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Orioles vs. Yankees: Series Preview

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The Orioles road trip continues as they get back to division play against the Yankees.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far:

So on one hand, the Orioles success in Detroit has put them one game over .500 and into second place in the division. On the other hand, they're still four games back of the Yankees. Even a sweep this week would still leave them a game behind. Winning two of three would leave them three games back. Still, gaining some ground is better than losing it, and with the Blue Jays and Rays sitting only 0.5 a game behind the Orioles, they can't afford any more losses.

The Yankees have won six of their last ten games and may have spent more time atop the division standings than anyone else this season. They started off the second half by winning two of three from the Mariners. You could argue they've been a little lucky this season, outperforming their pythagorean expectation by two games, but that's not a huge difference. Despite some issues with the starting pitching they've been playing well, getting some unexpected offensive performances from their aging sluggers. You'd like to think that won't continue, but who knows.

The last time these two teams faced, the Orioles won two of three in Baltimore. But the last time the Birds were in the Bronx, they lost three of four. What will this month bring?

Pitching Matchups:

Tuesday: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Nathan Eovaldi

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Chen

4-5

110.0

139

4.19

1.091

3.60

Eovaldi

9-2

98.0

87

3.53

1.520

2.73

If Chen's July continues like it has so far, O's fans shouldn't have much to worry about on Tuesday night. His ERA at the end of June was 2.90 and it's actually gone down in three starts this month. Maybe the best part about Chen is his ability to pitch deep into games. He consistently pitches seven or eight innings, which is nice in a rotation that doesn't feature many other players that can do that on a regular basis. In two games against the Yankees this season, he's pitched 13 innings and given up three earned runs. One of those starts was at Yankee Stadium, and that game was particularly good - giving up one earned run while striking out seven and walking one. His ERA over 34+ innings at Yankee Stadium isn't great, but he's only given up three home runs. Against a lefty-team that relies on power, that's a good sign.

Nathan Eovaldi somehow has nine wins - he should not have nine wins. He's pitched against the O's twice this season. Once in April where gave up two runs in eight hits in five innings, and once in May where he gave up three runs and six hits in 5.2 innings. Those are good records that should give the O's lineup confidence. What's more is that his platoon this season is terrible. Righties hit for an OPS of .668, but lefties hit .875. In a ballpark that favors lefties, expect to see Travis Snider in left and Chris Parmelee at first.

Wednesday: Kevin Gausman vs. Ivan Nova

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Gausman

1-1

27.0

78

3.87

1.296

2.78

Nova

1-3

23.2

115

4.58

1.352

1.71

So who has to leave to make room for Gausman? Reports are that Buck doesn't want to lose another pitcher, but they've also discarded a fair share of position players too. Could Ryan Flaherty be optioned to avoid another DFA? Has Parmelee run his course? When will they have a home edition of Dan Duquette Roster Roulette? Even though Gausman's last start in the bigs wasn't great, that minor league start over the break wasn't bad. His record against the Yankees is pretty good - in 27.2 innings, he's got a 2.28 ERA and a 5.20 SO/W. Brett Gardener has a .300 BA against him in 10 PAs, which is the most on the Yankees lineup.

Nova is making his return from Tommy John surgery last season. He's pitched in four games this season and they've all been increasingly bad. His one win was against the Phillies. Orioles batters have seen plenty of him. Davis is hitting .333 with 3 HRs in 24 ABs. That's topped though by Matt Wieters, who's hitting .355 with 4 HRs in 31 ABs. Snider, Adam Jones, and J.J. Hardy all have homers against him as well.

Thursday: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Masahiro Tanaka

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Jimenez

7-5

104.0

117

3.49

1.279

3.22

Tanaka

6-3

74.0

107

3.77

1.027

4.93

Jimenez followed up three great starts with a bad one last week in Detroit. That's going to happen - but he's having such a good year, I think this is good news because its more likely than not that this next start will be a good one. His lone start against the Yankees this season was OK - of course, the Orioles also scored 11 runs that game, so how good did he need to be? The Yankees lineup has had mixed success against Jimenez. Carlos Beltran has probably played the best - .500 BA and 2 HRs in 12 ABs.

The Orioles haven't seen Tanaka yet this season, which has been slightly short for him since he didn't come back until after the season started from an elbow injury. They did see him last year though, and both games resulted in a loss for the Yankees. The thing I remember most about those games was Jonathan Schoop and how he hit a home run against Tanaka in both games. In fact, only three other players have hit more than one home run (all tied at 2) against Tanaka - Kyle Seager, Mike Napoli, and J.D Martinez. That's good company. Think he'll be in the lineup? Think you'll hear others talk about Schoop's two homers against Tanaka?

Other Notes:

- It's probably hard to stress how important this series is to the Orioles. Winning two of three against the Tigers was a good way to start off the 2nd half, but they need to build on that. These teams don't play again until September, and who knows what these two teams will look like by then.

- I mentioned above how this is a lefty-hitting lineup. Alex Rodriguez is the only regular player in their lineup that isn't a lefty or switch hitter. Of course, Didi Gregorius is the only regular player under the age of 30 and he's also their worst hitter. How is this team winning again?

- Unlike the last time these two teams played, Andrew Miller is not on the DL - so expect to hear a lot about how well he played for the Orioles last season, how they didn't re-sign him, etc. Him and Dellin Betances make an incredible bullpen duo, but the O's 'pen still outranks them in ERA (2.84 vs. 3.36).

- Next time someone tells you how weak the AL East is this season, you may want to remind them three of the top five teams in OPS+ are in that division. The Yankees rank slightly ahead of the Orioles offensively, but that doesn't mean the Orioles position is a bad one. (The Blue Jays are the third team)

- Since 2012, the Orioles are 36-30 against the Yankees, including 16-16 on the road.

- Monkey off their back, chip off their shoulder, weight lifted - call it what you will, but in Sunday's game against the Tigers the Orioles were 6 for 10 with runners in scoring position. That was their best performance in that stat in - well, in a while. We can stop taking about it now, right?

Prediction:

Call me a homer if you want, but I like the matchup the Orioles have in every one of these games. The Orioles have had success against all these pitchers for the Yankees, and the Orioles are putting up their best three guys. The bullpen is rested after that day off and I think they're due some wins in New York. I'm going bold - look for the sweep.