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Series Preview: Orioles @ Mariners, 24 - 27 July

After taking two of three from the Angels, the Orioles travel up the coast for a four-game set in Seattle

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Lisa Blumenfeld
Thursday, 24 July (10:10pm) - Wei-Yin Chen @ Hisashi Iwakuma
2014 Stats Chen (10-3)
Iwakuma (8-4)
IP 109.0 103.2
ERA 4.21 2.95
FIP 4.44 3.15
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .286/.319/.481 .244/.258/.359

Game notes: With a win last Saturday against the Oakland Athletics, Chen is now two away from tying his career high.  He's certainly getting the bullpen help and run support, as he has not gone past 6 innings since mid-June and allows a home run per start.  On the plus side, he's only issued one walk per start as well, which has likely contributed to a slight decrease in his raw numbers (more pitches in the zone).

A reason to watch: Time to pick up some additional wins on the west coast.  Baltimore has been above .500 on the road - the only team in the AL East that can boast winning records both at home and on the road.  Seattle at home?  Under .500 and have dropped two of their previous three series at Safeco, including their first of the 2nd half.

Scouting report: Iwakuma recorded 220 innings a year ago with 4.1 WAR.  Although he's got a slightly higher ERA this go around, he's on track for a career low FIP, which currently sits at 3.15.  Doesn't issue many walks and allows fewer than one homer per 9 innings (Safeco might help with that).  Relies on movement over velocity - his pitches rarely top 90 MPH, but he uses a sinker/splitter/slider combo effectively.

Friday, 25 July (10:10pm) - Kevin Gausman @ Felix Hernandez
2014 Stats Gausman (4-3)
Hernandez (11-2)
IP 42.1 151.1
ERA 4.04 2.02
FIP 3.38 2.05
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .273/.335/.366 .197/.240/.274

Game notes: Gausman was putrid in his encore performance against Sonny Gray and the Athletics, getting knocked around for 9 hits in 4 innings.  He threw just four sliders in the game and is currently using the pitch at a lesser frequency than last season.  It's a little early to tell what kind of effect that will have in the long run, but it would seem as though he needs to start mixing it in more often sooner rather than later.

A reason to watch: For the second series in a row, Gausman finds himself apart of the best pitching matchup.  Hernandez is always fun to watch (O's fans don't get the opportunity often).  Throwing in Gausman (no pun intended) might actually make this game worth staying up for.

Scouting report: It's really hard to believe this guy is only 28.  He's been in the league for what feels like forever and has been tossing 200+ innings a season since 2008.  Hernandez is currently posting career bests in K/9, BB/9, HR/9, ERA, and FIP.  There always seems to be talk about his declining velocity - a fair point when you look at the numbers - but somehow he's getting better anyway.  He mixes his pitches so well, going 50/50 with the sinker and changeup, all the while mixing in a fastball and an equally untouchable curve.

Maybe hot: Nick Markakis (.464/.545/.536 in 33 PA)

Saturday, 26 July (4:10pm) - Bud Norris @ Chris Young
2014 Stats Norris (8-6)
Young (8-6)
IP 97.2 117.1
ERA 3.78 3.22
FIP 4.53 4.96
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .240/.314/.395 .219/.282/.402

Game notes: Norris missed some time with injury just recently, but begin his second half quite well.  Did allow 8 hits, but just 1 earned run.  He also struck out a season high 8 batters - a solid feat when you consider that the Angels may have the league's top offense.

A reason to watch: Over the past two seasons, the Orioles have gone 15-10 vs. the Mariners and are 6-3 at Safeco.  Keep Brian Matusz out of the game and maybe that'll improve!

Scouting report: Chris Young might have been somewhat forgotten, but he's actually been around for quite some time, debuting in 2004 for the Texas Rangers.  He was once pretty good as a member of the San Diego Padres in 2005, but injuries derailed his career.  His velocity is even lower now than when he started out (averages barely touching 90), but he's regained some of that this season.  He gave up 10 hits to the Angels in his last start, but he's in the midst of a pretty decent run in which he hasn't allowed more than 3 earned runs since early June.

Sunday, 27 July (4:10pm) - Miguel Gonzalez @ Roenis Elias
2014 Stats Gonzalez (5-5)
Elias (8-8)
IP 96.2 118.1
ERA 3.91 4.41
FIP 5.23 4.16
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .268/.341/.466 .245/.318/.400

Game notes: Gonzalez gets the ball in the final game of the series after a 7.2 inning winning effort in his previous outing.  He's now gone three straight games with at least 7 innings pitched - all with 2 or fewer ER allowed.

A reason to watch: Gonzalez's FIP is terrible, but he's pitched really (really!) well in his last three starts.  His July FIP is 5.00, but he's allowed only 5 earned runs in 23.2 innings.  Somehow, it's hard to complain about that.

Scouting report: Admittedly, I had no idea who Roenis Elias was 10 minutes ago, but apparently he's pitched almost 120 innings this season and has put up 1.1 WAR (yes, that's more than any pitcher on the Orioles).  He's not quite a soft-tossing lefty, but his fastball generally sits in the low 90s.  He uses a good mix between four and two-seam fastballs, also throwing a curveball and changeup.  Both secondary offerings have been good throughout his rookie campaign - Elias' curve sports a .403 OPS against.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Jump in now. Here's the FanDuel link.