The last time the Orioles faced off against the Reds in Cincinnati, Brian Roberts was hitting at the top of the lineup on his way to posting a 6.8 fWAR season, Sammy Sosa lead the offensive charge on the day, going 3-4 with two HRs, but Sidney Ponson would ultimately take the loss, surrendering 7 ER over 6.0 IP.
Two of the runs Sir Sidney gave up were a two-run HR hit by Ken Griffey, Jr. Suffice it to say that things have changed a little bit since then.
The 2017 iteration of the Baltimore Orioles are currently leading the world with an 8-3 record. The Reds started the season 7-2, only just trending downward to their current 8-5 record this past weekend against the Brewers.
The Reds’ record is perhaps a little more surprising so far as early season success is concerned, being that the Reds are not a good baseball team. They finished the 2016 season 68-94, and most recently appeared in the playoffs in 2013. So how are they winning so far in 2017?
On the offensive side of the ball, Eugenio Suarez (.364/.440/.705), Zack Cozart (.432/.488/.730), and Scooter Gennett (.308/.333/.731) are currently lighting the world on fire.
In addition, The Reds’ 2.65 bullpen ERA is presently good for sixth-best in Major League Baseball. Starters Amir Garrett, Brandon Finnegan, and Scott Feldman are all off to good starts, too. The O’s will see Garrett and Feldman in the series.
This three game layover in Cincinnati will serve as the Orioles’ last landing spot before returning home to host the Red Sox for three and then the Rays for three, followed by their fifth-and-final day off this month.
Game 1: Tuesday, April 18 at 7:10 pm
Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 10.38 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (0-2, 9.90 ERA)
fangraphs.com Orioles win probability: 59.5%
This has the potential to be a completely ridiculous game. There is a legitimate argument to be made that neither of these guys should be starting a Major League Baseball game. I hope it’s okay to say this without fear that Adam Jones will tweet angry things at me.
Ubaldo has been bad Ubaldo so far this season. There’s nothing to say to redeem him besides maybe that good Ubaldo randomly fades in and out of existence. Nobody knows when he might show up, but I wouldn’t keep your fingers crossed. For now, he’s the guy that was staked 9 runs in Boston in his last start and couldn’t even manage a win.
Bronson Arroyo is 40 years old, trying to stage a comeback after not pitching in the majors since 2014 due to several injuries and just generally not being a good pitcher. J.J. Hardy is 9-30 (.300) with 5HR(!) against Arroyo lifetime, Seth “Dad” Smith is 5-19 (.263) with a HR, Welington Castillo is 2-6, Adam Jones is 1-2, and Mark Trumbo is 0-3.
Joey Votto is off to a slow start in 2017, but is a career 5-15 (.333) hitter against Ubaldo. Zack Cozart is 2-2 in two tries against the U-man, and Arismendy Alcantara is 1-2. Nobody else currently on the Reds has faced Ubaldo yet, and that’s probably a good thing.
Game 2: Wednesday, April 19 at 7:10 pm
Kevin Gausman (1-0, 3.94 ERA) vs. Amir Garrett (2-0, 1.42 ERA)
fangraphs.com Orioles win probability: 57.1%
This one has a legitimate chance of being a pitchers’ duel... although I suppose almost any game has a chance to be a pitchers’ duel when you compare it to Game 1’s starters in this series. Gausman has been good, but rookie Amir Garrett has been virtually unsolvable in his first two career starts.
It’s not unusual for a young starter to come up and do well before the league catches up. Garrett, however, is a left handed thrower with a fastball that sits in the low 90s. Will the Orioles be the first team to solve him, or will he become the latest soft-tossing lefty to carve-up their lineup?
Arismendy Alcantara (0-3) is the only hitter on either side to have ever seen either starter on the opposing side.
Game 3: Thursday, April 20 at 7:10 pm
TBD vs. Scott Feldman (1-1, 2.87 ERA)
fangraphs.com Orioles win probability: 54.1%
Only a few days ago, this game read as “Wade Miley v. Scott Feldman.” Maybe Miley was never officially announced, maybe Alec Asher is being considered for the start in favor of Miley, or maybe something ~mysterious~ is going on like Miley being injured or “injured.” For now it seems like Asher or Miley are the only two likely to start here.
You may remember Scott Feldman from the Orioles’ failed 2013 playoff run. Feldman came over from the Cubs for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, and pitched pretty much the definition of “mediocre.”
Feldy is having a decent start to the 2017 season on the senior circuit. On the whole, the current crop of Orioles have hit a mixed bag against old friend, Scott Feldman. Manny Machado owns him to a tune of 5-11 (.455) with 2 HRs. J.J. Hardy is 3-10 (.300), Dad is 4-14 (.286), Chris Davis is 2-8 (.250), Jonathan Schoop is 3-6, Welington Castillo is 2-6, but Adam Jones is 2-23 (.094), and Mark Trumbo is 0-6.
Asher was sure impressive in his Orioles debut against the Blue Jays on Saturday (6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO). Miley’s stat line on the young season (1-0, 2.45 ERA, 11.0 IP, 13 SO, 1.18 WHIP) looks impressive... but he isn’t that good, he never has been that good, and he never will be that good. He gave up seven walks in his first start. I still haven’t gotten over that.
Which pitcher would you rather see go for the O’s in the finale?
Remember, the Orioles will be playing a weird set of rules in Cincinnati where they have to bat their pitcher instead of a DH. Career batting lines for fun:
Ubaldo Jimenez: .115/.165/.115 (336 PA)
Kevin Gausman: .000/.143/.000 (7 PA)
Wade Miley: .141/.181/.188 (243 PA)
Alec Asher: .176/.176/.235 (17 PA)
Maybe Trey Mancini can lend them his bat.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series?
This poll is closed