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Orioles vs. White Sox series preview: April 28 - May 1

Two teams on opposite trajectories meet at Camden Yards for a four-game set

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It was a tough road trip for the Orioles. With stops in Kansas City and Tampa Bay (St. Petersburg), the Birds went 2-4. The offense, especially, stumbled against the Rays, scoring just four runs across a three-game set. So, a return to Camden Yards, where the team boasts a 7-1 record, will be a welcome sight.

Unfortunately they will be playing the hottest team in baseball. The AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox have won six games in a row and have a 10-3 record on the road so far in 2016. But it has all come from pitching. As a whole, their staff has the lowest ERA in baseball. Meanwhile, their offense is toiling in the bottom-third of the league in both batting average and runs scored.

Game 1 Probables

RHP Tyler Wilson (1-0, 2.77 ERA) vs. LHP John Danks (0-3, 6.23 ERA)
Thursday, 7:05 p.m., MASN 2

Danks has not been all that good of a pitcher since 2011 and he has continued to struggle thus far in 2016. His current ground ball rate of 30.8 percent is the lowest of his career, which may allow the power-hitting O's to get back to their home run tendencies.

On top of that, he is walking almost five batters per nine innings pitched. However, the southpaw has fared well against the O's in the past. He currently holds a career ERA of 3.90 facing Baltimore and in his lone start against them last year threw seven scoreless innings.

Nolan Reimold is 8-for-19 against Danks with a double, triple, home run and three RBI. J.J. Hardy is 9-for-25 with four doubles, a home run and 4 RBI. Conversely, Matt Wieters is just 6-for-27, Chris Davis is 3-for-17 and Manny Machado is 2-for-9 against Danks.

The humongous issue here is Adam Jones. The centerfielder has gone 1-for-33 with one walk and eight strikeouts against this White Sox pitcher. Listen, Buck. I know you like to stick with your guys. But Jonesy doesn't do well here. Hold him out for just a day.

Not much to say about Wilson. He is a youngster who has not faced the ChiSox much. He started one game against them last year and did well, going six innings and allowing two runs on five hits, one walk and a strikeout. A repeat performance would be great.

Game 2 Probables

RHP Mike Wright (1-2, 6.23 ERA) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (1-2, 4.05 ERA)
Friday, 7:05 p.m., MASN

The 23-year-old Rodon looks to have made himself a fixture in the White Sox rotation for a while to come. He features a four-pitch selection: four-seam, two-seam, slider and change-up, but favors to work predominately with the two-seam and the slider. In two games against the O's in 2015, he had a 4.50 ERA over six innings with four walks and eight strike outs while holding the Birds to a .182 batting average.

Wright has had three inconsistent starts. At times, his mid- to high-90s heater looks great. Other times he cannot locate it, leading to hard hit doubles and home runs or walks. This could be a make or break type outing for him. Vance Worley, while not a great alternative, is an available option to swap spots with Wright should he continue to struggle.

Since both of these guys have limited MLB experience, neither offense has seen too much of them. Of the Orioles that have faced Rodon, they are a combined 2-for-17 with a home run from Jonathan Schoop. Only four current White Sox have hit against Wright, combined to be 4-for-10 with a home run from Adam Eaton.

Game 3 Probables

RHP Kevin Gausman (0-1, 1.80 ERA) vs. RHP Mat Latos (4-0, 0.74 ERA)
Saturday, 7:05 p.m., MASN 2, WJZ

Oh my, Latos! A pitcher that the Orioles probably should have gambled on in retrospect, the right-hander has been fantastic in the season's first month, but it has been a little lucky. His batting average against on balls in play is just .167 yand he is striking out a career-low 4.81 per nine innings.

On top of that, only 3.2 percent of his fly balls have turned into home runs. His xFIP of 4.97 paints a slightly grimmer picture, so the Birds may be able to give him his first L of the campaign.

Pedro Alvarez is the only Oriole with any notable experience against Latos. Over 29 at-bats, the slugger has hit .276 with two home runs, six RBI, five walks and eight strikeouts.

Gausman was a heck of a lot of fun to watch in his first outing of the season against Tampa. He was featuring a fastball in the high-90s all night and looks to have added an effective slurve to his arsenal. Ditching the Rec Specs was kind of a bummer, but if he is a better pitcher without them, then I am all for it.

These White Sox have a little experience with Gaus Boss, going 6-for-24 as a team. For his career, Gausman has thrown just two innings against Chicago. In that short time he has allowed one hit and no runs while striking out three.

Game 4 Probables

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 3.91 ERA) vs. LHP Chris Sale (5-0, 1.66 ERA)
Sunday, 1:35 p.m., MASN, WJZ

Facing Sale is never fun, but the Orioles happen to be one of the better-performing offenses in the league against the perennial Cy Young Award nominee. Over 10 games, Sale has tossed 29.0 innings and holds a career ERA of 3.72 against the orange and black birds.

However, many of the early outings, including his MLB debut, were relief appearances. His most recent start versus the O's was last June when he threw 7.2 shutout innings and struck out 12 batters.

Some of the current crop of hitters that have stood out against Sale are Trumbo (5-for-11, 1 HR, 3 RBI), Jones (4-for-11, 1 HR, 2 RBI), Caleb Joseph (2-for-7, 1 2B) and J.J. Hardy (3-for-11, 1 HR, 1 RBI).

For Jimenez, the White Sox have been a tough nut to crack. The current group of hitters for them are a lifetime .305 (32-for-105) against Jimenez. Over his career, the right-hander is 3-4 with a 4.17 ERA over 12 starts. He has thrown 73.1 innings in those games, walking 33 and striking out 61 in that time.