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Orioles-Yankees series preview: Four games to give up more home runs

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If the Orioles give up homers like they did in their last series against the Yankees, the home run record could fall in this four-game set.

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Are you ready for the Orioles to officially make history? The team is now 18 home runs away from setting a new all-time record for home runs allowed in a season. When the O’s played the Yankees at Camden Yards last week, they gave up 16 home runs in three games. If they give up home runs at the same pace over this coming four-game set, the record will be theirs with more than 40 games remaining to make it one of baseball’s unbeatable records.

These will be the final games where the O’s are playing the Yankees this season. The Yankees are surely sad about it. They’re 13-2 against the O’s in 2019, scoring nearly eight runs per game. Their battering of the O’s is a big reason they’re running away with the AL East. Though honestly, the Yankees are beating up the whole East. They’re 8-5 against the Blue Jays, 12-5 against the Rays, and 11-4 against the Red Sox. Kind of amazing they’re not up by more than 8.5 games when you look at it that way.

What remains absurd about these Yankees is how they are doing what they are doing in spite of all of their injuries. They have 17 players on the injured list, including several players who were expected to be key parts of the team. They just keep replacing names like Giancarlo Stanton and Edwin Encarnacion with guys like Luke Voit (actually last year’s out-of-nowhere Yankee performer, who is himself hurt this year) and Mike Tauchman.

Tauchman is second on the Yankees with 3.5 bWAR. He trails 30-year-old infielder DJ LeMahieu, who entered the season with a career .756 OPS with the Rockies. One two-year, $24 million contract with the Yankees later and LeMahieu is batting .334/.382/.528. He has a 4.8 WAR for the season.

The ten Yankees who have more than 200 plate appearances this season all have an OPS+ above 100, meaning that their entire lineup and then some consists of above-average hitters. The offense is so good that it doesn’t even matter that their rotation has been middle of the pack, with a 4.78 ERA allowed on the season. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to have Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, and Zack Britton for the late innings when the worst ERA of the bunch is 2.98.

I hate this team. Let’s talk about the series.

Game 1 - Monday, 1:05

  • Gabriel Ynoa: 25 G, 8 GS, 5.57 ERA, 5.45 FIP, 1.395 WHIP, 76 IP, 47 SO, 21 BB, 15 HR
  • James Paxton: 20 GS, 4.40 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 1.427 WHIP, 102.1 IP, 130 SO, 39 BB, 19 HR

At this point in the season, Ynoa has thrown the fourth-most innings of any Orioles pitcher despite having just the eight starts. It’s a reflection partly of how often he was used as a long reliever even when he wasn’t starting, and also just how bad some of the previous rotation options like David Hess and Dan Straily had been.

One other thing Ynoa is a symbol of is how bad the Orioles are, as a team, at striking out opposing batters. They entered Sunday’s play with the fewest strikeouts of any AL staff, and Ynoa, with a 5.6 SO/9, has one of the worst rates on the team. When batters do make contact against the O’s pitchers, we know what often happens, so it’s really a bad combination.

When the Yankees traded for Paxton this past offseason, they were probably hoping for better results out of him than this. While they’ve gotten the strikeouts they signed up for, with Paxton’s 11.4 SO/9 near his career best from last season, his walk rate is up to about one per 11 batters and his BABIP has spiked to .346. Maybe that means he’s had some bad luck, since his career BABIP allowed is .308. If any offense is going to even out his luck, it’s going to be the Orioles.

Game 2 - Monday, 7:05

  • TBD
  • TBD

MASN’s Roch Kubatko speculated yesterday that the Orioles game 2 starter could end up being Ty Blach, 28, who’s expected to serve as the 26th man for the doubleheader.

If you have never thought about Blach before, that’s because the O’s only claimed him on waivers on August 3. Blach had a respectable 4.28 ERA in 118.2 innings for the Giants last year, which didn’t stop San Francisco from sending him to the minors for the first time since 2016, where he had a 5.93 ERA in 17 games for Triple-A Sacramento. In other words, he’s just bad enough a pitcher to be an emergency option for the O’s.

Game 3 - Tuesday, 7:05

  • John Means: 22 G, 18 GS, 3.36 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 1.161 WHIP, 101.2 IP, 83 SO, 28 BB, 15 HR
  • Domingo German: 20 G, 19 GS, 4.05 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.119 WHIP, 109 IP, 117 SO, 25 BB, 23 HR

German has been the best Yankees starter to date and the best Orioles starter to date, Means, has still been performing better than him. That’s fun to say. I am not sure how long this will continue to be true. In four post-All-Star starts, Means has a 7.11 ERA, and there was also an injured list stint in there.

No one in Birdland wants Means to have his fairy tale season interrupted like Cinderella’s halting at midnight, but good wishes aren’t enough to stop that outcome. The last time Means faced the Yankees was in that last O’s-Yankees series, and he gave up four runs in just 3.2 innings.

We all know pitcher wins and losses aren’t worth a whole lot. German’s 15-2 record for the season is eye-popping on the surface. Dig a little deeper and there are ten games where German received 6+ runs of support from his offense. He is 8-0 in those ten games despite a 5.34 ERA. To his credit, German is 6-0 in games where he gets 3-5 runs of support and has a 2.06 ERA. Dare we consider the old “pitching to the score” explanation?

Game 4 - Wednesday, 1:05

  • Dylan Bundy: 22 GS, 5.04 ERA, 5.06 FIP, 1.347 WHIP, 114.1 IP, 118 SO, 39 BB, 24 HR
  • J.A. Happ: 23 GS, 5.48 ERA, 5.67 FIP, 1.350 WHIP, 120 IP, 95 SO, 32 BB, 29 HR

Happ was last year’s Yankees trade acquisition, and his 2.69 ERA over 11 starts down the stretch helped them a lot. That success also did not carry over at all into 2019 after the Yankees signed him to a free agent contract in the offseason. Your eyes do not deceive you, this makes two straight games where the Orioles starter has a lower ERA than the other team’s starter.

The run support stands out in Happ’s win-loss record as well. He’s 9-7 for the season, largely because there are 11 games where he’s got a 6-1 record despite a 5.27 ERA. Those 11 games are the ones where he has gotten 6+ runs of support. Unlike German, Happ has been about as bad in games with 3-5 runs of support, though he’s still got a 3-3 record in those games.

This will be the fourth start for Bundy against the Yankees so far this season. He gave up nine runs in just 13 innings in the other three starts before this. In four starts since the All-Star break, Bundy has posted a more respectable 4.03 ERA, so it’ll be nice if he’s able to continue a solid second half. Better feelings about Bundy going into next year would make early thoughts about the 2020 Orioles a bit less depressing than this year’s team has often been.

**

The Orioles are 1-5 so far in the stretch of 13 games that everyone could feel pretty confident would be bad. The only reason that they are not 0-6 is an improbable ninth inning comeback yesterday, capped by Rio Ruiz’s walkoff Eutaw Street dinger.

Seven games remain before they escape this gauntlet. Although this could still be a stretch that sends the Orioles back into having the #1 pick in the 2020 draft, they’re currently three games ahead of the Tigers in the standings. They’d have to be really bad to get back below Detroit. They could be that bad. We’ve all seen them. It’s just a lot more fun when they win.

Statistics used from Baseball Reference, Fangraphs

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    0 (The Orioles get swept)
    (52 votes)
  • 51%
    1
    (63 votes)
  • 2%
    2
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    3
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    4 (The Orioles sweep the Yankees)
    (2 votes)
122 votes total Vote Now