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Orioles vs. Blue Jays: Series Preview

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The Orioles come home for the final seven games of the season. First up, four games with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far:

We're almost done. One week from now, the season will be over. There will be no more games. After giving themselves an outside chance at the playoffs by sweeping the Nationals, the O's got swept themselves in Boston this weekend. Worse than that, they were shutout for three games. They couldn't score a single run. Being shut out over three games for the first time since 1957 is bad, but doing it when you needed to win every game to make the playoffs in the last year before most of your best players leave in free agency is terrible. Sadly, it's just how things have gone this season.

What happened on July 1st when they were up 0.5 a game in the division? They went 3-10 over their next 13. What happened when they worked their back to 62-57 and were in the thick of the playoff race? They did worse, and went 1-12 over their next 13. This latest stumble in Boston is just the latest in a series of failing when it mattered most.

The Blue Jays haven't quite clinched the division yet, but they're close. They have clinched at least a playoff spot and honestly, good for them. They haven't been to the playoffs in more than 20 years. Sometimes you have to put rivalries aside and appreciate what another team has done. Except for the Yankees - I'd be happy if nothing good ever happened to them again. Ever.

Pitching Matchups:

Monday: Chris Tillman vs. Marco Estrada

Tillman is a lock to be in the rotation again next season, and I think the only question is whether the O's give him a contract extension this year or keep him in arbitration. Personally, I'd give him a contract and get some certainty to the mear-term outlook.

Tuesday: Miguel Gonzalez vs. Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman tore his ACL just before the season started, but is already back and making his third start in this game. He's 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA. Sometimes good things happen to a team. Unless you're the Orioles, and your #1 prospect re-injures himself while recovering from TJ surgery before ever even making it back to the majors.

Wednesday: Kevin Gausman vs. R.A. Dickey

How have we made it through the entire 2015 season so far without Dickey facing the Orioles? Last year he was 0-2 against them with a 2.89 ERA. In his career at Camden Yards he's 1-3 with a 3.67 ERA. Five Orioles have recorded home runs off of him. If that all sounds like it might bode well for the O's in this matchup, it does sound that way. We'll have to see if its more than that.

Thursday: Wei-Yin Chen vs. David Price

Chen isn't officially listed as the starter yet, but it would be his turn in the rotation. I mentioned above how Tillman is a lock to make the rotation next year. Chen will be a free agent and its hard to see him coming back. He's been the O's best pitcher all season and will likely be one of the best pitchers on the market in the offseason. The O's won't be able to afford him. Price is a lefty and will also be a free agent this offseason. He's better than Chen and will get more money, but there's only one of him. This may be Chen's last start as an Oriole.

Other Notes:

- Troy Tulowitzki is recovering from a crack in his shoulder blade, but may be coming back sometime this week. I'm guessing if he makes an appearance during this series it won't be until Thursday.

- The Blue Jays are a very good team, maybe the best in baseball. Using Baseball Reference's Wins Above Average chart, I tried to figure out what might be their weak spot. Seems like it's been Left Field. Before the trade deadline, this position was filled by guys like Chris Colabello, Ezequiel Carrera, and Danny Valencia. At the trade deadline though, they went out and got Ben Revere, who was also a acquisition target of the Orioles. Since then, Revere has accumulated more innings at the position than any other player this season, is a high-average, high-on base hitter, and has a Fielding Percentage of 1.000 with no errors. Sure seems like they made a good move to me.

- Adam Jones made his return on Sunday, while J.J. Hardy sat out for rest. There's a week left in the season and he needs to rest. Sigh. I think this season has made it pretty clear those guys will continue to be role-players for this team, but the foundation going forward needs to be on Machado, Schoop, and Gausman. You can throw Zach Britton in there too. That's a strong core but it's going to take more.

Prediction:

You want a prediction? I'll give you a prediction.