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Orioles-Rays series preview: The last home stand of the half

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The Tampa Bay Rays will make an appearance at Camden Yards just days after the O’s left St. Pete.

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Major League Baseball schedule is probably incredibly difficult to write. You’ve got 30 teams playing 162 games, and each has to play every division rival 19 times as well as an even 81 home-81 away game split.

For that reason, you’re bound to have some peculiarities from time-to-time. This series happens to be one, as the Orioles just left Saint Petersburg Sunday to head to Toronto. Four days later, the Rays will be leaving Pittsburg to pay a return visit.

It’s no secret that the O’s have not played well on the road this year, but in the recent series against the Rays the Birds managed to scratch-out a 2-1 victory, good for their first road series win since April.

It’s also no secret that the O’s have played well at home (24-14). Not a lot has changed since Saturday: the bottom of the AL East is still bunched-up, the top of the AL East isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, and the Wild Card spots are somehow well within reach.

That having been said, let’s take a look at the pitching match-ups and Fangraphs win probabilities for this weekend series.

Friday, June 30 @ 7:05pm EST - Jacob Faria (3-0, 2.10 ERA) v. Chris Tillman (1-5, 8.39 ERA)

fangraphs.com win probability: Orioles 55%, Rays 45%

Last time out, Jacob Faira threw six innings against these same Orioles en route to allowing three runs on five hits and a ND. It was the only start of his young Major League career where he allowed more than one run, and the only one he has not won.

The rookie righty doesn’t exactly have to be good to match against Chris Tillman, though. Not that he hasn’t been... but Chris is currently Brian Matusz’ing. If you’re not familiar with the concept, this is when your already-bad ERA just gets higher every start. If we’re being technical, it stayed exactly the same at 8.39 from his last one to this one. Still not good.

This is a difficult feat to accomplish, because eventually you’ll be pulled from the rotation, right? Well, maybe not in Tillman’s case. He’s not apparently injured anymore, and he has a pretty long, pretty good track-record. That’s the type of guy that has a long leash.

Don’t get me wrong, though. For as long as Chris Tillman’s leash may be, he will eventually lose his job if things get too ridiculous. Because he’s a veteran at this point in his career, it will probably be a “mystery injury” rather than a demotion to the bullpen or minors.

Tillman’s last start was... well, against Tampa Bay. You may start to notice a bit of a trend here as far as that.

Because I’ve written this, watch for Tillman to pull a Ubaldo and randomly go 8 scoreless innings. You’re welcome.

Saturday, July 1 @ 4:05pm EST - Jake Odorizzi (4-3, 4.00 ERA) v. Dylan Bundy (8-6, 3.73 ERA)

fangraphs.com win probability: Orioles 58.1%, Rays 41.9%

Jake Odorizzi is the Rays’ solid-if-not-unspectacular veteran—which is saying something because his 4.00 ERA would slot right at number two (maybe even number one the way Bundy has been wearing kid gloves lately) in the O’s rotation.

Odorizzi is coming off of a ND against the Orioles in which he went 5.1IP and allowed 4ER. The Orioles have lit this guy up in recent history, and last time around he was matched against Tillman. You all saw how that went.

This time, he’ll be matched against the lone bright spot in the O’s rotation. 24-year-old Dylan Bundy (wow...still? I guess he was drafted out of High School...) has not had a good June. He’s been spells better than most of the rotation, especially over that stretch, but he’s tallied a 5.93 ERA.

Because of this, the Orioles have been finding ways to rest him more as the season has worn on. He earned the victory last time out (against the Rays), going 7.0IP and allowing 3ER. I suppose not all of his June has been bad, but you can’t really argue with an ERA pushing six.

I would look for this one to be a real test of just how fatigued (or not) Bundy looks. Keep in mind that last season, he threw 109.2IP, and it was generally agreed-upon that he wore out towards the end. Coming into this game, he’ll have already tallied 99.0IP in 2017.

Sunday, July 2 @ 1:35pm EST - Alex Cobb (6-5, 3.73 ERA) v. Kevin Gausman (4-7, 6.07 ERA)

fangraphs.com win probability: Orioles 58.6%, Rays 41.4%

Cobb and Gausman are the two that did not pitch their last go-round against the Orioles and Rays, respectively. Cobb got to throw his last start in the senior circuit, where he held Pittsburgh to 0R over 8.0IP.

I’m not saying that Cobb isn’t the sort of guy who is capable of this on any given night, but that was “only” the second time this season that he’s shut out an opposing team or gone a full eight innings.

The bottom line is that Cobb is good. His ERA matches Dylan Bundy’s, for reference.

Kevin Gausman... I don’t know, man. He didn’t allow Toronto to score in his last start, but he only threw 5.1IP. Other than that, he’s averaging nearly 5ER per start in June. He hasn’t had any surprise gems, either. It’s been rough.

It’s not hard to see why he’s been throwing so few innings on his way to allowing lots of runs. He has 41BB in 86.0IP this year. That’s, like, really bad. That will get you to a cumulative 1.84 WHIP. That will leave you with the second highest ERA among qualified pitchers.

For the love of all that is Orange and Black, turn your season around, Kevin.

Outlook

The stat guys like the Orioles to win each of these contests. Do you? If they can go into enemy territory against the Rays and nab 2 of 3 games, why can’t they steal a sweep at home?

The last time the Orioles swept a (more than two-game) series was May 5-7 at home against the ChiSox. Do you think they’re due, or might they never sweep a series again given the fact that their rotation is essentially Dylan Bundy and four dumpster fires?

Tell us what you think below!

Poll

How many games will the O’s win in this series?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    0 - swept!
    (3 votes)
  • 10%
    1 - series loss
    (19 votes)
  • 63%
    2 - series win
    (111 votes)
  • 24%
    3 - sweep!
    (43 votes)
176 votes total Vote Now