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Orioles vs. Phillies: Series Preview

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The Orioles take on the Phillies in a two-game interleague series. Can they keep up their recent momentum against one of the league's worst teams?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far:

OK, so it was probably too much to expect the Orioles would sweep the Yankees too but winning the series is good enough...certainly more than I think we all thought this team capable of a couple weeks ago. I'm not sure what happened in May, but overall it looks like this offense has found something again in June. It isn't just the offense either - the defense has been tremendous since getting everyone healthy and playing together again. I don't think I ever appreciated Ryan Flaherty as much as I do now. The Orioles are currently 31-31 and three games behind the Yankees.

The Phillies were projected to be one of the worst team in all of baseball before this year, and well...sometimes those -pre-season projections and predictions are right. The Phillies 22 wins are the lowest in the majors right now, which puts them in last place in the NL East, 12 games behind the Mets. And that's a bad division too, so being 12 games behind already should really say something. Imagine what they'll be like after the trade deadline, when presumably they're going to dump a lot of their talent. I say presumably because that's what everyone thought they'd do last year to, but when Ruben Amaro is your GM, you never know what's going to happen.

Pitching Matchups:

Monday: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Aaron Harang

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Chen

2-4

73

123

4.23

1.178

3.44

Harang

4-7

83

125

3.80

1.096

2.68

Based on those numbers, this looks like a fairly even matchup. Chen finally got another win on the season in his last start against the Red Sox, even though the outing itself wasn't all that great (5IP, 2 ER). The good news is he broke up his streak of giving up a home run in five straight starts. Hopefully that can continue against the Phillies - their biggest home run threat is Ryan Howard, another lefty, so I don't see him hitting any bombs to the flag court (against Chen anyway...).

Harang was having a pretty decent year before his last two starts when he combined to give up 12 earned runs in 11.2 innings pitched. He's pitched one game at Camden Yards back in 2013 when he gave up seven earned runs over five innings when he was with the Mariners.

Tuesday: Chris Tillman vs. Jerome Williams

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Tillman

4-7

65

69

4.70

1.585

1.39

Williams

3-6

69.1

66

5.27

1.630

2.41

Speaking of 2013, could it be we remember that as Tillman's best year? He's been OK since missing a start with an injury, but not great. Certainly not 2013 levels when I used to look forward to his starts because I felt like it almost guaranteed a victory. That's the thing about this year's team - do we look forward to any of these guys starting? I suppose the same could have been said of last year's team too, though in the second half I was always excited to see what Kevin Gausman might be able to deliver. Hopefully he finds his way back into the rotation soon.

You have to like Tillman for the win though against Williams. Here's how many earned runs Williams has given up in each of his last five starts: 5,3,4,4,4. Four of those games included a home run and in none of them did he record more than four strikeouts. His three wins on the year have come against the Marlins, Braves, and Diamondbacks. The Orioles don't need to dominate this game, four or five runs should do it, but if their bats are as hot as they have been it could get ugly.

Other Notes:

- I'm only writing about the first two games against the Phillies, but is this home and home thing considered one series or two? I guess it's technically two, but it feels like one, especially since I don't think they would ever do this with a team halfway across the country. Of course, expanded interleague play hasn't been around that long so I guess you never know what MLB will come up with. Also, is it weird this series isn't against the Nationals this year? I know they're playing the Nats later this season but its three games at each ballpark separated by months in the schedule. I kind of liked it the other way.

- Ryan Howard is not the player he used to be, but he's been a little better than last year and is still a home run threat. He's got a .364 BA in 12 career PAs at Camden Yards, including two home runs. He also has an OPS against lefties more than 200 points lower than against righties, so expect to see a lot of Brian Matusz.

- I was kind of surprised that the Phillies bullpen ranked 8th in the majors by ERA, I kind of expected everything about this team to be terrible.

- I may not be excited about any of our starters, but I love what Manny Machado is doing right now. He started off the season slow, but has worked his BA up to .286 and his OPS up to .825, second on the team to Adam Jones. He leads the team in stolen bases and is third in home runs. Per Baseball Reference, he's now leading the team in WAR with 2.7. It's worth remembering he's only 22 and very likely has hist best years ahead of him. He needs to finish off the season healthy before the Orioles can really think about locking him up long-term, but otherwise I'd be OK with them doing it as soon as possible for whatever the cost is.

Prediction:

This is pretty easy, the Orioles are playing great right now and the Phillies are...not good. I think their momentum continues into this week and they win both games at home.