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Orioles-Giants series preview: When bad baseball teams collide

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The Orioles are not a good baseball team. The Giants are also quite bad. Enjoy the next three games!

Baltimore Orioles v San Francisco Giants
The last time the Orioles played the Giants, this happened.
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

A classic physics question asks: “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” This question will not be answered in the course of the upcoming series between the Orioles and Giants because these are two bad baseball teams who are playing badly of late. Their offenses are both stoppable forces and their pitching staffs are both movable objects.

The first thing that stands out about the Giants roster is that they are old. According to Baseball Reference, the average age of their position players this season is 30.2. For their pitching staff, the average is 29.8. By comparison, the Orioles batters have an average age of 26.9 years old, while their pitchers average 27.4 years old.

Of the ten players who have batted the most for the Giants this year, just two are under the age of 30. Three of their five most frequent starting pitchers are 30 or older.

The veteran presence is not helping the Giants perform this season. Entering Thursday’s games, they were batting .220/.284/.364 as a team - that’s the worst BA and OBP among NL teams, and the second-worst slugging percentage. Take out pitchers and they’re still bad: .224/.290/.373. The Orioles offense, as fans know, is also not great, combining to bat .239/.299/.402 up to this point in the season. That’s bad, if not quite as bad as the Giants.

The pitching staff, with its 4.74 ERA, is 12th among 15 NL teams, with the starting rotation bearing most of the blame. Giants starters have posted a 5.33 ERA this season, which is 6th-worst in all of MLB. That tucks them in just behind Orioles starters and their 5.47 ERA. Their 22-33 record has them in the conversation for the #1 pick next season, though right now they’re “only” in line for the #6 pick.

The last time the Orioles and Giants played one another, pictured above from August 14, 2016, Jonathan Schoop hit a dramatic three-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning to lift the Orioles to an 8-7 win.

Zero Orioles who played in that game are on the 25-man roster. Mychal Givens is the only 2016 Oriole who might play in this series. The Giants, on the other hand, are still somewhat recognizable, with Buster Posey, Brandons Belt and Crawford, and Joe Panik still on the team from that 2016 squad, as well as starting pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija.

Game 1 - Friday, 7:05

  • Andrew Cashner: 11 GS, 4.55 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 1.331 WHIP, 59.1 IP, 48 SO, 20 BB, 10 HR
  • Drew Pomeranz: 9 GS, 6.45 ERA, 5.82 FIP, 1.726 WHIP, 37.2 IP, 41 SO, 19 BB, 9 HR

With the Orioles starting rotation being what it is, most games this season aren’t ones where you can look at the two starting pitchers and think that the Orioles have the one who has been performing better. This series opener is one such game.

Pomeranz is a lefty. In past years, it’s felt like the Orioles were extremely bad against lefty pitchers. That’s not the case this year, as the team’s .702 OPS against lefties is actually a tiny bit above the .700 OPS against righties. So you don’t have to dread that. Just the general feeling that the Orioles save their worst efforts for cruddy pitchers, a category in which Pomeranz has fit for the past two seasons.

The right-handed Cashner is surprisingly performing well against left-handed batters this season, a .173/.264/.214 batting line against that is impressive. It’s a good sign for this series, as the Giants could end up with five people batting lefty in their starting lineup. Hopefully that’s a skill-based improvement and not luck-based. Anyway, there’s still the righties, who have hit all ten homers that Cashner has allowed this year on the way to a .928 OPS allowed.

Game 2 - Saturday, 4:05

  • David Hess: 11 G, 6.71 ERA, 7.12 FIP, 1.451 WHIP, 51 IP, 44 SO, 19 BB, 18 HR
  • Shaun Anderson: 3 GS, 4.80 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 1.235 WHIP, 15 IP, 9 SO, 4 BB, 2 HR

This may be the real “stoppable force meets movable object” test of the series, as the Giants offense, which has combined to hit just 50 home runs so far this season, goes up against Hess, the MLB leader in home runs allowed. Sheesh.

Anderson, at 24, is one of the few young players on this Giants team. He was a Red Sox third round pick in 2016 and ended up with the Giants in a swap that sent Eduardo Nunez to Boston.

He’s climbed the minor league ranks, never overwhelming enough to seem like one of the game’s top pitching prospects but good enough to keep getting promoted, which was enough to make him the next man up when Derek Holland got kicked out of the rotation for pitching badly. He is the Giants #4 prospect and top-ranked pitching prospect.

Game 3 - Sunday, 1:05

  • Gabriel Ynoa: 10 G, 1 GS, 5.40 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 1.569 WHIP, 21.2 IP, 22 SO, 7 BB, 3 HR
  • Jeff Samardzija: 11 GS, 3.83 ERA, 4.91 FIP, 1.243 WHIP, 56.1 IP, 45 SO, 19 BB, 10 HR

If the FIP assessment of Ynoa’s and Samardzija’s pitching is correct, then Ynoa has been unlucky this year and Samardzija has been lucky. Perhaps the Orioles will find themselves on the right end of this luck evening out on Sunday.

**

For as much as the Giants hitters and starting pitchers have been bad, they have also assembled a collection of relievers who seem to be fine. Of the five guys in the bullpen who’ve thrown the most innings, the highest ERA is the 3.42 belonging to Reyes Moronta. Compare that to the five Orioles relievers who’ve pitched the most, where the lowest ERA is Paul Fry’s 3.74. Yikes.

The Giants have lost seven of their last eight games, including a series where they just dropped three of four games to the lowly Marlins. They now get to face the lowly Orioles, who are on a 4-15 heater going into this series. These bad baseball teams are about to crash into one another and whichever team wins fewer games in the series can feel fairly sure that right now, they are truly the worst of the worst.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    3 (The Orioles sweep)
    (17 votes)
  • 43%
    2
    (59 votes)
  • 37%
    1
    (50 votes)
  • 6%
    0 (The Orioles get swept)
    (9 votes)
135 votes total Vote Now