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Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles @ Boston Red Sox, September 8-10 2014

After barely avoiding a sweep by the Rays, the O's head to Boston for three games before returning to Camden Yards for their final September homestand.

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Jim Rogash
Monday, September 8, 7:10 ET: Miguel Gonzalez @ Joe Kelly
Gonzalez Kelly
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 171.1 136.0 124.0 69.2
ERA 3.78 3.38 2.69 4.13
FIP 4.45 4.92 4.01 4.61
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .243/.300/.413 .254/.319/.434 .259/.326/.367 .251/.342/.382

Gonzalez pitched the best game of his career on Wednesday, a complete game shutout in which he allowed just five baserunners and struck out eight. In his three starts prior to that, he'd given up just four runs over 19.1 IP, and he's surrendered more than two runs only once in his last nine outings. The advanced stats may not like how he's doing it - a significant part of Gonzalez's success is his ability to strand runners (his rate: 84%; league average: 73%) - but it'll be a blast if he can keep it up through October.

Kelly was a Cardinal for the first two-plus years of his major league career before coming to Boston (along with Allen Craig) in exchange for John Lackey. He was something of a swing man in St. Louis, giving the team thirty-eight starts and twenty-four relief appearances in his time there. Kelly has a good enough sinker to maintain a career groundball rate of 52%, but he struggles with control (career BB/9: 3.35) and doesn't strike out enough guys to compensate (career K/9: 6.08). He throws fastballs about two-thirds of the time to all batters, using the sinker almost exclusively against lefties but only a little more than the four-seamer against righties. Kelly's primary offspeed pitch is a curveball, which he uses about 20% of the time versus both lefties and fellow righties. Against the former, he throws a fair number of changeups, while the latter see the occasional slider.

Tuesday, September 9, 7:10 ET: Chris Tillman @ Anthony Ranaudo
Tillman Ranaudo
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 206.1 182.2 - 23.1
ERA 3.71 3.40 - 4.63
FIP 4.42 4.08 - 6.51
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .241/.303/.427 .233/.296/.365 - .264/.330/.471

Tillman's had a couple of mediocre outings lately, giving up a total of four runs over eleven innings. That's not terrible, but after he averaged seven innings and one earned run over his previous five starts, it feels worse than it is. Every pitcher has bad nights, and it's good that Tillman has learned how to grind through and give the O's five or six decent innings when his stuff or command is lacking.

Ranaudo has made just four major-league starts in his career, getting his first taste of big-league action on August 1. His peripherals thus far are, frankly, terrible: he's walked ten while striking out only eight, and he's also allowed five home runs in just 23.1 IP. That said, he was a fairly well-regarded prospect until recently, and still made it into Keith Law's list of Boston's prospects before the start of the season. In limited action, Ranaudo has relied heavily on his fastball, throwing the four-seamer over 80% of the time to fellow righties and two-thirds of the time to lefties. Righties and lefties both see a curveball at a 20% rate, but he only uses it as an out pitch against lefties, who also get occasional changeups.

Maybe hot: Mike Napoli (.817 OPS, 24 PA)

Likely not: David Ortiz (.364 OPS, 26 PA)

Wednesday, September 10, 1:35 ET: Wei-Yin Chen @ Brandon Workman
Chen Workman
Stat 2013 YTD 2013 YTD
IP 137.0 161.0 41.2 79.0
ERA 4.07 3.69 4.97 4.90
FIP 4.04 4.05 3.43 4.40
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .272/.321/.440 .271/.306/.439 .272/.331/.420 .251/.318/.405

Chen bounced back from a couple of rough outings by shutting out the Rays over six innings on Friday. He did walk three batters for the second time in three starts, though, which is notable simply because his walk rate is twelfth-best among qualified MLB starters, and he's only walked that many one other time this season, back on April 21. Also making this Wednesday worrisome: current Red Sox have hit Chen hard in his career, with a .357/.397/.524 line over 156 plate appearances.

Workman started the year in Boston's bullpen and has been inconsistent since becoming a full-time rotation member. He's only posted five quality starts in thirteen attemps, though one of those (and his only win) came against the O's on June 10. Workman throws more than 70% fastballs; Brooks Baseball has him with about 50% four-seamers, 5% sinkers, and 20% cutters. His approach against right- and left-handed hitters is nearly identical: his curveball is his preferred out pitch versus both, and while he has a changeup, he rarely uses it, even against lefties.

Maybe hot: Dustin Pedroia (1.344 OPS, 30 PA)

Likely not: Yoenis Cespedes (.545 OPS, 11 PA)

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