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Orioles-Yankees series preview: It doesn’t get any easier

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The Yankees are battling for first in the AL East. The Orioles are battling for worst in MLB. They play one another for the next four games.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

A long time ago, before it was clear how horrible this Orioles season was going to be, they took three out of four games on the road against the Yankees. Though that seems like it took place in a different year or decade, it was less than two months ago. With the O’s now 17-39 with a 7-23 road record, and the Yankees now 35-17, the result of that previous series is even more bizarre.

Wouldn’t it be funny if the Orioles took three out of four from the Yankees again here? No, don’t hold your breath. The Yankees have laid waste to just about everyone else they’ve played, and it’s shaping up to be a back-and-forth battle for the rest of the year between them and the Red Sox for the AL East title. Boston currently has a modest edge and I bet the Yankees are happy to have four games against this flailing Orioles disaster.

What new is there to say about these jabronis at this point? They have lost five games in a row. They have scored more than three runs in just two of their past fifteen games. They are 9-19 in May. Their starting rotation is one of the worst in MLB, again.

As a team, the Orioles allow the worst BABIP in MLB, a .328 mark that is significantly worse than even the second-worst teams at .310. This reflects the Orioles defense being generally horrible. Oh, and the bullpen is pretty bad too. The Orioles are basically bad at everything, except for losing. They’re very good at losing.

Game 1 - Thursday, 7:05

Sonny Gray (3-4, 5.98 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (2-6, 5.07)

When the Yankees acquired Gray from Oakland last July, this was seen at the time as another case of the rich getting richer. Gray pitched well enough for the Yankees last year. It’s not going so well for the 28-year-old righty in 2018, with Gray’s walk rate spiking significantly. In his career before this year, Gray had a BB/9 of 2.9. Through 10 starts in 2018, it’s 5.1.

Remarkably, right-handed batters are hitting .318/.395/.533 against Gray this season. O’s fans aren’t surprised when a pitcher is this bad - merely when it’s another team’s pitcher who is so bad. The question for Thursday will be whether this version of Gray is still better than this pathetic Orioles offense. I think we both suspect we know the answer already.

Cashner, of course, is one of the latest Orioles free agent pitcher signings that make you wonder if they have any idea what a good pitcher looks like or how to go about signing one. He allowed 15 homers all last season and has already surrendered 11 this year. Say, do you know which AL team has hit the most homers this season? Hint: They’re facing Cashner tonight. Take cover.

Game 2 - Friday, 7:05

Masahiro Tanaka (6-2, 4.62 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (3-4, 4.31)

I would be happy if there was an Orioles starting pitcher sporting the 1.091 WHIP Tanaka currently has. That’s translated into a not-great ERA so far - not that it’s hurt Tanaka’s record any, because hey, it’s good to pitch for the Yankees when their offense is absurd.

Tanaka has been around for a little while now and some longtime O’s have a good bit of action against him. The results range from bad (Manny Machado - .531 OPS in 27 PA) to very good (Adam Jones - 1.108 OPS in 25 PA). I’m reminded of Jones’s quote when Tanaka was brand new to MLB and a reporter asked Jones about facing Tanaka. Jones replied: “Why don’t you ask Tanaka about facing me?” Tanaka probably doesn’t like it much.

There are times where I wonder if Gausman thinks wistfully about Jake Arrieta getting traded away from the clown show that is the Orioles and how much better he got after he left. Is all that’s standing between him and a Cy Young a trade to the Cubs? It wouldn’t shock me. That doesn’t have much to do with this game, but it’s what I’m thinking about as I look at Gausman’s 4.31 ERA.

Game 3 - Saturday, 4:05

Domingo German (0-3, 5.45 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (1-7, 6.80)

When you look at Cobb’s ERA, everything written above about Cashner applies even more. Playing the arbitrary endpoints game, Cobb’s 4.67 ERA in May is significantly less depressing than his season ERA. Then again, if that’s as good as it gets, and he’s signed for four years, that’s actually really depressing.

I’m rooting for Cobb to get better for this team and at the same time I’m worried that he will end up being another sign that they have no idea what the hell they’re doing.

By the way, as a team through Tuesday’s games, the Yankees were batting .256/.338/.468.

German has four career starts out of 16 total MLB games. He has given up at least four runs in three of those starts, including six runs surrendered in back-to-back games. Even while struggling, he has struck out a lot of people. His career high is a mere nine. The O’s only have to hit double digits for him to set a new high. That’s not even hard for them!

Game 4 - Sunday, 1:05

CC Sabathia (2-1, 3.55 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (3-6, 4.45)

No active player has faced Sabathia more than Jones. In 96 PA, Jones has an .808 OPS. Machado, who has seen Sabathia 67 times, is even better at 1.076 OPS. Davis, Danny Valencia, and Jonathan Schoop have all seen Sabathia at least 30 times and none of them have done very well.

It may surprise you to know that the Orioles are hitting slightly better against lefties such as Sabathia this season than they are against righties. Then again, their .239/.306/.390 effort against LHP is still pretty bad. That’s the 2018 Orioles for you. Even the good stuff is bad.

And on that note, Bundy. What is the real, long-term version of Bundy? It seems that we still do not know. Does pushing him hard have lasting effects in later games? He was not his sharpest against the Nationals on Tuesday after being unnecessarily pushed to a complete game and 120+ pitches the outing before that. He, too, has been bitten by the long ball this year, giving up 14 dingers.

Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are probably excited to get into this series. Probably so are Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, all of whom have at least 11 homers so far. The Orioles have only one player to hit double digit home runs to date: Machado. This season stinks.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Yankees?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    4 (Orioles sweep)
    (20 votes)
  • 3%
    3
    (12 votes)
  • 10%
    2
    (35 votes)
  • 39%
    1
    (131 votes)
  • 39%
    0 (Orioles get swept)
    (131 votes)
329 votes total Vote Now