There isn’t much more exciting than September baseball. For the Orioles, it’s another year where the playoffs are right around the corner and there’s a fairly decent chance that Buck Showalter’s team will have the opportunity to punch a ticket to the postseason up until the final week of the year. That is, if they win the ones they’re supposed to.
This series against the 66-77 Blue Jays certainly falls into that category. The excuses have run out; if the O’s are going to make the playoffs, this is the type of set the team needs to dominate. At the end of the day however, it’s still unclear if this squad is prepared to make the leap.
This week, we’re about to find out if the Orioles are in this race until the finish.
Game 1 - Monday, 7:07
Starters: Marco Estrada (7-8, 5.00 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 6.80 ERA)
Estrada is a bit better than those numbers might indicate, something we’ve obviously seen over the years. His 1.42 WHIP is significantly up compared to that number over the past two years with Toronto, getting hit around at a much higher rate.
Against the Orioles, he’s dominated in 273 combined at-bats against the lineup. Current Orioles have hit just .203 against him, Adam Jones with an 8-28 delivering the best results over Estrada’s career. Wellington Castillo, too, deserves a shoutout — he is 9-35 in his looks against the right-hander with four home runs.
Of course, Estrada allowed 10 hits over five frames just under two weeks ago, but his September 5th outing against Boston saw him toss seven scoreless, almost perfect, innings. It’s September baseball, and there’s no predicting what’s going to happen here.
With Ubaldo Jimenez, it’s the same story. Which Ubaldo will show up? He of the 6.80 season ERA, or the “oh, that’s what he used to look like” Ubaldo? Regardless of his tough 2017, this wouldn’t be a bad time for a plus outing.
Game 2 - Tuesday, 7:07
Starters: Joe Biagini (3-10, 5.29 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.12)
If the Orioles need to win one game this September, it’s against Joe Biagini. You might remember the 1-0 loss against the Blue Jays to start this month, and you might’ve chosen to forget about the fact that Biagini tossed seven innings of scoreless ball, striking out 10 batters. Sorry about bringing that one up again.
Biagini is clearly a hittable threat. He’s allowed 105 hits in 100.1 innings pitched this season and doesn’t have the track record of mowing down hitters dominantly on a consistent basis. For the Orioles lineup, he’s a starting arm who they can’t afford to be fooled against yet again.
Here’s about as big of a start for Dylan Bundy as you’ll get. Every inning matters in September. The innings are piling up, but he keeps taking the mound as one of the most essential members on this roster. Against Biagini, it’s time for Bundy to prove his value.
Game 3 - Wednesday, 7:07
Starters: Marcus Stroman (11-7, 3.18 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (10-10, 4.99 ERA)
Here’s a tough one. Marcus Stroman, when he’s on, is almost unhittable. There are many reasons why he’s become one of the best pitchers in this league, and one of them may or may not be his performance against Orioles hitting. The current roster has a total .282 career on-base percentage against Stroman and just a total .375 slugging percentage. The offense just hasn’t been successful, and this 2017 season has been no exception.
Stroman tossed seven scoreless against the Birds back in June and didn’t allow a run earlier this month before exiting that start early. If there’s a guy on the Jays that the Orioles don’t want to see, it’s probably the 26-year-old lefty.
Of course, Kevin Gausman can make all of that insignificant with a nine-inning shutout. Sure, he’s struggled against Toronto hitting over his career (.294 average), but what better time to make up for the disappointment than now?
How many games will the Orioles win this series?
This poll is closed