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Orioles-Blue Jays series preview: The battle for the bottom of the AL East

It’s a rare series where the O’s may actually have the starting pitching advantage.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

This series will be the final time that these two teams meet prior to the 2019 trade deadline. Both the Orioles and Blue Jays have their sights set beyond this season. That could mean that any player worth their salt on either roster will be gone by the next time they face off. Unlike the O’s, the Jays have a stockpile of legitimate trade chips, including Marcus Stroman, Justin Smoak, and Ken Giles.

Even still, Toronto has already kickstarted its future. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is holding his own. The 20-year-old has a .247/.326/.414 batting line through 58 games. Fellow rookie Cavan Biggio has been even better at the plate, putting together a .246/.379/.456 line plus five stolen bases in 35 games.

Other hitters to watch out for in their lineup are Eric Sogard and his .305 batting average, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and his team-leading .622 slugging percentage, and Freddy Galvis, who is pacing the team with 18 doubles and 15 home runs.

As bad as the Blue Jays have been, they do have a few studs in the bullpen. Their closer, Giles, owns a 15.39 K/9 rate and a 1.45 ERA. Both Daniel Hudson and Tim Mayza have beefy strikeout numbers (9.32 K/9 and 11.49 K/9, respectively), but they also get into trouble with walks. Hudson issues 4.54 base on balls per nine innings, 5.17 BB/9 for Mayza.

Game 1: Friday, 7:07 p.m. ET, MASN

RHP Dylan Bundy (3-10, 4.91 ERA) vs. RHP Aaron Sanchez (3-11, 6.31 ERA)

The month of June was not kind to Bundy. Opposing hitters are teeing off on him to the tune of a .295 batting average and .505 slugging percentage. On top of that, he is issuing too many walks (nine walks in 25.1 innings). The righty can survive either the hits or the walks, but not both at the same time.

Sanchez could be a valuable available piece at the deadline, but he needs to start pitching better. Each month, his performance has worsened. He went from a 2.32 ERA in March and April to a 5.28 ERA in May and finally a 12.00 ERA this month. However, the former first round pick is still just 27 years old and has enough talent to turn things around.

Game 2: Saturday, 3:07 p.m. ET, MASN

RHP Andrew Cashner (8-3, 4.03 ERA) vs LHP Clayton Richard (1-4, 6.51 ERA)

There has been talk about contending teams looking at Cashner as a bullpen option at the trade deadline, but he is playing like a guy that wants to stay in the rotation moving forward. Over four starts in June, the 32-year-old held hitters to a .180/.221/.247 batting line, and did not allow any home runs.

You can take some solace in the fact that there are other teams with similar pitching problems to the Orioles. Richard starting another game is evidence of that. The southpaw was dreadful in June, compiling a 8.10 ERA, allowing seven home runs, issuing 10 walks and striking out just 10 batters in 23.1 innings. But he was solid in his lone July start (six innings, three runs, seven hits, four strikeouts, one walk).

Game 3: Sunday, 1:07 p.m. ET, MASN

RHP Gabriel Ynoa (0-6, 6.22 ERA) vs. RHP Trent Thornton (2-6, 5.18 ERA)

Ynoa was clinging onto his starting role in his last outing, and came through with a 5.1-inning performance in which he allowed just one run on six hits, three strikeouts and one walk against the Indians. He was far from dominant, but he kept the O’s in a competitive position. For this pitching staff, that is quite the achievement.

Thornton is a 25-year-old rookie, who started against the O’s back on June 11. On that day, he lasted five innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, three walks and four strikeouts. The righty had been giving solid performances until his last two starts in which he threw a total of six innings, allowed 12 runs on 18 hits, three walks and five strikeouts. His ERA ballooned from 4.25 to 5.18.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    0 (The O’s get swept)
    (9 votes)
  • 44%
    1
    (66 votes)
  • 44%
    2
    (67 votes)
  • 4%
    3 (The O’s sweep the Blue Jays)
    (7 votes)
149 votes total Vote Now