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Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. Tampa Bay Rays, August 25-28 2014

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Following a disappointing sweep by the Cubs, the Orioles return to the friendly confines of Camden Yards for an eleven-game homestand, beginning with four against the Rays.

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Jonathan Daniel
Monday, August 25, 7:05 ET: Chris Tillman vs. Jake Odorizzi
Tillman Odorizzi
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 206.1 164.2 29.2 136.1
ERA 3.71 3.55 3.94 3.83
FIP 4.42 4.15 3.89 3.25
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .241/.303/.427 .235/.298/.374 .252/.311/.432 .239/.303/.368

Tillman continued his strong August last time out, throwing eight innings of one-run ball and striking out nine while allowing just four baserunners. In the month thus far, he's totaled 28.2 IP with 25 strikeouts against just five runs and two walks.

Odorizzi's having a solid year, with his peripherals indicating that he deserves a better ERA than his current mark - which is still quite good for a rookie. He's striking out more than a batter per inning (26.4 K%), and while his walk rate is a little above average, the strikeouts more than make up for that. Odorizzi throws four-seam fastballs about 60% of the time to all batters. Fellow righties get a roughly even mix of sliders and splitters for the remainder of pitches they see, plus the very occasional first-pitch curveball. Lefties see that first-pitch curve a bit more often, but almost never get the slider, instead seeing many more splitters.

Maybe hot: Evan Longoria (1.485 OPS, 33 PA)

Likely not: Desmond Jennings (.293 OPS, 21 PA)

Tuesday, August 26, 7:05 ET: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Alex Cobb
Chen Cobb
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 137.0 143.2 143.1 122.2
ERA 4.07 3.76 2.76 3.01
FIP 4.04 4.10 3.36 3.25
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .272/.321/.440 .269/.302/.444 .228/.291/.353 .232/.297/.326

Chen was solid again in Chicago on Wednesday, giving up three runs over 7.1 IP and striking out seven. The long ball continues to be a problem for him, as he's surrendered one in each of his last three starts. Fortunately, his walk rate (1.57 BB/9, 4.2 BB%) helps ensure that most of those are solo shots.

Cobb hasn't allowed a run in either of his last two starts, pitching 14.1 innings and striking out fourteen. He sports above-average peripherals across the board; his strikeout, walk, home run, and groundball rates are all at least a tick better than the norm for the league. Cobb throws fewer fastballs than most starters. The righty uses his sinker just one-third of the time against lefties, preferring his put-away splitter (39%) and first-pitch curveball (24%). Righties see a few more sinkers, but still see the same general pattern.

Maybe hot: Ben Zobrist (.906 OPS, 33 PA)

Likely not: Evan Longoria (.611 OPS, 21 PA)

Wednesday, August 27, 7:05 ET: Kevin Gausman vs. Drew Smyly
Gausman Smyly
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 47.2 78.0 76.0 134.1
ERA 5.66 3.81 2.37 3.42
FIP 3.99 3.71 2.31 3.77
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .276/.322/.470 .268/.332/.378 .219/.265/.336 .250/.301/.408

Gausman has been merely okay of late, throwing just sixteen innings over his last three starts and giving up seven runs in that span. If there's a silver lining, it's that he also struck out fifteen batters in those sixteen innings.

Smyly threw a two-hit shutout on Friday and surrendered just two runs over 14.2 IP in his two prior starts. The lefty throws four-seam fastballs about half the time to all batters, plus a curveball about 30% of the time. Fellow southpaws get cutters for the other 20%, while righties see fewer cutters in exchange for the odd changeup.

Thursday, August 28, 7:05 ET: Bud Norris vs. Jeremy Hellickson
Norris Hellickson
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 176.2 129.0 174.0 38.0
ERA 4.18 3.91 5.17 2.61
FIP 3.86 4.08 4.22 3.22
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .283/.349/.429 .250/.320/.395 .274/.325/.450 .224/.275/.336

Norris pitched well against the White Sox last Monday but had his game on Saturday cut short by a long rain delay. He gave up four runs in that abbreviated start, but some of that was poor luck on ground balls, and got strikeouts for four of the six outs he recorded.

Hellickson began the season on the disabled list due to elbow surgery and didn't start a major-league game until July. It took a few outings before he began to go deep into games, but he's given the Rays quality starts in three of his last four. Hellickson throws a combination of four-seam fastballs and sinkers for about half of his pitches, and curveballs and changeups for the other half. Lefties see fewer sinkers and more curveballs than righties, but otherwise, his approach is fairly similar.

Maybe hot: James Loney (1.202 OPS, 22 PA), Adam Jones (.992 OPS, 43 PA)

Likely not: Evan Longoria (.422 OPS, 10 PA), Nick Markakis (.645 OPS, 40 PA)

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