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Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, July 29-31 2014

After a 6-4 West Coast road trip and a well-deserved day off, the O's invite the teams they just faced to Camden Yards for a six-game homestand, beginning with the Angels.

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Lisa Blumenfeld
Tuesday, July 29, 7:05 ET: Chris Tillman vs. Jered Weaver
Tillman Weaver
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 206.1 131.0 154.1 139.1
ERA 3.71 3.92 3.27 3.36
FIP 4.42 4.42 3.82 3.97
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .241/.303/.427 .247/.319/.386 .237/.289/.382 .227/.285/.362

This one's a rematch of last Wednesday's game, which the Orioles lost due to a bullpen meltdown. Tillman surrendered one run in six innings in that game, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out three. While that K:BB ratio isn't the best, he got the job done, and a similar performance tonight would be great. Tillman's thrown four consecutive quality starts, the worst a 6.2-inning, 3-run effort. He had a similar four-game stretch in June; hopefully he can extend this one for another game.

Weaver pitched very well his last time out, holding the Orioles to two runs over eight innings and striking out six. I commented on his higher-than-usual walk rate in last week's preview, which has dropped a bit since he didn't walk any O's last week. Speaking of last week's preview, shameless re-use of last week's scouting report follows: Weaver takes a very different approach depending on batter handedness. Against fellow righties, he throws around 40% four-seam fastballs, 10% sinkers, and an even mix of his three offspeed pitches (slider, curve, and changeup). Versus lefties, the four-seamer and sinker swap roles, and the slider nearly disappears, with the curve and change each being thrown a bit more often.

Maybe hot: Adam Jones (.918 OPS, 22 PA)

Likely not: J.J. Hardy (.200 OPS, 20 PA)

Wednesday, July 30, 7:05 ET: Kevin Gausman vs. Garrett Richards
Gausman Richards
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 47.2 49.0 145.0 137.1
ERA 5.66 3.67 4.16 2.62
FIP 3.99 3.40 3.66 2.65
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .276/.322/.470 .277/.340/.375 .269/.321/.377 .196/.273/.261

Last week against Seattle, Gausman had his best start since early June, at least in terms of results, as he gave up just one run over 6.2 IP. He's never faced the Angels before, which could work to his advantage if video footage of his stuff proves inadequate. Gausman's season-to-date peripherals look pretty good, but he's gotten pretty lucky with avoiding home runs so far; xFIP suggests that he should have allowed a few more, bumping his ERA to something more like 4.26.

Richards is, well, really good, at least this year. He may be benefiting from some good fortune (.263 BABiP, 4.0 HR/FB%), but he's striking out 25% of batters he faces while walking 8% and getting 50% groundballs. That's a recipe for successful pitching if there ever was one. The Orioles haven't seen Richards as a starter yet, only facing him in relief a couple of times over the past several years. Much like Weaver, the righty flips his fastball ratios depending on the opposing batter. Lefties see 42% sinkers and 26% four-seamers, while righties get 48% four-seamers and 14% sinkers. Richards throws hard, so throwing a lot of fastballs is probably a good plan. He supplements the heaters with a slider and very occasional curveball.

Thursday, July 31, 7:05 ET: Bud Norris vs. Tyler Skaggs
Norris Skaggs
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 176.2 102.2 38.2 108.1
ERA 4.18 3.94 5.12 4.49
FIP 3.86 4.46 4.86 3.64
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .283/.349/.429 .243/.320/.398 .252/.324/.457 .262/.312/.381

Norris pitched well against the Angels last week, giving up two runs (one earned) in 6.2 IP and striking out eight, his season high. He didn't fare as well against the Mariners, surrendering four runs over five innings.

Skaggs has a fairly ugly ERA, but his peripherals look solid enough: a slightly below-average strikeout rate (17.6%) to go with better-than-average walk (6.3%) and groundball (50.3%) rates. His BABiP and HR/FB% are both right around league-average, so where does the ERA come from? Skaggs has struggled with men on base this season, stranding on 63.3% of them (versus 73% for the league). Whether he's having trouble pitching from the stretch, overusing his curveball, or just getting unlucky is hard to say. Skaggs throws lots of fastballs, using them roughly two-thirds of the time against both righties and lefties. Against righties, he throws an even mix of four-seamers and sinkers, using his curveball as his out pitch and supplementing it with some changeups. Versus fellow lefties, he throws mostly four-seamers and uses the curveball more, rarely showing the changeup.

Maybe hot: David Freese (.978 OPS, 23 PA)

Likely not: Albert Pujols (.545 OPS, 45 PA)

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.