate on the road is an awful 2.1 per nine innings, so hopefully the O's hitters will be able to tee off on him on this hot Baltimore night.
Vargas is a lefty and over his career he's had a typical split against lefties and righties, though this season lefties are actually hitting him better. We'll hopefully see Robert Andino at third base instead of Wilson Betemit for this game, even with the recent trend.
On the mound for the Orioles will be Chris Tillman, who of course started his 2012 resurgence against these Mariners back in early July. Will Tillman's success continue? He'll certainly have an easier go of things tonight than he did in his last start, when he gave up five runs against the Yankees in the first inning but then settled down to pitch four more scoreless.
Tuesday: Blake Beavan vs Zach Britton
The twenty-three year old Beavan was a return to the Mariners on the Cliff Lee trade with the Texas Rangers. Beavan was drafted in the first round by the Rangers in 2007, and while his minor-league ERA is a respectable 3.65, he had low strikeout totals at all levels, a trend that has continued in the majors. The good news for the Mariners is that he doesn't walk many either, just 1.2 per nine innings this season. It hasn't helped his results much,though, as he currently has a 5.06 ERA over sixteen starts.
On the road this year, hitters are OPS'ing .849 against Beaven, and while it's only been a sample of sixteen games, lefties also kill him.
Zach Britton will probably walk a ton of guys. But maybe not!
Wednesday: Kevin Millwood vs Tommy Hunter
As I said above, Millwood hasn't been awful this season, although at first glance the difference in his stats between this year and when he was in Baltimore is the number of homers....wait. He pitches in Seattle! I'm not fooled. Let's go to the splits!
Actually, unlike Vargas and Beavan, Millwood is pitching pretty much the same both home and on the road this year. He's striking out a decent amount and walking some, but not a ton. He has been struggling some since the All-Star break, but given that he's 100 years old, he's probably tired.
Tommy Hunter is coming off of a good start in Tampa Bay in which he was the hard-luck loser, and an offense like Seattle's could be just what he needs to put up two good starts in a row. I wouldn't bet on it, though.