The Story So Far:
The Orioles just took two of three from the Mariners. Though Thursday's win was not pretty, they were able to do enough to win, which is sometimes all you can ask for. Tillman couldn't come back after the rain delay and thus ended the team's streak of eight straight games with at least six innings pitched. But overall the team went 5-4 on the nine game home stand and are now at 18-20, only three games behind the Rays. I mentioned last week how I would have liked to see them win 10 of their next 14 with so many games at home in a short period of time...they got two, so now it's eight of their next twelve. I think they can get more against Miami.
The Marlins have had a disappointing season so far. After their surprise success last year, things haven't been going so well for them, even with one of the best hitters on the planet in Giancarlo Stanton. They're last place in a bad division (the NL East), currently 16-26 and 8.5 games behind the Nationals. When you're doing worse than the Phillies, something's wrong. The team made headlines this week when they fired their manager and the GM, Dan Jennings, decided to take the job himself. Remember that scene in 'Little Big League' when Billy goes in to tell the GM he's going to name himself manager of the club? I know it's not that exact situation, but that's what I think of. It certainly got as much mockery in real-life as they gave Billy in the movie. But none of it seems to have mattered - the team has lost 10 of its last 11 games, including seven in row to Atlanta and Arizona, hardly good teams.
Friday: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Henderson Alvarez
Since I'm into the whole brevity thing, I'm just going to give you an update on how Jimenez has done since I last previewed him for the Angels series: He pitched well in a loss, going seven innings, striking out six while walking none. He gave up two earned runs. His SO/W for this year (3.17) would be a career high by a lot if the season ended today. In fact he's got room to go, his next highest season rate is 2.43. I like where this is going.
Henderson Alvarez was an All-Star last year, going 12-7 with a 2.65 ERA and 111 strikeouts. This year he's 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA and seven strikeouts. His FIP though is 3.59, and I think that's been kept in check by the lack of home runs he's given up (only one on the year). But he's averaging less than six innings a game and hasn't gone past ninety pitches in any starts. Some Orioles have seen him before from his time in Toronto. Adam Jones is 5 for 11 including a home run. Chris Davis is 5 for 10 including a home run. J.J Hardy is 3 for 11 including a double.
Saturday: Mike Wright vs. Dan Haren
Haren's name should be familiar to a lot of people...he's been in the MLB since 2003 and has played on seven teams. His best years are certainly behind him, but he's been decent so far for Miami - he's 4-2 with a 3.47 ERA and a SO/W of 4.13. His FIP is up at 4.45 though, so he may be getting lucky. Unlike Alvarez, he's given up eight home runs this year so maybe the Orioles can get to him, he's definitely a fly ball pitcher. Maybe he would have given up more home runs if he played in more of a hitters park. J.J Hardy is 5 for 15 including three doubles against him. Adam Jones is 4 for 15. Travis Snider is 2 for 3 including a home run.
Mike Wright is obviously coming off a very impressive MLB debut. Do I need to give you his line? Yes? OK: 7.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 6 Ks, 0 BBs and a fastball that nearly hit triple digits. I think he gets some credit for doing that in a must-win situation for the team against a hard hitting team like the Angels in a place like Camden Yards. And I'm glad the team is giving him another start. Obviously it helps that Bud Norris is still on the DL, but this doesn't feel like something they would have done last year.
Sunday: Miguel Gonzalez vs. Tom Koehler
Gonzalez got roughed up a little in his last start against the Mariners, but settled down and finished off pitching pretty well. His ERA went back up over 3.00 with that game, but that's still pretty good and he continues to have a good season. His 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings is particularly good. He hasn't seen many Marlins, but one guy who isn't usually in the Marlins lineup but should be against Gonzalez is Ichiro Suzuki, who's 6 for 22, including three doubles and two home runs.
Koehler is having an OK year. He's 2-3 with a 3.70 ERA. He doesn't have great command - his SO/W is 2.06. He's also another fly ball pitcher, with a below average groundball to flyball ratio but again - in a pitcher's park that may not be as much of a problem. If the Orioles are patient and show good discipline I think this is someone they can get to. He's faced a couple Orioles batters before, but not much.
- The Orioles haven't played the Miami Marlins ever. They played the Florida Marlins (yes, I know its the same team) back in 2006, 2009, and 2010. Their record against them isn't that good, but it wasn't good against anyone back then so let's move on.
- NL park, so we're back to pitchers batting again. Here's the career wRC+ of all pitchers batting in this series, even the ones who play on an NL team and you know, have to do this all the time:
Wright: never batted before!
- Streak Watch: Jimmy Paredes reaching base safely streak is still going, and is now at 22 games. In my Mariners preview, I shorted him a few games because I missed the game against the White Sox when he reached on an error. This is pretty impressive...even after missing the first part of the season, he's already worth 1.2 fWAR, 2nd on the team only to Adam Jones, who's having a pretty great year himself and who's value comes partly from his defense. Paredes is all offense.
- Everyone knows Giancarlo Stanton is a home run machine, but the Marlins' best offensive player might be Dee Gordon who has a .395 BA and a .903 OPS. Fortunately, no one else in their lineup is doing much.
The Marlins had high hopes coming into this season, but so far are just bad. They're probably the worst team the Orioles have seen yet. I'm going to keep it simple: two out of three.
Stats taken from Baseball Reference and Fangraphs