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Series Preview: Orioles vs. Red Sox, 19 - 21 September

The AL East Champion Orioles host the Red Sox in the final home series of the 2014 regular season. See YOU at the Yard!

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Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Friday, 19 September (7:05pm) - Kevin Gausman vs. Allen Webster
2014 Stats Gausman (7-7)
Webster (4-3)
IP 103.1 46.1
ERA 3.57 6.02
FIP 3.31 4.83
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .262/.323/.364 .259/.369/.394

Game notes: Looking around the AL, the Oakland Athletics hold a slim one game lead over the Seattle Mariners for the final Wild Card spot.  The Kansas City Royals remain a half game back of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.  Back in Birdland, Orioles game one starter Kevin Gausman holds the top FIP among regular Baltimore starters with 3.31 and is tied for second on the staff at 2.1 WAR.  He faced the Red Sox back in early July and notched seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings.

A reason to watch: If the season ended today, the Orioles would face the Tigers in the ALDS, whom they are just 1-5 against this season.  They lay three back on the Los Angeles Angels for the best record in the AL with just 10 games remaining.  Will Buck load up and go for it or will we continue to see him rest regulars such as Nick Markakis and play some different guys out of place (like Steve Pearce in RF)?

Scouting report: Allen Webster is a former 18th round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers and was sent over to the Red Sox in the massive deal that included Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and James Loney.  He has struggled to make a significant contribution over his first 80-some MLB innings thanks to command issues.  Webster is walking 5.05 batters per 9 innings, compared just a 5.44 K/9.  He tosses a somewhat equal value of four-seamers, two-seamers, and changeups.  He also features a slider and a very rare curve.  Webster has struggled with his fastballs, pitching to very high contact rates (batters swing at his fastball out of the zone just 18 percent of the time).  For reference, Clayton Kershaw generates a swing on his outside-the-zone fastball over 26 percent of the time.  Webster's changeup, however, has been pretty effective, inducing limited a contact and a solid swinging strike rate.

Saturday, 20 September (7:05pm) - Chris Tillman vs. Rubby De La Rosa
2014 Stats Tillman (12-5)
De La Rosa (4-7)
IP 194.1 96.0
ERA 3.29 4.31
FIP 4.08 4.20
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .234/.296/.368 .290/.346/.453

Game notes: Tillman has come up big in the second half of the 2014 season, especially within the confines of Camden Yards.  He's currently pitching to a 2nd half ERA of 2.01 and an OPS against of just .567 (compared to .721 in the first half).  He's also allowed just 6 earned runs in four starts against the Red Sox this season.

A reason to watch: Are we looking at the Orioles ALDS game one starter? WAR says it should be Wei-Yin Chen, but Tillman maybe have been a touch more consistent over the entire season.

Scouting report: De La Rosa sits at 4-7 this season through 96 innings.  He has just one victory in his previous 10 starts.  His fastball gets up into the mid-90s and he'll mix in a slider and changeup.  De La Rosa is not really a ground ball pitcher, but his two-seamer has been pretty effective at that in 2014.

Sunday, 21 September (1:35pm) - Miguel Gonzalez vs. Joe Kelly
2014 Stats Gonzalez (9-8)
Kelly (4-4)
IP 148.1 82.0
ERA 3.28 4.28
FIP 4.92 4.59
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .251/.318/.424 .248/.339/.368

Game notes: Miguel Gonzalez is expected to get the ball for the final regular season home game of the 2014 season.  He's 9-8 this year with a 3.28 ERA.  Migo is riding a streak of 6 straight quality starts and is 4-2 over that span.

A reason to watch: With the Orioles securing a playoff spot and missing that Chris Davis guy, top minor league performers, including Christian Walker, are getting a chance to tackle major league pitching.  It's great to see the organization rewarding guys who have made great strides forward in a short period of time.  Walker may or may not ever become and everyday kind of player, but he's getting a chance after a solid year in the minors.

Scouting report: Joe Kelly was dealt to the Red Sox this season in a trade deadline deal for John Lackey after starting a World Series game for the Cardinals last year.  He's a fairly hard thrower (fastball average of 94.4 MPH) who uses a very two-seam heavy arsenal.  His repertoire is balanced with a curve and change up.  The two-seam and curve generally pair up for an effective combo, but he can get into trouble when he goes to his more secondary offerings.  For example, he tosses his curveball to an OPS against of just .406, compared to his slider at 1.098 (wRC+ of over 200).

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