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Series Preview: Orioles @ Cubs, 22 - 24 August

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Following a sweep of the White Sox, the Orioles travel across town for a series with the Cubs.

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Can the Orioles take down two former teammates?
Can the Orioles take down two former teammates?
Jonathan Daniel
Friday, 22 August (2:20pm) - Kevin Gausman @ Jake Arrieta
2014 Stats Gausman (7-4)
Arrieta (6-4)
IP 73.0 117.2
ERA 3.70 2.61
FIP 3.58 2.31
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .267/.336/.356 .209/.263/.287

Game notes: The Orioles will play at Wrigley for just the second time in the organization's history.  They most recently played there in 2008, which resulted in a 2-1 series win.  Back then, Gausman was still 4 years away from wearing an O's uniform.  Speaking of Goose, he's coming off of a 2 hit, 6 inning performance against the Cleveland Indians.  He'll make his 4th career interleague start.

A reason to watch: What is vs. what could have been.  Arrieta was once among a promising group of young starters for the Orioles, but never seemed to put it all together before getting shipped out last season (along with Pedro Strop).  He's going to face Kevin Gausman, the "newer" future of the Orioles rotation.  Gausman, along with Dylan Bundy and quite possibly Chris Tillman, represent the more immediate look of the O's rotation.  It's a certainly a different look from Tillman, Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Troy Patton, and Brad Bergesen.  Oh and some kid named Zach Britton.

Scouting report: The former Orioles 5th round pick out of TCU has accumulated 3.5 WAR in 117.1 innings.  That's more than his total from 4 partial seasons with the Orioles.  It's almost depressing to write that - even worse when you notice he's pitching to career-best K/9, BB/9, HR/FB%, and GB% numbers.  Obviously the move to the NL was beneficial for the 28 year old.  Arrieta utilizes an almost equal mix of sinkers, sliders, four-seamers, and curves.  His fastball velocity remains in the low-mid 90s, but he's pitching to career-high slider velocity.  Considering the pitch was never quite affective in the AL, the extra velocity might have helped it become Arrieta's best offering.

Saturday, 23 August (2:20pm) - Bud Norris @ Kyle Hendricks
2014 Stats Norris (11-7)
Hendricks (5-1)
IP 127.0 48.2
ERA 3.69 1.66
FIP 4.13 3.54
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .245/.316/.388 .202/.258/.283

Game notes: Norris has pitched about 36 innings in the second half and has been pretty impressive.  It's an incredibly small sample, but he's 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA (2.61 FIP).  He's getting more ground balls and has ratcheted up his control.  He's fresh off a solid 7 inning start against the Chicago White Sox.

A reason to watch: It might be old and pitchers have to hit when they play here, but Wrigley Field has played host to a lot of baseball history.  The Orioles will make just their second appearance at the league's 2nd oldest ballpark.

Scouting report: Rookie Kyle Hendricks will make his eight career start in the middle game of the series.  He's a former 8th round pick of the Texas Rangers and was traded to Chicago in 2012 for Ryan Dempster.  All seven starts to date have lasted at least 6 innings and 6 of the 7 have been quality starts.  He does not have top fastball velocity, but he does have solid command and regularly mixes in his curve, cutter, and changeup.

Sunday, 24 August (2:20pm) - Miguel Gonzalez @ Tsuyoshi Wada
2014 Stats Gonzalez (6-6)
Wada (3-1)
IP 113.2 39.1
ERA 3.80 2.75
FIP 5.31 3.62
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .270/.341/.465 .243/.294/.426

Game notes: Gonzalez returns to the rotation following the decision to move Ubaldo Jimenez to the bullpen.  He has not started a major league game since August 7th, a 6 inning effort against the Toronto Blue Jays.  He allowed 1 ER (a solo homer) and 4 hits during that start.

A reason to watch: The Cubs are getting some fine use out of Oriole cast-offs.  You might avoid this game because of the soft-tossing lefty hex, but it's a good chance to catch up with a former Oriole (even if he never pitched for the big club).

Scouting report: The Orioles signed Wada out of Japan in 2011 and he promptly blew out his arm.  He spent 2013 at AAA and never really had any quality success.  The Orioles granted him free agency, after which he signed with the Cubs.  He has now made 7 starts for Chicago and has put up decent numbers.  His fastball generally tops out in the high 80s and he mixes in a slider, change, and curve.

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