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Series Preview: Orioles @ Indians, 15 - 17 August

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The Orioles took two games from the Yankees to further pad the AL East division lead. They'll look to continue the success this weekend in Cleveland.

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Winning the division might not be a pie-in-the-sky vision after all
Winning the division might not be a pie-in-the-sky vision after all
Patrick McDermott
Friday, 15 August (7:05pm) - Wei-Yin Chen @ Corey Kluber
2014 Stats Chen (12-4)
Kluber (13-6)
IP 129.1 171.2
ERA 3.90 2.46
FIP 4.16 2.42
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .277/.310/.454 .231/.276/.337

Game notes: Chen had a five game winning streak snapped during his last outing in Toronto.  It was the first time since June he had allowed more than three earned runs in a start.  Cleveland has rocked Chen in two starts, but he's yet to pitch at Progressive Field.  In a very limited sample, current members of the Indians lineup have compiled a .743 OPS against.

A reason to watch: The Orioles have a chance to improve to 20 games above .500 - a mark they didn't achieve until mid-September during the 2012 season.

Scouting report: Corey Kluber has been pretty filthy this season.  He had a rough April, kicking off the season with a 4.14 ERA and a .752 OPS against, but he's been dominant since.  The last time he went fewer than six innings in a start was mid-June.  His sinker gets up into the mid-90s (average of 93) and he has a power slider that regularly touches 90.  Both his slider and curve are phenomenal pitches - the curve isn't often in the zone, but still generates a solid swing rate (and a low contact rate).  Lefties hit better against Kluber, but that's all relative since RHB barely crack the .500 OPS mark.  Over 62 plate appearances, the Orioles lineup has an .849 OPS against.

Saturday, 16 August (7:05pm) - Ubaldo Jimenez @ Carlos Carrasco
2014 Stats Jimenez (4-8)
Carrasco (4-4)
IP 105.2 70.0
ERA 4.51 3.60
FIP 4.72 3.07
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .251/.358/.393 .233/.287/.329

Game notes: Ubaldo's first start against his former team did not go as planned - he lasted just four innings and was tagged for five earned runs.  He did not allow a home run, but the five walks allowed proved to be pretty devastating.  He'll get another shot on Saturday night, which will also be his second start since returning from the disabled list with a sprained ankle.

A reason to watch: The Orioles playoff odds have improved to 93.9 percent.  All without a 2+ WAR pitcher and 100+ innings from a guy walking five and half batters per nine innings.

Scouting report: While Carrasco has 31 appearances this season, he's been limited to just five starts.  He started the first four games of the season without great success and was immediately moved to the bullpen.  He returned to the rotation last week against the New York Yankees and tossed five shutout innings.  He has pretty good heat when appearing out of the bullpen, although that's toned down when he starts.  His slider generates a swinging strike rate of almost 30 percent.

Sunday, 17 August (1:05pm) - Kevin Gausman @ T.J. House
2014 Stats Gausman
House (1-3)
IP 67.0 61.0
ERA 3.90 4.13
FIP 3.50 4.16
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .278/.340/.369 .301/.353/.454

Game notes: Gausman is third among the Orioles pitching staff with 1.3 WAR, yet has thrown just 67 innings.  He took a loss the last time around after allowing 8 hits and 3 earned runs in 5 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.

A reason to watch: Will J.J. Hardy return to the lineup?  It's hard to imagine going forward with an infield of Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, and Ryan Flaherty.

Scouting report: House made his major league debut back in May after becoming the 501st overall pick in the 2008 draft.  His really name is Glenn Anthony House.  He's a relatively soft-tossing lefty who averages about 90 MPH when throwing a fastball.  House's stuff has been, for the most part, hittable, although he does get good results with his slider.

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.