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Orioles-Dodgers series preview: Trying to hang with the big boys

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As the 2019 season winds down, the lowly Orioles face a stiff test against the best team in the National League.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time, yet again, for some interleague action at Camden Yards.

The National League West leading Dodgers come to Baltimore today for the start of a three-game series. They bring with them a 93-52 record, which is a far cry from the 2019 Orioles win-loss breakdown. While the Dodgers are 5-5 in their last 10 games, the O’s are 2-8.

The last time these two teams faced each other was all the way back in 2016 when the Orioles took two of three at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles brings a potent lineup into Camden Yards, led by MVP candidate Cody Bellinger. He is tied with Christian Yelich and Eugenio Suarez for the second most home runs in the NL with 44 while leading in WAR (8.2) and OPS (1.052). As a team, the Dodgers lead the NL in several major offensive categories, including runs (792), home runs (255), total bases (2,339) and OPS (.816), to name a few.

The NL West leaders also have the pitching to match their hitting. They have the best ERA in all of baseball at 3.41 and opponents are batting only .226 against them, which is second best in MLB.

One of the teams in this series is gearing up for the postseason, while the other is running out the clock on 2019. Just look at the pitching matchups below — with the exception of Baltimore’s John Means in game two — and you can see how over-matched the Orioles are coming into this series.

Game 1: Tuesday 7:05 PM

RHP Walker Buehler (12-3, 3.28 ERA) vs. LHP Ty Blach (1-2, 10.95 ERA)

Former 2015 first-round pick Walker Buehler continues to impress in his young career. Of his many eye-opening numbers, the righty is averaging 10.7 SO/9 and 6.79 SO/W in 26 games started this year. Despite only pitching 159.1 innings, Buehler has racked up an impressive 190 strikeouts. His 1.04 WHIP is also among the league leaders in the National League.

Ty Blach makes his fifth start as an Oriole in game one of the Dodgers series, and he has had unfortunate results up to this point. Before joining the O’s, Blach pitched in two games this season with the Giants, during which he gave up 10 earned runs in 6.1 innings. With Baltimore this year, he’s given up 20 earned runs in 18.1 innings. On the season, he’s giving up an unsightly 5.8 BB/9. Blach’s best start was actually his most recent, when he allowed two runs over five innings against the Rays on September 3. But he still surrendered four walks versus only two strikeouts in that outing.

Game 2: Wednesday, 7:05 PM

RHP Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.42 ERA) vs. LHP John Means (10-10, 3.50 ERA)

Stripling has pulled double duty for the Dodgers this year, making 13 starts and 15 appearances out of the bullpen. He’s shown remarkable consistency in both roles, registering a 3.57 ERA as a starter and 3.38 ERA as a reliever. In July, Stripling was 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA over five starts and then he missed the entire month of August with right biceps tendinitis. He has pitched five scoreless innings over two appearances in September, including one start.

John Means went through a rough stretch immediately following his first appearance in the All-Star game, but the young left-hander has shown well for himself more recently. In each of his last four starts, Means has pitched at least five innings while allowing two earned runs or fewer. Over that time span, he has a 9.5 SO/W ratio.

Game 3: Thursday. 7:15 PM

LHP Rich Hill (4-1, 2.55 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Bundy (6-13, 5.06 ERA)

The Dodgers’ Rich Hill has been playing baseball for 15 years, appearing with eight different teams over that time span. Look all the way back at the 2009 Orioles roster and you’ll see 29-year-old Rich Hill, who put up a 7.80 ERA with the Birds. He was a late bloomer who didn’t really figure it out how to pitch until his age 36 season, but for the past four years he has gone 39-19 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 10.5 SO/9 and 3.75 SO/W.

It’s been more than two months since Hill has pitched though. He went on the injured list all the way back on July 3 with a left forearm strain, and his start on Thursday will be his first since the injury. The crafty lefty has thrown 27.1 innings at Camden Yards over the course of his career with a 7.90 ERA and 1.90 WHIP.

Bundy takes the hill for the O’s in the series finale, hoping to build some positive momentum at the end of what has been another disappointing season for the former flame-throwing first-round draft pick. The right-hander had a 4.11 ERA in six starts in the month of August, and in his lone September start he allowed five runs in six innings. He’s allowed 28 home runs in 144 innings this year, which does not bode well against a team that was third in all of baseball in home runs (255) at the start of play Tuesday.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    3 (sweep)
    (10 votes)
  • 4%
    2
    (7 votes)
  • 34%
    1
    (53 votes)
  • 54%
    0 (get swept)
    (85 votes)
155 votes total Vote Now

Stats courtesy of ESPN and Baseball Reference.