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Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays, September 15-17 2014

After taking three of four from the Yankees, including a pair of walk-off wins, the Orioles face the Blue Jays. If they win the series, they will clinch the American League East division title.

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Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Monday, September 15, 7:05 ET: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Marcus Stroman
Chen Stroman
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 137.0 168.0 - 114.2
ERA 4.07 3.59 - 3.61
FIP 4.04 4.04 - 2.87
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .272/.321/.440 .265/.300/.436 - .245/.291/.339

After a couple of rocky outings against the Rays and Twins, Chen has pitched well in his last two starts, giving up just one run (a solo homer, of course) over thirteen innings. Right now, his FIP is equal to last year's, but he's of course getting there differently, walking fewer while surrendering more home runs. Some of the more complex ERA estimators, such as xFIP (3.76) and SIERA (3.85), which factor in HR/FB% and ball-in-play types, respectively, suggest that his ERA isn't just lucky.

Stroman began his rookie season in Toronto's bullpen before switching to starting full-time at the end of May. He started off well, with nine of his first eleven starts being "quality" ones, but then had a messy August, giving up five-plus runs in three of five games. His last start was a gem, though, as he shut out the Cubs for his second complete game, limiting them to three hits and striking out eight. Stroman throws lots of fastballs, roughly 40% four-seamers and 15% each sinkers and cutters to all batters. His curveball is his out pitch, again regardless of batter handedness, and he throws it 16% of the time. Lefties will also see changeups early in the count, while fellow righties will get the odd slider regardless of count.

Tuesday, September 16, 7:05 ET: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Drew Hutchison
Jimenez Hutchison
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 182.2 114.1 - 169.1
ERA 3.30 4.96 - 4.36
FIP 3.43 4.81 - 3.78
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .239/.317/.367 .252/.360/.401 - .246/.307/.410

Jimenez will be making his first start since August 16, and he's only pitched twice since then. In a closer race, I'd be questioning Buck's judgment here, but with a large division lead and little chance of passing the Angels for MLB's best record, there isn't much to lose in turning to Jimenez over McFarland, Brach, Saunders, or someone not currently on the active roster.

Hutchison's been on a bit of a roll lately, recording four straight quality starts, and giving up just five runs in those outings while striking out 32 in 25.1 IP. Of the Orioles with fifteen-plus plate appearances against him (Markakis, Jones, Hardy, and Cruz), all have a sub-.550 OPS. Hutchison throws 50% four-seam fastballs, but otherwise takes different approaches against lefties and righties. The former get about 20% each sinkers and changeups, plus about 10% sliders, mostly once Hutchison's already ahead in the count. Fellow righties see 35% sliders and 10% sinkers, with little variance depending on count.

Maybe hot: Colby Rasmus (1.155 OPS, 29 PA)

Likely not: Jose Bautista (.279 OPS, 26 PA)

Wednesday, September 17, 7:05 ET: Bud Norris vs. J.A. Happ
Norris Happ
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 176.2 154.0 92.2 138.2
ERA 4.18 3.74 4.56 4.28
FIP 3.86 4.17 4.31 4.17
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .283/.349/.429 .246/.315/.396 .250/.333/.401 .262/.322/.445

Norris's last outing was a gem; he threw seven scoreless innings against the Yankees and struck out ten. In the three starts before that, he twice gave up four runs in six innings to the Rays, but shut out the Reds for six in the other.

Happ's most recent start was his best in a while, a one-run, seven-inning, seven-strikeout affair. Prior to that, he hovered around the line for quality starts for three outings, giving up ten runs over nineteen innings. Happ throws a lot of fastballs, using offspeed pitches just 12% of the time against fellow lefties and 23% of the time versus righties. He uses his four-seamer most often (51% vs. R, 63% vs. L), and his sinker and cutter another 25% of the time (lefties see an even mix, while righties get mostly sinkers). Righties get occasional changeups in all counts, and both get curevballs about 12% of the time, mostly as an out pitch.

Maybe hot: Kelly Johnson (1.000 OPS, 10 PA), Dioner Navarro (1.113 OPS, 17 PA)

Likely not: Delmon Young (.308 OPS, 13 PA), Jose Bautista (.258 OPS, 12 PA)

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