Fresh off dropping two of three in Cleveland — the sixth straight series the Orioles have failed to win — the Birds head to Toronto to face an opponent that’s absolutely owned them this year. The Blue Jays have won nine of their 10 games against the O’s this season, including two straight sweeps at Rogers Centre, where the two clubs will meet again.
It’s one thing to get consistently dominated by an actual good team. I mean, when the Red Sox go 14-2 against the Orioles, we all get it. But the Blue Jays? They’re the second-worst team in the division (55-69), and they’ve been in sell-off mode, trading away J.A. Happ, Steve Pearce, and about half their bullpen. If the Blue Jays didn’t play the Orioles this year, they’d be 46-68. The Orioles are the only thing propping them up to “pretty bad” instead of “laughably horrible.”
Toronto’s offense has torched O’s pitching for a .298/.366/.514 line, crushing 18 home runs in 10 games. Plenty of otherwise mediocre Jays hitters have inexplicably destroyed the Orioles, including Randal Grichuk (nine extra-base hits, including four homers, in 36 PAs); Aledmys Diaz (two homers, .990 OPS), and Curtis Granderson (three homers, 1.111 OPS).
Game 1: Monday, 7:07 PM
RHP Andrew Cashner (4-10, 4.71) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (6-9, 4.87)
Cashner has been a steady presence in the Orioles’ rotation, giving the team a chance to win nearly every time he pitches. In his 12 starts since the start of June, eight have been quality outings, and one of the non-quality starts was a game in D.C. in which he pitched four shutout innings before a rain delay ended his night early. During that span, Cashner has a 4.39 ERA, but if you take out his one disastrous start in Texas (when he gave up 10 runs in 1.2 innings), that mark drops to 3.14. Cashner has already faced the Jays three times this year and has a 1.93 ERA, but no wins to show for it.
The Blue Jays’ rotation has been in such flux this season — between injuries, ineffectiveness, and trades — that no pitcher is on pace to make 30 starts this year. Estrada might come the closest; this will be his team-leading 22nd start. He’s the Jays’ ace by default despite a 4.87 ERA.
This will be Estrada’s third start against the Orioles this year. They roughed him up for four runs in four innings in Baltimore on April 11, but he got his revenge with a nine-strikeout quality start in Toronto on June 10. Three current Orioles — Chris Davis, Adam Jones, and Mark Trumbo — have multiple homers against Estrada in their careers, although Trumbo is expected to go on the DL before this series with inflammation in his knee.
Game 2: Tuesday, 7:07 PM
RHP Dylan Bundy (7-11, 4.99) vs. RHP Sam Gaviglio (2-6, 5.13)
If someone has an explanation for what’s gone wrong with Dylan Bundy, the Orioles would love to hear it. The once-promising season of the Birds’ Opening Day starter has gone haywire. Since returning from the DL with a left ankle sprain in the first week of July, Bundy has been racked for five or more runs in five of his seven starts (one of which was against the Blue Jays, a five-inning, five-run mess July 20). Is he pitching hurt? If so, it might not be a terrible idea for the O’s to shut down Bundy for the year, especially once rosters expand in September.
The 28-year-old Gaviglio is playing for his fourth organization but seems to have found a home in the Blue Jays’ rotation, where he’s been since mid-May. He’s a soft-tossing specialist who averages just 88 mph on his fastball but can have success with his wipeout slider. He’s been hittable, as his 10.2 hits per nine will attest, but the out-of-contention Blue have nothing to lose by giving the guy a longer look. Gaviglio faced the Orioles a month ago and enjoyed the longest outing of his career, working 7.2 innings, along with a career-high eight strikeouts. That sounds about right.
Game 3: Wednesday, 12:37 PM
RHP David Hess (2-7, 5.95) vs. LHP Thomas Pannone (0-0, 6.00)
It’s been an up-and-down rookie season for Hess, who started his big league career with four quality starts in his first five outings, then was blasted for five or more runs in four straight starts and got bounced out of the rotation. He’s back now and is coming off a six-inning, two-run performance against the Indians. It was his first quality start since June 7, when he held these Blue Jays to one run in six innings in Toronto, though the O’s lost the game anyway.
Thomas Pannone might be an unfamiliar name to you, but a baseball expert such as myself has certainly heard of him, of course! Why, I can easily tell you that Pannone is a... (googling) ... 24-year-old left-hander who... (more googling) ... was drafted in 2013 by the Indians and... (desperately, frantically googling) ...was traded to the Blue Jays for Joe Smith last year. I mean, obviously! I totally knew that. This will be his first major league start after making three relief appearances.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series?
This poll is closed
3 (Orioles will sweep)
0 (Orioles will get swept)