The Orioles’ brutal April schedule briefly subsided with three games against the sub- .500 Tigers (though the O’s made them look pretty good), but the club faces another tough opponent this weekend. Cleveland currently sits at 9-7 and is trying to win its third straight American League Central title. After getting off to a sluggish start, they have won six of their last eight games and just split a two games series with Minnesota.
Things haven’t looked good for the Birds lately. After being swept in Detroit, the club hasn’t won a game since last Wednesday and is currently sitting at 5-14. Maybe it isn’t time to reach for the panic button just yet, but your hand might get a little closer after looking at the starting pitchers Cleveland will be trotting out there the next four games. Their team ERA of 2.75 ranks third in the majors, and will present a challenge for the O’s cool bats. On the other hand, their offense has scored one fewer run than the Orioles this season, good for 26th in the league.
Cleveland simply handled Baltimore last season, as they won six out of seven matchups and outscored the O’s 40-14. In desperate need of some wins, the Orioles will have to put last season’s results against the Indians behind them as they begin their first multi-series homestand of the season.
Game One: Friday, 7:05 PM
RHP Dylan Bundy (0-2, 1.40) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.25)
Dylan Bundy has been a bright spot in a disappointing April for the Orioles. While he has not recorded a win yet, he has pitched to an ERA of 1.40 in his first four starts. His WHIP is a tidy 1.09 and he’s struck out nearly eleven batters per game. He is coming off his worst start of the season, where he took the loss in Boston by allowing three runs (one earned) in 5.2 innings. Bundy is putting it together and realizing his potential this season and he’ll look to continue that tonight.
On the other side, Trevor Bauer was poised for a big 2018 season and he has delivered thus far. He has not allowed more than two runs in any of his three starts and has averaged over one strikeout per inning. He seems like a difficult matchup for the O’s because of ability to strike batters out and the Orioles’ ability to… strike out. The Birds can find some hope in the fact that Bauer is 1-3 with an ERA of 5.86 in five career starts against Baltimore.
Game Two: Saturday, 4:05 PM
RHP Chris Tillman (0-3, 11.91) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (1-0, 2.70)
There isn’t much left to say about Chris Tillman that hasn’t already been said in Birdland during and after each of his starts. His ERA sits at 11.91 (not the worst on the staff, thanks Alex Cobb!) and he hasn’t looked right and/or healthy. Velocity is down, fastball command is non-existent, and reports indicate that even his bullpen warmups aren’t sharp. The O’s can’t continue this indefinitely and at some point Tillman will be pitching for his roster spot. Cleveland’s power hitters are certainly looking forward to some elevated, high 80s fastballs Tillman has been serving up since last season.
Mike Clevinger, a third-year pitcher, is coming off a nice 2017 campaign and began 2018 by giving up one run over his first two outings. His last start was slightly rocky, as Toronto tagged him for four runs in four innings. He did, however, avoid taking the loss. Clevinger walked 4.4 batters per game last season, so if the O’s can manage to be patient they could create some traffic on the base paths.
Game Three: Sunday, 1:05 PM
RHP Andrew Cashner (1-2, 3.00) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (1-1, 1.57)
Andrew Cashner has been a bright spot for the O’s thus far this season, as those criticizing that signing cited his age, declining velocity, and coming to a small ballpark in a tough division. He’s provided a veteran presence, as indicated by his last gritty outing against Detroit when he gave the team a chance to win without his best stuff. In two career appearances against the Indians, his ERA is 9.90. That number will have to come down if the O’s are to have a chance to win this game against the guy toeing the rubber for the other team.
The O’s have their work cut out for them against two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber who is on pace for another great season. He has won his last two decisions and has turned in a quality start in each of his four appearances. He already has a 13-strikeout performance under his belt this year and is not a good matchup against the free-swinging Birds.
Game Four: Monday, 7:05
RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 2.60)
Gausman will look to build upon a solid outing in Detroit when he pitched six innings and gave up two runs. He struck out only four after a season high seven K’s in his previous start. His season has been trending in the right direction since his first start; he’s given up seven earned runs over his past seventeen innings pitched. Gausman has enjoyed facing Cleveland in his limited experience, registering a 2.53 ERA in four appearances.
Carlos Carrasco led the league with 18 wins last season and is off to a strong start in that regard in 2018. His WHIP thus far is a microscopic 0.80, but his strikeout numbers are down considerably from last season. Carrasco limited Minnesota to three hits over seven shutout innings during his last start.
If there is such a thing as an important series in April, this may be it. The O’s are back at home after a winless road trip and need to compile some wins. That is a tall order against the incredible starting pitching they will be up against the next four days at Camden Yards.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series?
This poll is closed
0 (the Orioles will get swept by the Indians)
4 (the Orioles will sweep the Indians)