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Orioles vs. Indians: Series Preview

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The Orioles return home for a three game series against the Indians...can they beat them in consecutive series?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far:

It wasn't always pretty up in Boston. The O's did get two of three, but no starter was able to go six innings and that 2nd game may have been thrown away on two errors in one costly inning. They also allowed as many runs as they scored (15) in the series. But still, you can't argue with results and the Orioles improved their record by leaving town one game better over .500 then when they got there. That's progress. They're currently two games behind the division leading Rays, with Toronto right there with them.

While the Orioles season turn-around started the last time they saw the Indians in Cleveland, the same has not been true for the Tribe who are now 33-38, in fourth place in their division and nine games out of first. They've gone 6-8 since the Orioles left Cleveland. In a tough division, they need to get something going quick before their season is effectively over.

Pitching Matchups:

Friday: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Corey Kluber

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Chen

3-4

81.0

135

3.93

1.123

3.74

Kluber

3-9

103.2

108

2.66

1.148

5.32

Wei-Yin Chen will make his return after being optioned following his last start, where he went eight innings in one of his best starts of the season. A couple things here: First, I read that the biggest reason Chen was optioned was that his next start would have been against the Blue Jays who have been crushing left-handed pitching. This is exactly the kind of Buck Showalter move people always talk about. Days before that series started, he had the foresight to see it coming. And the O's won 2 of 3 in Toronto so again, you can't argue with results. Of course Chen voiced his frustration with this on Twitter, probably because the reason the Orioles gave was they thought he was too fatigued after that eight inning outing. I'm sure Chen's frustration had more to do with them putting something like that out there when he's due to be a free agent this year. Chen made a start in Frederick to keep him on a schedule and now he'll be back. It all seems pretty harmless, but should the team have done it? Is squeezing everything out of every player on the team worth alienating them like this? I don't know. They probably figure they have no chance (or have no plans) to sign Chen back next year anyway, so they're not worried about it. I have no doubt Chen's going to go out there and pitch the best game he can. The Indians have a lineup full of lefties and switch hitter, so it seems like he's coming back right in time.

Kluber has had an interesting year. Last season he led the league in wins (18) (and won the Cy Young) and this year he leads it in losses (9). More proof wins and losses mean very little for a hitter: His FIP is up very slightly, but otherwise his stats look almost identical to last year. The biggest difference seems to be in home runs - his HR/FB% is 6.4 this year, compared to 5.1 last year. Of course, 6.4 is much more in line with his career average - so maybe this is regression. Can the Orioles get some homers off him? I don't know - according to MLB.com, no one in the O's lineup has ever gotten a home run off him. This guy is good, the Orioles will need to be on their game.

Saturday: Chris Tillman vs. Cory Anderson

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Tillman

5-7

72.1

63

5.09

1.604

1.39

Anderson

0-0

7.2

-

2.45

0.913

4.00

Anderson made his MLB debut in his last start against the Rays. He didn't get the win, but he pitched 7.2 scoreless innings. Why did the Indians need to call up a new pitcher? Because they released Shaun Marcum last week, who the Orioles beat up on pretty well when they were up in Cleveland. Hopefully they can find the same success against his replacement.

One day I'm going write about Tillman starting without dreading doing so. This is my first year on Camden Chat, so I may have missed the boat on that one. Anyway - after three consecutive wins, Tillman only lasted 1.2 innings against the Blue Jays in his last outing. That second inning definitely got away from him, but the Blue Jays will do that to you. Also, the Orioles had just knocked out the Jays starter in that same inning after scoring a bunch of runs, so maybe Buck felt like he had some leeway to just get to the bullpen (which has been very good recently) and try to get the win. It almost didn't work, but it did. I think its probably safe to say Tillman will do better this time out, he did just pitch 6.1 innings in Cleveland during that last series. He should look out for Jason Kipnis (who doesn't?) who has four walks and three hits against him in 12 plate appearances.

Oh yeah, note the 7:15 start time for this game. It's on Fox again. That's cool, though if the Orioles are going to be getting more national/regional games, can we get more on ESPN? I personally like their coverage better.

Sunday: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Trevor Bauer

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Jimenez

6-3

79.1

114

3.32

1.311

3.04

Bauer

6-4

84.0

102

3.82

1.333

2.07

Jimenez took the loss in his last start against the Indians, though he pitched pretty well by only giving up one run. He did hand out six walks, which is not good. That was twice his second highest total on the season though - was it a fluke or do the Indians just know how to get walks against him? Again though, he's been pretty good overall. I love all the strikeouts he's been getting, but his pitch efficiency has been down this month. He's using 18.4 pitches per inning in June compared to 15.7 in May. Will an Orioles starter be able to go seven innings again this season? It's only happened once this month - ONCE - and that was by Chen against the Phillies, who let's face it are a AAA team.

Trevor Bauer seems like an even matchup vs. Jimenez based on this season's stats. He's also had problems going deep into games this season - two of his last four starts he's been pulled before he got out of the fourth. But those games were at home, on the road he's 4-1. Fortunately his one previous start at Camden Yards did not go well - he went 4.1 innings and gave up four earned runs (did get eight strikeouts though). No one on the Orioles has much of a record against him, so it's anyone's guess how this will turn out.

Other Notes:

- The Orioles hit a lot more home runs than the Indians (85 vs. 58), but the Indians also play in park less suited to giving up home runs. Compare OPS+, which neutralizes stats based on the ballpark played, and things look more even - Orioles 104, Indians 100.

- One thing the Indians are clearly good at - getting walks. They lead the AL with 263 compared to 178 for the O's. Orioles pitchers will have to be very careful with their pitches - you give free passes to guys and then let Jason Kipnis come up, who according to Baseball Reference leads the AL in WAR with 4.8, lookout.

- OK, so the Indians can hit. The problem must be pitching, right? Nope - they also lead the AL in FIP with a team ranking of 3.61. What's the problem then? Luck. According to thepowerrank.com, they've been unlucky to the tune of 31 runs this season, 2nd worst in MLB. This doesn't mean they're suddenly going to break out this weekend, but it does tell me this is a much better team than their record would indicate.

- This might be a little early, but - can we start the Manny for MVP campaign? It's not crazy. He's currently fifth in AL WAR according to Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. He's got the fourth most home runs of that top five (only four less than Trout, the leader with 18), and the second worst BAPIP meaning it's not crazy to think he could start doing better or the other guys could regress a little. He's also the best defender of the bunch. But the biggest difference? I'd argue the Orioles have the best chance to make the playoffs of the teams with the four other guys in that group, which probably shouldn't make a difference, but it does.

Prediction:

I don't really like this matchup. As I said before, I think the Indians are better than their record indicates and they have played much better on the road this season than at home. And even though the Orioles haven't lost a series since before the last time they played the Tribe, they will again at some point this season and this just kind of seems like it might be the one. But - I can't pick against a team that's rolling like these guys are right now. I'm going to call it at 2 of 3 again, but do me a favor and don't put any money on it.