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Orioles vs. Twins: Series Preview

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The Orioles homestand continues with a four game series against the Twins. Can they keep up their recent momentum and gain ground on the Yankees?

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far:

The Orioles were finally able to end that long losing streak to the Mets on Wednesday night with a walkoff home run by Henry Urrutia. In doing so they kept pace with the Yankees to stay five games back in the division, and the Angels, to remain 1/2 game back for the second Wild Card. At this point it certainly looks like the Blue Jays, Angels, and Orioles will be fighting for those two Wild Card spots, though any of them could also catch the division leading Astros and Yankees. Essentially it's five teams vying for four spots. How it shakes out probably doesn't matter much. Last year the Royals won the wild card game and went on to Game 7 of the World Series. In 2012, the Orioles won the Wild Card game on the road and took the ALDS to a Game 5 against the Yankees. Don't get too caught up in standings...getting in is the most important.

After a strong start to the season, it looks like the Twins will be on the outside looking in. While a division title is all but out of reach at this point, a Wild Card berth is still possible, if unlikely. It's not like we didn't see this coming though. That said, they remain a team with a lot of talented players that haven't exactly rolled over for the Orioles recently. Since the start of 2013, the Orioles are 7-9 against them. What can we expect this weekend?

Pitching Matchups:

Thursday: Miguel Gonzalez vs. Tyler Duffey

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Gonzalez

9-8

126.1

91

4.98

1.322

2.37

Duffy

1-1

8.0

63

6.98

1.625

1.14

Friday: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Tommy Milone

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Chen

7-6

143.1

126

4.39

1.172

3.69

Milone

6-3

86.1

112

4.76

1.274

2.31

Saturday: Chris Tillman vs. Kyle Gibson

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Tillman

9-7

123.0

89

4.38

1.341

1.89

Gibson

8-9

146.2

102

4.20

1.309

2.19

Sunday: Kevin Gausman vs. Mike Pelfrey

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Gausman

2-5

66.1

90

3.98

1.206

3.41

Pelfrey

6-7

134.1

113

3.90

1.392

1.69

Other Notes:

- The first thing I'm noticing about those matchups is there are no dominant starters coming out. Sure, Chen is having a good season and Tillman has been better in the second half, but you can hardly count on either one to deliver a win every time out.

- I mentioned the Twins hot start - on June 8th they were tied for the division lead. At the time, they were 33-24. Since then, they've gone 26-37. And despite being two games under .500 right now, they still are outperforming their pythagorean expectation. Combine that with a team that is 21-37 on the road and you've got a team the Orioles should very much be looking forward to playing this weekend (yes, that worries me)

- For their part, the Orioles are very much under-performing their pythagorean expectation with a run differential of +70. Like the Twins though, they've been a completely different team at home, going 37-21 at the Yard this season. Fortunately, that's where this series will be played.

- What are each team's strengths and weaknesses? According to Baseball Reference, the Twins have four positions that rank in the top seven for Wins Above Average: SP, 2B, 3B, and LF. The Orioles have five positions that meet that criteria: RP, C, 1B, 3B, and CF. But these stats are cumulative through the year, and I'd add that while 2B for the Orioles has been shaky most of the year, having Jonathan Schoop back and healthy is a strong upgrade and adding Gerardo Parra for one of the corner OF spots helps as well. And while overall as a team the Orioles rank fifth in that list in the AL, the Twins rank dead last. To look more into those rankings, go here.

Prediction:

Maybe the Orioles have put it together and can make a run at it. Maybe this will end up more like 2013. I don't know the answer, but I do know the Orioles are better than the Twins and can and should find a way to take three of four from them this weekend, if not another four game sweep.