As the list of teams impacted by COVID-19 continues to grow, some form of schedule disruption has shifted from the exception to the norm. The Orioles, who are no stranger to the occurence, will take on another team with first-hand experience— the Philadelphia Phillies.
Here’s hoping neither team will be further impacted by the virus.
The Phillies will host Baltimore today in the first of a three-game series. Philadelphia will take on the Birds after completing four games in the last three days. After the first of a four-game set against the Braves was postponed for inclement weather, the Phils managed to work a series split.
Philadelphia won the first on the back of a familiar name— Jake Arrieta worked six scoreless innings to notch his first win of the season. The righty allowed just three hits, one walk and struck out six.
A long time has passed since Arrieta allowed six runs a game in Baltimore, but he’s a bit removed from his stunning success in Chicago as well. Now pitching in a contract year, the 34-year-old once again has something to prove. After an injury plagued 2019, Arrieta is set to pitch at the end of the series.
If Arrieta’s three-year, $70 million deal with the Phillies feels like old news, one could hardly blame you. The club from the City of Brotherly Love has been no stranger to shelling out large contracts.
In March of 2019, the Phillies inked former prodigy Bryce Harper to a record-setting $330 million deal. The 13-year contract swiped the outfielder away from a division rival, and ensured a middle-of-the-order bat for years to come.
For what it’s worth, Harper has slashed .267/.436/.500 through 10 games this season. After a rocky start had fans booing before the check ink dried, Harper bounced back to post a .260/.372/.510 in his first full season in Philly.
Harper’s deal, while still outlandish, is not the most recent splurge made by the Phillies. Philadelphia inked free-agent hurler Zack Wheeler to a five year, $118 million deal back in December.
Wheeler flashed brilliance in a Mets’ rotation that appeared poised to dominate for years, but ultimately disappointed. He posted strong, yet hardly dominant, numbers with an 11-8 record, 3.96 ERA, 1.259 WHIP and 3.48 FIP over 31 starts last season. Still, that was enough for the Phillies, White Sox and others to come calling.
Wheeler will take the ball tonight for his third start of the season. His first two, both wins, yielded only three earned runs through 13 innings. Perhaps the Orioles can ride their five-run inning against Stephen Strasburg on Sunday into more success over another first-round pick.
Despite a below .500 record, Philadelphia’s roster is filled with household names. Catcher J.T. Realmuto was named an All Star the last two years, and appears ready to produce again in a contract year. Ex-Yankee Didi Gregorius signed a one year, $14 million deal to play shortstop in Philly this season, and former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen is back after a torn ACL in 2019.
Zach Eflin is set to start the second game of the series for Philly. The righty tossed four scoreless innings on Thursday in his first start of the season. Eflin’s July was slowed by back spasms, and the Orioles could make their way into Philadelphia’s bullpen with early success on Wednesday.
That bullpen is still finding itself. Anchored by closer Hector Neris, Philadelphia is also looking for production out of Jose Alvarez, Adam Morgan and our old friend Tommy Hunter. Perhaps Hunter will remind Orioles fans of an old nickname or two during an inning of relief this week.
Series scheduled games:
Tuesday, August 11, 7:05 PM: Zack Wheeler vs. Alex Cobb
Wednesday, August 12. 7:05 PM: Zach Eflin vs. Wade LeBlanc
Thursday, August 13, 4:05 PM: Jake Arrieta vs. TBD
The Orioles appeared to be outmatched in the starting pitching category, which makes bullpen play on both sides even more important. Baltimore must either score early, or at least work counts and find its way to Philadelphia’s relievers.
Baltimore’s offense has showed enough pop to be confident after a few tough performances against the Marlins. The Birds will need that production to continue if they hope to take the series at Citizens Bank Park.
How many games will the Orioles win against the Phillies?
This poll is closed
3 (O’s sweep)
0 (Phillies sweep)