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Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles @ Toronto Blue Jays, August 5-7 2014

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After a 4-2 homestand and a win in a makeup game at Nationals Park, the O's head to Toronto for a brief three-game road trip.

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Rob Carr
Tuesday, August 5, 7:07 ET: Bud Norris @ Mark Buehrle
Norris Buehrle
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 176.2 109.2 203.2 142.0
ERA 4.18 3.69 4.15 3.11
FIP 3.86 4.36 4.10 3.81
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .283/.349/.429 .248/.322/.395 .276/.324/.430 .276/.321/.410

Norris has made three starts since the All-Star break, pitching quite well in two games against the Angels, but struggling against the Mariners. His current ERA is pretty nice, but his peripherals suggest some luck involved, as he has a career-low BABiP (.279) and an above-average strand rate.

Buehrle this year looks more like the pitcher Toronto thought they were getting after their big trade with the Marlins in the '12-'13 offseason. His current ERA is impressive, but even someone who has such a track record of defying his peripherals probably can't keep the gap quite so large all year. Buehrle throws three fastballs (four-seamer, sinker, and cutter), plus a curveball and changeup. He pitches lefties and righties pretty similarly, using his fastballs nearly two-thirds of the time and his change a little more than his curve. The main difference is that he goes to his sinker as an out pitch against righties, while he prefers his changeup late in the count against fellow lefties.

Maybe hot: Nick Markakis (1.154 OPS, 50 PA), Delmon Young (1.108 OPS, 50 PA)

Likely not: J.J. Hardy (.357 OPS, 29 PA), Nelson Cruz (.170 OPS, 18 PA)

Wednesday, August 6, 7:07 ET: Wei-Yin Chen @ Drew Hutchison
Chen Hutchison
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 137.0 124.1 - 122.2
ERA 4.07 3.76 - 4.62
FIP 4.04 4.15 - 3.94
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .272/.321/.440 .274/.306/.451 - .263/.323/.424

Chen is coming off of two great starts against Seattle, allowing just one run over 15.1 IP and striking out eleven while walking only two. Oddly enough, he hasn't made a start against Toronto since late 2012. Chen's FIP-ERA difference might suggest he's benefited from some luck, but his HR/FB% is still a little high (12.7%). His xFIP, which adjusts FIP based on a league-average home run rate, is 3.70, in line with his ERA.

Hutchison lost part of 2012 and most of 2013 to Tommy John surgery, not seeing any time in the majors last year. His peripherals this year are decent (strikeout and walk rates right around the league average), but his ERA isn't, despite the usual indicators of luck (BABiP, LOB%, HR/FB%) suggesting nothing out of the ordinary. The righty throws mostly four-seam fastballs a little over half of the time to all hitters, adding the occasional two-seamer. Against righties, he'll also turn to his slider in all counts, while against lefties, he saves it for when he's ahead in the count or has two strikes, mixing in changeups instead in other counts.

Thursday, August 7, 7:07 ET: Miguel Gonzalez @ J.A. Happ
Gonzalez Happ
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 171.1 107.2 92.2 95.1
ERA 3.78 3.93 4.56 4.34
FIP 4.45 5.30 4.31 4.25
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .243/.300/.413 .274/.343/.469 .250/.333/.401 .270/.337/.430

Gonzalez has managed two quality starts in three outings since the All-Star break, giving up three runs over 13.2 on the West Coast but allowing four runs in five innings at Camden Yards on Saturday. All things considered, that's pretty good, since he's struck out only seven and walked just as many over that span. Gonzalez's FIP frightens me, folks. Like Chen, he's perhaps had some tough luck with home runs (13.5% HR/FB, 4.65 xFIP), but a lot of his apparent success this year is in his well-above-average strand rate (81.9% LOB).

After suffering some lower back issues and starting off the season in Toronto's bullpen, Happ's been a fairly typical back-end starter. His numbers aren't great, and he averages less than six innings per start, but he's stuck in the rotation since early May. The Orioles saw him back in June and managed only one run over six innings. Happ throws lots of fastballs, mostly four-seamers, but some sinkers and cutters, too. Fellow lefties see offspeed stuff just 10% of the time, and while righties see changeups more often, Happ still throws over 75% fastballs to them.

Maybe hot: Adam Jones (1.038 OPS, 14 PA)

Likely not: Delmon Young (.400 OPS, 10 PA)

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