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Orioles-Blue Jays series preview: Second half of the season kicks off in Canada

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While the Orioles head north of the border, their lone All-Star remains in the States. The post-Machado era officially begins tonight.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Birdland, you’ve had four days to rest your baseball watching eyes and recover from a 28-69 first half. How could this team get any worse, you may ask. How about subtracting the team’s best player? Starting this evening, somebody other than Manny Machado will be at shortstop. The rebuild has begun and the rest of the season will be played with an eye towards 2019 and beyond.

The first half ended on a positive note for Baltimore. They are riding a two game winning streak and are 4-6 in their last ten games. For a team with a .289 winning percentage, that’s better than average! They’ll look to continue that momentum during this three game series in Toronto. The O’s have had trouble with the Jays this season, winning only one of seven contests. Toronto has outscored Baltimore 39-18 in those seven games.

The Blue Jays are the team directly above the O’s in the American League East standings and enter season’s second half of play with a 43-52 record. They finished the first half poorly, having lost two in a row and seven of ten. At fourteen games back of a wild card spot, they’d need a miracle to happen if they want to play meaningful games down the stretch.

With that disappointing record (despite starting the season 15-10), Toronto will also look to sell off some veteran pieces by the July 31 trading deadline. With that date less than two weeks away, it is possible that both of these clubs could have pieces removed during this series. J.A. Happ will be their biggest trade chip, with Yangervis Solarte, Curtis Granderson, and multiple veteran bullpen arms also possibilities. The player who could have landed them the most in a trade, Josh Donaldson, is currently on the disabled list. Whether or not you’re happy with the package received for Machado, at least he was healthy and able to be dealt for something of value.

Game 1: Friday, 7:07

RHP Dylan Bundy (6-9, 4.35) vs. RHP Sam Gaviglio (2-3, 4.58)

Dylan Bundy was having a nice season before running the bases in Atlanta and hurting his ankle. In two starts since returning from a short stint on the disabled list, he has allowed ten runs in 7.1 innings. Those two starts caused his ERA to jump .6 runs.

The hope is that a little extra rest over the All Star Break will allow Bundy to return to the form that led to an ERA of 3.75 through that start in Atlanta. He has made only one start against the Blue Jays this season and it came in Baltimore. He allowed two runs over seven inning. O’s fans would be thrilled to see that tonight. Bundy has done a nice job of neutralizing current Toronto hitters with the exception of Justin Smoak. Smoak has three hits in eight at bats against the Baltimore righty.

Gaviglio has been a pleasant surprise for Toronto this season. After being acquired during spring training for a player to be named later, he has appeared in 13 games (11 starts) this season. His ERA and 1.32 WHIP are pedestrian and at 28 years old, he probably doesn’t have much more upside than that. He has managed to strikeout 8.4 batters per nine innings this season and brings a 0.5 WAR into the second half.

Having just made his major league debut last season, Gaviglio hasn’t faced the Orioles yet in his career. Only Tim Beckham has faced him, and is hitless in two at bats. He has had success in his home ballpark. In nine career games at the Rogers Centre, he has a tidy 2.06 ERA.

Game 2: Saturday, 1:07

Alex Cobb (2-12, 6.41) or Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.56) vs. Marcus Stroman (2-7, 5.86)

It appears as though Cobb and Cashner will pitch the final two games of this series, but Buck Showalter hasn’t determined the order yet. Alex Cobb would like to put his first half behind him. He leads the league in losses and his WHIP is an ugly 1.58. The excuse of arriving late to spring training is starting to wear thin. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but he has to progress back toward his career numbers at some point. His Fielding Independent Pitching rate (5.11) suggests he’s pitched better than his ERA. This is a pitcher whose career ERA was 3.50 before this season.

Two of Cobb’s three July starts have been “quality starts.” He pitched well in his most recent outing despite picking up the loss; he allowed two runs in 6.1 innings to Texas. However, he’s struggled in his career against Toronto and in the Rogers Centre. He has a career ERA of 4.59 in nine career starts against the Jays. The numbers are worse when performing north of the border. His ERA in the Rogers Centre is 7.06.

Andrew Cashner is currently on the disabled list with a neck injury and missed his last start of the first half. His last outing before landing on the DL came against the Yankees when he allowed five runs in 6.1 innings. Cashner has allowed a ton of baserunners this season (1.52 WHIP) which has led to his mediocre ERA.

Cashner needs to pay extra attention to Randall Grichuk, who has has two homers in eight at bats against him. Kevin Pillar is hitting .400 off of Cashner in ten at bats. Despite his average 2018 campaign, Cashner has been very good against the Blue Jays. He hasn’t won in his two starts against them, but has pitched to a 2.08 ERA.

It has been a rough year for Marcus Stroman. After receiving Cy Young Award votes following last season, he has struggled with injuries and and ineffectiveness. If his ERA isn’t ugly enough, his WHIP is a horrid 1.50. He is giving up hits, walks, and home runs at a career-worse pace. His strikeout numbers are only down a tick at 7.1 per nine innings. In addition to having a down year, he made waves after Sunday’s game by using explicit language and describing his team as “terrible.”

In nine career starts against the Orioles, Stroman is 3-4 with an ERA of 3.83. Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini have owned Stroman in their careers. Trumbo is hitting .400 in twenty at bats. Mancini’s sample size is much smaller (seven at bats) but he has five hits. Adam Jones is hitting .320 off of Stroman.

Game 3: Sunday, 1:07

Cobb or Cashner vs. J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29)

As mentioned earlier, Happ will be one of the most sought after starting pitchers in advance of the trading deadline. Orioles hitters will be happy if a trade happens before 1:00 on Sunday. Happ has made two starts against Baltimore this year and is 2-0 and allowed just one total run. He dominated the O’s on his way to a 2018 All Star Game appearance.

Happ has pitched better than his ERA suggests. His Fielding Independent Pitching mark of 4.02 indicates that his defense has let him down slightly. His WHIP is a respectable 1.19 and his ten strikeouts per game is the best of his career. It is easy to see why a competitive team would like to add him to their staff. He definitely holds true to left-right splits. Left-handed batters are batting only .181 against him this year. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Chris Davis get an early second half rest on Sunday.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    0 (O’s get swept)
    (80 votes)
  • 49%
    1
    (119 votes)
  • 13%
    2
    (32 votes)
  • 4%
    3 (O’s sweep)
    (11 votes)
242 votes total Vote Now