During the run-up to this postseason, much of the talk surrounding the Orioles has been of the difficulties the Birds will face to truly overcome the injuries and suspensions to some of the most heralded members of the squad. If you're new here, here is a quick rundown of what people are referring to:
Catcher Matt Wieters' season ended in mid-May. What was once thought to be a minor ligament sprain that just needed rest turned into Tommy John surgery that won't see him back on the field until 2015. Although, I'm sure he and his goatee will be on the bench throughout the playoffs.
Third baseman Manny Machado suffered the third major knee injury of his professional career back in August. Early reports indicated he could be back in a month. Further examination showed that he would need surgery and is due back by Spring Training.
And the cherry on top was infielder Chris Davis' 25-game suspension for violating the MLB drug policy. He tested positive for amphetamines which seems to be the result of the sluggers use of Adderall. Some players are allowed to use the drug, Davis is not one of them. He missed the final three weeks of the season and will also have to sit out eight possible playoff games.
Now that the Orioles have their opponent for the upcoming playoff series; the Detroit Tigers, we can better assess just how much the loss of these three players will cost the team, from an offensive perspective at least. It has already shown how it hurts in the field.
Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley have held their own filling in for Wieters. In fact, they have been downright impressive. On the opposite end of the spectrum, third base is a mess right now. Kelly Johnson can't catch, Jimmy Paredes can't throw and Ryan Flaherty is...something. We know this and that won't change no matter who the O's face. However, pitchers and batters do create histories with one another. How bad will not having these players hurt the Orioles lineup?
Career against the Tigers
The following table shows, using statistics from Baseball Reference, how the missing big three have fared against Detroit throughout their entire careers. It's not pitcher specific, nor home or away. We will get to that later.
Playing in Detroit
This table shows how each player has done at Comerica Park. Once again, it is not split up into individual pitchers or years. These are their career numbers in Detroit.
Dealing with This Year's Staff
Now we get a little more specific. This table breaks down how the fellas have done with all of the pitchers currently on Detroit's roster through their careers. Now, take heed. This includes the likes of former-Oriole Jim Johnson who may not be on the Tiger's ALDS roster, but it gives a better idea of whom the crew would be facing. The numbers are from ESPN.com.
Breaking it Down
And we finish things up by cracking open the roster and highlighting some of the bigger names on the Detroit pitching staff. These are the guns that the Orioles need to get through in order to get to the more-battered parts of the Detroit bullpen. Now, just like the Orioles, the Tigers have not set their ALDS roster yet. So, these are the men that have featured for them most of the year.
For example, it's possible, maybe likely, that Anibal Sanchez doesn't even make the squad. He has just returned from a pectoral strain that kept him out almost two months. Since coming back, he has thrown just one inning in relief.
There is also talk of Rick Porcello going to the 'pen for October so it's possible that he doesn't have quite as much of an influence.
It's going to be small sample sizes pretty much across the board. I'm aware of it. Just go with it.
|Anibal Sanchez||never faced||--/--/--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
While Machado's glove would be highly coveted at this stage of the season, he has performed poorly in his young career against the AL Central champions. No matter how you slice it, Manny has had a rough go of it. The Tigers are the team Machado has posted his lowest OPS and slugging percentage against in the entire American League, and his second lowest batting average.
Wieters has been solid across the board. For a catcher, he has been fantastic, albeit unlucky. His batting average on balls in play against the Tigers is a bit low. The only one of the starters he has struggled with is Verlander, and that goes back a few years to when the Detroit righty was the best pitcher in the world. His bat is, and has been, missed, but, as mentioned above, Hundley and Joseph have made it easier to forget Wieters, at least a little bit.
It can be frustrating to look at Davis' numbers for Oriole fans. The big guy is a power threat (Duh!) on the most home run-heavy team in the league. He has had success against quite a lot of the Detroit pitchers. And he is the only one of the trio that is perfectly healthy. It just makes you want to shake him and say "Why the heck did you have to take Adderall. ya big galoot?" The chance that the O's could inject him into the roster later on into the playoffs could prove to be huge.
For me, Crush is the biggest void right now. He has had a poor season by his standards. His batting average on balls in play has suffered from his high fly ball rate and he strikes out way too much. But he can hit balls out of the ballpark. That is what the Orioles do, and taking away one of their biggest threats in that department hampers them greatly. Not to mention, he is not bad in the field at third. It's safe to assume his throws will at least make it to first base.