Remember when the 2017 season felt like a lost cause? Remember when there was no hope, and even if you squinted, there was no path to the postseason for this iteration of the Orioles?
Thing can change rather quickly in baseball. The Orioles are heading out to the West Coast for their yearly tour of teams out that way. 13-10 after the All-Star Break isn’t anything to write home about, but coming off of a 5-2 home stand sure feels good—especially when suddenly the starting pitching is firing on all cylinders not called “Tillman.”
Speaking of Chris, it looks like we found out the answer to the season-old question of “just how far is his leash?” With the acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Tillman has officially (for the first time in his career) become a member of the bullpen. My money says he doesn’t see any high-leverage innings.
Back to the somewhat-revived hopes of the Orioles making the playoffs: as of this morning, The O’s are 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot, with three teams ahead of them for a shot at a one game play-in versus the Yankees in the Bronx.
The Birds are looking up at Seattle by 1.0 game, and down at Los Angeles by 0.5 games. As it were, four out of the Orioles next seven series will be played against Los Angeles and Seattle (one home and one road against each). That sure sounds like a whole heap of “make your own luck” to me.
Here are your pitching match-ups for the series in Los Angeles beginning tonight:
Monday, August 7 @ 10:07pm EST
Dylan Bundy (10-8, 4.24 ERA) v. JC Ramirez (10-9, 4.03)
On his last trip to the mound, Dylan Bundy was the Dylan Bundiest Dylan Bundy. He threw eight complete innings without allowing an earned run. He allowed four base runners the entire eight innings.
This same Bundy was also working on eight days of rest. The Bundy that will be taking the mound tonight in Los Angeles will be working on six days of rest. Hopefully he’ll be three-fourths as good as he was on August 1—he’s still the guy that gave up 19 earned runs in 20.1 IP in July.
Countering Bundy will be JC Ramirez. Ramriez is flirting with a ERA below four (! Orioles starters take note !), and has put in a solid 129.2 IP this season with a respectable 1.32 WHIP.
The righty is also coming off of an 8.0 inning outing in which he surrendered no earned runs. Sure it was against Philadelphia, but Ramirez has been more-or-less dependable all season long.
JC Ramirez is no Cy Young contender, but he hasn’t gone less than 5.0 IP in a start since June 18, and hasn’t given up more than 5 ER in a start since June 2 (and that was his only such start all season long).
If Dylan is on tonight, this could be a pretty serious pitchers’ duel.
Tuesday, August 8 @ 10:07pm EST
Jeremy Hellickson (7-5, 4.45 ERA [combined]) v. Parker Bridwell (5-1, 3.20 ERA)
Okay, somebody’s going to scream this in the comments section, so I may as well address the elephant in the series preview first. Park Bridwell is a former Orioles prospect finding success so far in the Majors.
I think Jake Arrieta scarred us all, but Tuesday will only be Bridwell’s 11th start for the Angels. Plenty of pitchers have pitched to good results over 10 starts without panning out long-term, or becoming some sort of superstar.
Maybe the Orioles made a mistake giving him away for essentially nothing, but I guarantee the O’s braintrust know more than you, and hindsight makes geniuses of us all. Anybody want to go back and draft Buster Posey instead of Brian Matusz? Yeah, me too.
I digress. Newest addition to the rotation, Jeremy Hellickson will be facing off against this ex-Orioles prospect, and he sure impressed in his debut, going seven full innings and contributing to the O’s shut-out of the Royals.
Looking across Hellickson’s results for the season with the Phillies, there are a lot of one and zero ER outings, but also a fair share of 6 and 7 ER outings. He’s been up-and-down as far as results. That’s why his ERA looks like it belongs in the Orioles rotation, but he has the potential to go out and stymie the opposing team on any given night.
Wednesday, August 9 @ 3:37pm EST
Kevin Gausman (8-7, 5.15 ERA) v. Troy Scribner (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
The series finale will see the resurgent Kevin Gausman take the hill for the Orioles. Kevin gave up only one run over seven full innings his last time out, but for him it’s been much more than that recently.
Kevin Gausman has been looking more and more like the Kevin Gausman everybody was praying on for the 2017 season over his last few starts. The results are there, yes, but something has clicked—and it shows visibly. He’s given up only 2 ER over his last 27.2 IP over four starts. Hopefully the young Ace has finally arrived.
Gausman’s opposite in this affair will be Troy Scribner, who appears to be some sort of right handed 26-year-old with 8.0 MLB IP under his belt. Scribner appeared out of the bullpen twice for Los Angeles before making his first MLB start on August 4. He went only 4.0 IP, and allowed 2 ER in that game.
Of Scribner, John Sickles wrote just about a week ago:
“He doesn’t throw very hard, upper-80s/low-90s on his best days, but he locates his curveball, slider, and change-up efficiently and shows little fear of hitters. He’s proven able to make adjustments and has survived the difficult California and Pacific Coast Leagues with his confidence intact. Overall, Scribner projects as a fifth starter or long reliever.”
All of that as fascinating as it is, it won’t matter in the least if the shiny, new Gausman shows up Wednesday afternoon/evening.
The Orioles presently sit at 20-33 on the road. If this thing is really going to happen (you know, that post-season thing), then now is the time to start turning the road record around. A 5-2 home stand means less-than-nothing if it’s followed immediately by a 3-7 road trip.
Poll time: tell me about your answer in the comments section below!
How many games will the O’s will take in this series?
This poll is closed