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Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles @ Chicago White Sox, August 18-20 2014

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After rallying on Sunday afternoon to avoid a sweep in Cleveland, the O's move to Chicago, where they'll take on both of the Windy City's teams, beginning with the White Sox.

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Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Monday, 18 August, 8:10 ET: Bud Norris @ Chris Sale
Norris Sale
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 176.2 120.0 214.1 130.0
ERA 4.18 3.75 3.07 2.01
FIP 3.86 4.25 3.17 2.27
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .283/.349/.429 .251/.323/.399 .230/.282/.354 .196/.246/.275

Norris's last several outings have been a mixed bag. He's kept the O's within striking distance, but if you add up three of his last four starts, he's surrendered nine runs over just 15.1 IP. On the plus side, he had that gem of seven scoreless innings against the Angels on July 31, and despite being unable to get deep into games, he's struck out 21 over 22.1 IP in his last four.

Despite losing about a month in April/May to an elbow strain, Sale is continuing a great season, striking out 30% of batters he faces and walking under 5%. The O's managed two runs over six innings against him in late June (and eventually won that game on Chris Davis's dramatic pinch-hit homer). Sale throws fastballs roughly half of the time to batters of both handedness, about 40% four-seamers to 12% two-seamers. Against fellow lefties, Sale throws his slider most of the rest of the time once he gets ahead in the count, and he'll occasionally use his changeup when behind. Versus righties, the changeup is his main secondary offering, and he'll use it in any count, while using the slider sparingly.

Tuesday, August 19, 8:10 ET: Chris Tillman @ Jose Quintana
Tillman Quintana
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 206.1 156.2 200.0 154.2
ERA 3.71 3.68 3.51 3.14
FIP 4.42 4.21 3.82 2.88
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .241/.303/.427 .240/.304/.380 .247/.300/.395 .246/.299/.337

Tillman's pitched quite well of late, with just one non-quality start in his last eight games. In his last three outings, he's given up just four runs over 20.2 IP. He's also walked two or fewer batters in each of his last six starts, and one or fewer in five of those.

Quintana went on quite a roll from mid-June through July, giving the White Sox better-than-minimum quality starts in seven of eight outings. That stretch included a seven-inning, one-run, eight-strikeout performance at Camden Yards on June 24. Quintana's last few starts haven't been quite as good, but he seems to have been victimized by unfortunate sequencing (four runs in 6.2 IP against the Giants despite allowing only six baserunners) and poor defense (five runs, two earned over 10.2 IP against the Mariners and Twins). Quintana uses fastballs for about 60% of his pitches to both right- and left-handed hitters, and even more often when he gets behind in the count. Against fellow lefties, he goes to his curveball the rest of the time, while against righties, he throws his curve and changeup in equal numbers.

Wednesday, August 20, 8:10 ET: Wei-Yin Chen @ Hector Noesi
Chen Noesi
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 137.0 136.1 27.1 126.1
ERA 4.07 3.76 6.59 4.84
FIP 4.04 4.14 4.36 4.69
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .272/.321/.440 .272/.305/.446 .353/.414/.521 .272/.334/.432

Chen's had a solid run of late, managing seven-plus innings and one or fewer runs in three of his last four games. He's just two outs from reaching the innings mark he set last season, making now an interesting time to compare his peripherals. Chen's strikeout rate is essentially the same (2013: 18.2%; 2014: 18.0%), but his walk rate is greatly reduced (6.8% -> 4.2%). He's also managed to increase his groundball percentage (34.4% -> 41.1%), so while he's surrendering more home runs when the ball gets into the air (9.9% -> 12.9%), he may be getting unlucky in that regard this season (3.66 xFIP).

Noesi has already played for three different teams this year, beginning the season as a Mariner before spending ten days in the Rangers organization and finally being claimed by Chicago in late April. The White Sox are the only team that's used him as a starter in 2014, and he's settled down into an acceptable back-end rotation piece. He's pretty inconsistent, having put together three quality starts in a row only once this season, but he did hold the O's to two runs over seven innings in late June. Noesi throws fastballs about 60% of the time, mostly four-seamers, though he does occasionally add some sink or cut. His main offspeed offering is a changeup, and lefties will see some curveballs as well, while fellow righties get nearly as many changeups but sliders rather than curves.

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