The Rangers are a part of the Wild Card race in the American League. That statement is pretty objectively true. They sit at 45-46, good for 3.0 GB of being granted a one game play-in to get to the playoffs. Neat.
The Orioles are a part of the Wild Card race in the American League. That statement is getting more subjectively false with each passing day. The losses are mounting at an alarming rate, and have been for a while now. The Orioles are now 6.0 GB from that same play-in game. Ugh.
The Rangers have been pretty bad offensively this season, wracking up a collective 93wRC+ so far in 2017, good for 11th in the AL. wRC+ is a statistic that attempts to roll all of a player’s run production into one number, compare it to everybody else’s, and present that number as a +/- percentage from average. Average is 100.
So basically, the Rangers are hitting 7% worse as a team than the average player in the AL. That sounds really bad, and at least the Orioles are hitting better than that, right? Wrong. The Orioles have a team wRC+ of 92—just barely trailing the Rangers, and good for 12th place in the league.
Where this iteration of the Rangers comes out far ahead of (instead of just slightly ahead of) this iteration of the Orioles is on the other side of the ball. If you’ve paid attention at all to this team, you know that the Orioles cannot pitch.
Did you know they are dead last in the league with a team ERA of 5.16? You probably had at least an idea. The Rangers aren’t lighting the world on fire when it comes to run prevention, but they’re still middle-of-the-pack at a 4.31 ERA (good for 8th in the AL).
If you’re looking for a silver lining, the two starting pitchers that will not be featured in this four game series for their respective teams are Ubaldo Jimenez and Yu Darvish. That’s a small equalizer, as Ubaldo is bad at baseball, and Darvish is quite good.
Game 1: Monday, July 17 @ 7:05pm EST
Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.90 ERA) vs Andrew Cashner (4-7, 3.54 ERA)
Andrew Cashner has had a mildly uneven year, but he’s been good on the whole. Through may, his ERA was sitting pretty at 2.92. Across four starts in June, he posted a 6.14 ERA, however.
So far, he’s bounced back in one July start, holding Boston to no earned runs over seven complete innings on July 5. That’ll most often earn you a pitcher win—and it did in this case.
The big righty isn’t striking anyone out in 2017 (4.43 K/9), and is walking a fair amount of batters (3.98 BB/9). Those numbers contribute to his much worse peripheral stats (4.52 FIP, 5.34xFIP), and suggest that he may be propped-up on a little bit of luck so far this season.
Let’s hope that some of that luck abandons him today. Let’s also hope that Chris Tillman shows up and resembles a Major League starting pitcher. Chris hasn’t pitched into the seventh inning all year. He’s averaged roughly 4.1 IP per start, and has given up 43 ER in 49.0 IP total on his way to a 2.14 WHIP this season.
Stop the madness!
Game 2: Tuesday, July 18 @ 7:05pm EST
Dylan Bundy (8-8, 4.33 ERA) vs Tyson Ross (2-1, 5.33 ERA)
Tyson Ross is capable of great things when he is healthy. His 2015 season saw him post a 4.4fWAR over 196.0 IP for the San Diego Fathers. Injury caused him to only make one (bad) start in 2016, and he didn’t log his first game until June 16 this season.
This game will make for his sixth start of 2017, and so far he’s pitched well every-other start. His last one came on July 8, where he went 5.2IP against the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim, allowing 1 ER on his way to victory. Hopefully he continues to only be good every other start.
Ladies and gentlemen: Dylan Bundy’s ERA by month this season:
April: 1.65 (5 starts)
May: 3.92 (6 starts)
June: 5.93 (5 starts)
July: 11.00 (2 starts so far)
This kid has got some serious chops, but overuse is an obvious issue. If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, I’m guessing you don’t get out much. Even with his worsening results, he has still been the best Orioles starter by far. Things are dire here, in Birdland.
Dylan has 11 days between him and his last start, but most guys are pretty rested right now, with the All Star Break just barely in the rear-view mirror.
Game 3: Wednesday, July 19 @ 7:05pm EST
Kevin Gausman (5-7, 6.39 ERA) vs Martin Perez (5-6, 4.55 ERA)
Martin Perez is a young lefty whose stats would look great in the O’s rotation. They look kind of ugly elsewhere, though.
Perez is coming off of a July 14 start in which he held Kansas City to 3 ER over 7.0 IP on his way to a pitcher win. His June ERA of 6.30 is the only thing that really stands out as anomalous so far this season.
Perez has got both a sinker and a four seam fastball that can touch 96-97 MPH at times to go along with three distinct off-speed offerings. He’s just generally sort of hittable, reflected in his .314 OPP AVG this season.
Kevin Gausman is a name that it hasn’t really been fun to start a sentence with for much of this year. Roch Kubatko (writer for MASN) is actually reporting recently that the O’s are deciding whether or not to demote Kevin to AAA.
For a player that most thought was primed for a huge breakout in 2017, that would certainly be unexpected—not that he has earned a spot in this non-rotation. In an even 100.0 IP, Kevin has walked 44 batters, and allowed 71 ER.
His most recent gem was July 14, when he allowed 8 ER over 3.0 IP to the Cubs.
Game 4: Thursday, July 20 @ 7:05pm EST
Wade Miley (4-8, 5.40 ERA) vs Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.05 ERA)
The Rangers lost Cole Hamels for all of May and most of June to an oblique strain, but don’t worry, because he’s already logged three starts in July, with a cumulative 0.82 ERA in the month.
Cleveland lit him up for 7 ER over 4.1 IP in his only June start, but if he were an Orioles starter, we would just call that “Saturday.” Other than that one aberration, Cole hasn’t allowed more than 3 ER all season, and over his last two starts, he’s allowed 0 ER across 15.1 IP. Dude’s good.
Wade Miley has his work cut out for him in this contest because, well, he’s bad. The numbers have just started to show it, but all luck has fled him.
Wade is coming off of a start in which he allowed 7 ER over 4.2 IP to the Cubs (see, I told you we just call that “Saturday” in Birdland). After actually getting good results in April and May, the wheels have fallen off since.
Miley posted a 7.48 ERA in six June starts, and has posted an 11.25 ERA so far in three July starts.
A More interesting poll at this point might look something like “Will the Orioles get swept, or will they manage to salvage a game?” The results might be more even. As it stands, let’s go with a standard one.
How many games will the Orioles win against the Rangers in this series?
This poll is closed
Zero (swept at home in back-to-back series)
One (just avoided getting swept)
Two (somehow split)
Three (almost swept another team?)