The O’s are currently two games up on Detroit for the final wild card spot, but does it really feel like it? The way they’ve been playing lately, and with five teams within four games, it seems like it’s inevitable that someone else will come and take that spot for themselves.
An upcoming three-game set against the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays could change that. A sweep or even just a series win would be huge for not only the standings, but the general morale of Birdland. Let’s get to it.
Monday, 7:05 PM: Marco Estrada vs. Wade Miley
This looks like a mismatch, but it would have looked like even more of a mismatch a few weeks ago. Estrada (3.47 ERA) has been very good overall this year, but his ability to prevent hits and beat his peripherals has eluded him lately.
He’s given up 22 hits over 14 innings in his last three starts, and in his last two outings he gave up eleven runs over nine innings while striking out just six.
Meanwhile, Miley has been mostly terrible since being traded to the Orioles, but his last start against the Nats (5 IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 1 BB) was arguably his best yet. Hopefully both starters can continue their current trajectory tonight.
Tuesday, 7:05 PM: J.A. Happ vs. Ubaldo Jimenez
Now this is a mismatch. Happ is having a career year (3.19 ERA), and Jimenez (6.62 ERA)....well, he’s not having a career year, let’s put it that way. Just like Monday’s matchup, though, Toronto’s starter is coming off a couple weak outings in a row while Baltimore’s starter is coming off of a rare good one.
Happ has given up four runs in each of his last two starts, although he was able to pitch into the eighth in one of those. That must be nice.
Jimenez made his return to the rotation on Thursday and pitched surprisingly well against Washington, but as you may remember, he was outdueled by some guy named Max Scherzer.
Wednesday, 7:05 PM: Aaron Sanchez vs. Yovani Gallardo
I don’t want to use the word “mismatch” three times in a row here, but...yeah. Sanchez is still among the league leaders in ERA, although he too has not been as sharp lately.
In three August starts he’s allowed ten runs in 19 innings, for an ERA just north of five. It’s almost like a guy might not be as sharp when he pitches every eighth or ninth day. Weird.
Here’s where the story changes. Unlike the first two games where the Orioles will be utilizing a bad starter coming off a good outing, this game features a bad starter coming off a horrendous outing.
Gallardo gave up seven runs and recorded just four outs against the Yankees on Friday. That means that Wade Miley now has the best ERA of the Orioles’ three starters in this series, at 5.51. Read that sentence again.
- Adam Jones is expected to make his return to the starting lineup in this series, perhaps as early as today. Considering he’s hitting .309 in August and Nolan Reimold is hitting .148 in August, this is a good thing.
- There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Joe Biagini, but he’s been dominant out of the bullpen this year for the Blue Jays. He was a rule 5 pick from San Francisco’s system and is sporting a 2.32 ERA and 2.30 FIP in 54 innings. You can read a good profile of him here.
- So far, it’s looking like the Orioles’ inability to close a deal with Melvin Upton hasn’t hurt them. He’s batting .229/.262/.375 so far in his first 29 games with Toronto.
- The Orioles may want to avoid pitching to Josh Donaldson this week. He hit three home runs yesterday against Minnesota and has five dingers in his last four games.
Let’s be real. The Orioles shouldn’t win this series. They’re at a distinct disadvantage in all three pitching matchups, and none of them are even particularly close.
That said, nobody thought in March that the O’s would be 12 games over .500 right now either. That’s why they play the games.