Orioles fans know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of criticism from the baseball world. The A’s finished 86-76 last season but failed to retain a few key pieces. Oakland parted with Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Chris Bassitt before shipping Sean Manaea to San Diego. The Manaea deal triggered some particularly condemning takes.
The Orioles have no reason to be concerned with Oakland’s rebuild. The Birds are only focused on the players they will see on the field this week. Now, thanks to a series win against the Yankees at Camden Yards, the Birds can carry a touch of swagger into California.
The Athletics have held their own so far this season with a 5-5 record. The A’s dropped two of three in Philadelphia before a surprising 3-1 series win over Tampa Bay. Oakland lost two of three in Toronto over the weekend. Paul Blackburn and Daulton Jefferies have bolstered the rotation with surprising starts to begin the year.
Game 1: Monday, April 18th, 9:40 p.m., MASN 2
Spenser Watkins (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Frankie Montas (1-1, 4.76 ERA)
Watkins will enter the series with just a 3.00 ERA, but three of the four runs allowed in his first start were unearned. Watkins hurt his own cause with a throwing error against the Brewers in an eventual loss. Watkins finished 2-7 with a whopping 8.07 ERA after a brief stretch of success last season.
Montas entered 2022 as Oakland’s number one starter after posting a 13-9 record with a 3.37 ERA last year. The righty allowed five runs in 5.1 innings against the Phillies but bounced back in a big way with just one earned run in 6.1 frames against Tampa Bay. Montas only allowed 20 home runs in 32 starts last season, so Baltimore’s bats will likely need to manufacture runs to be successful.
Game 2: Tuesday, April 19th, 9:40 p.m., MASN 2
TBD vs. Cole Irvin (1-1, 5.40 ERA)
The Orioles had not announced a starter for Tuesday as of Sunday night. Baltimore did announce that it placed John Means on the 60-day injured list with a left elbow sprain. The lefty will not pitch again until at least June.
Baltimore could make it a true bullpen game with Jordan Lyles expected to deliver a “normal” start in Game 3. The Orioles have utilized bulk relievers in several games this year. The club could be hesitant to slap Keegan Akin or Mike Baumann with the “starter” title after they have demonstrated early success in relief. It remains to be seen when Baltimore will feel comfortable promoting Kyle Bradish or Grayson Rodriguez.
Cole Irvin allowed four runs on seven hits in his first start of the season at Philadelphia, but the lefty rebounded with a win against Tampa Bay. Unlike Montas, Irvin is more susceptible to the long ball. Irvin allowed three homers to the Phillies and Tampa added another long ball last week.
Game 3: Wednesday, April 20th, 9:40 p.m., MASN 2
Jordan Lyles (0-1, 5.23 ERA), vs. Daulton Jefferies (1-1, 1.93 ERA)
The Orioles will certainly look for a deeper start from Jordan Lyles with relievers expected to carry the weight in Game 2. Lyles kept Baltimore in the game with 5.1 innings of one run ball his last time out against the Yankees. Lyles failed to receive a decision, but the outing marked a drastic improvement from his five earned runs in five innings against the Rays.
A 1.93 ERA jumps off the page regardless of how early it is in the season. Daulton Jefferies allowed just two hits over five scoreless innings against the Phillies before coughing up two runs in 4.1 frames against Toronto. Jefferies, a first-round pick in 2016, is not known as a strikeout pitcher, but Baltimore could put that reputation to the test on Wednesday. The Orioles will enter the series with a league-leading 10.5 strikeouts per game this year.
Game 4: Thursday, April 21st, 3:47 p.m., MASN 2
Tyler Wells (0-1, 6.35 ERA) vs. Paul Blackburn (1-0, 1.80 ERA)
Tyler Wells will make his third career start in the finale against the A’s. Wells failed to make it out of the second inning in his first start, but he reminded everyone why the O’s want him taking the ball every fifth day his last time out. The 27-year-old did not allow a run in four strong innings against New York. Wells allowed three hits, walked two and struck out three against the Yankees.
It will be interesting to see how Wells fairs when facing teams a third time through the lineup, but the former Rule-5 pick will need to keep the pitch count down to gain that opportunity. It would be extremely surprising to see Wells work anything more than five innings against Oakland.
Paul Blackburn has allowed just two runs in 10 innings so far this year. He worked five innings against Tampa and Toronto and notched a win against the Rays. Blackburn’s early success has been attributed to an improved sinker and effective slider. He has not allowed a home run yet this year.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Athletics?
This poll is closed
4 (Orioles sweep)
0 (Orioles get swept)