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Orioles-Red Sox series preview: Kyle Bradish debuts in home series against Boston

The road trip ended on a sour note, but things could turn around this weekend with #8 prospect Kyle Bradish set to make his major league debut.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles
From last September, Kelvin Gutierrez beating the tag at home.
Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles and Red Sox meet today to start a three-game series at Camden Yards, the first between the two teams this season. It’s been nice not facing the Red Sox yet this year, hasn’t it?

With an 8-12 record, the Red Sox are just 1.5 games ahead of the Orioles in the A.L. East. That’s probably not what the team expected to be, even this early in the season. They’ve spent the last week-plus playing division rivals, first going 1-2 against the Blue Jays at home, then started their road trip losing two of three to the Rays and three of four to the Jays. No doubt they are hoping a trip to Camden Yards will help them right their ship.

It’s not that the Red Sox have been bad so far this year. They’ve just been incredibly average, and average doesn’t cut it in this division. As a team they are scoring 3.79 runs per game, just below the league average of 3.97. They are allowing 4.05 runs per game, just above the league average of 4.02.

The best starter for the Red Sox so far this season has been, by far, Michael Wacha. The Orioles are lucky to miss him. But they won’t miss Nathan Eovaldi or Tanner Houck, who is slated to piggy back with Rich Hill in tonight’s game.

On offense, shortstop Xander Bogaerts has an impressive .942 OPS, though he has just one home run so far. J.D. Martinez is continuing to do J.D. Martinez things out of the DH spot. Only Bogaerts, Martinez, and Trevor Story are sporting an OBP above .300. Rafael Devers shares the team lead with three home runs but his OBP is hanging down in the 290s.

Speaking of Devers, here’s hoping Jim Palmer is in the booth this weekend so we can enjoy listening to him destroy Devers’s defense.

Game 1: Friday, April 29th, 7:05 p.m., MASN

Kyle Bradish (Major League debut) vs. Rich Hill (3 GS, 4.85 ERA/5.62 FIP)

The first prospect is here! Kyle Bradish is making his debut tonight, the first of hopefully many exciting call ups of the season (no offense, Alexander Wells and Spenser Watkins). Bradish is ranked by Camden Chat as the O’s #8 prospect and has posted a 1.20 ERA in three starts this year for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. He appeared in 21 games for the Tides in 2021 so he has plenty of Triple-A time under his belt. From FanGraphs:

Once sitting in the low-90s while touching 95 mph, Bradish now parks his fastball in the 94-96 mph range, and while the qualities of the fastball make it quite difficult to locate within the lower half of the strike zone, he uses the upper half to great effect. He complements the fastball with a pair of good breaking balls, with his downer curve giving him a classic vertical attack and a sweeping slider adding a horizontal aspect to his game.

Good luck tonight, Kyle!

For the Red Sox, it’ll be super-old-guy-who-is-still-a-year-younger-than-me Rich Hill. It feels like a lifetime ago that Hill was putting up a 7.80 ERA for the 2009 Orioles. His late-30s career revival has stretched into an early-40s career revival. It’s still early of course, but his 4.85 ERA is the highest he’s had in a season since 2013. His strikeout rate has been way down this year, but maybe he just needs to face the Orioles to get back in the groove. Or maybe he’s finally showing his age at 42 years old.

It’s been announced that Tanner Houck will be taking the relief work after Hill in this game. Houck has been a part of the rotation until he had to miss the trip to Toronto due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19. Garrett Whitlock took his place in the rotation up there and Houck is in relief duty for now. It would behoove the Orioles to get some runs off of Hill because Houck has been very good this year.

Game 2: Saturday, April 30th, 7:05 p.m., MASN

TBD - I guess Spenser Watkins (3 GS, 2.77 ERA/5.92 FIP) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (4 GS, 3.32 ERA/5.62 FIP)

Why don’t the Orioles announce their starting pitchers in a timely fashion? The world may never know. Spenser Watkins’s turn in the rotation is actually today, but as we’ve heard it’ll be Bradish getting a chance. Since the Orioles won’t tell us who is starting the night before the series starts, I’m guessing Watkins is just being pushed back a day.

Last year’s feel-good story, Watkins has made the most of his chances so far in 2022 despite my shock that he’s even on the team. In his three starts this season he has given up 1, 1, and 2 runs, which is good for a 2.77 ERA. That’s very nice!

He has gotten lucky that his seven walks in those three games mostly hasn’t hurt him, and his pitching line for his last start is marred by two home run allowed in five innings (they were both to Mike Trout). He’ll need to do better than a 1.23 WHIP if he wants to keep that ERA at such a pretty number.

Eovaldi is now in his fifth season with the Red Sox and has made 15 career starts against the Orioles with a 3.74 ERA. In 2021, he held them to just four runs in three starts. That’s pretty darn good. I fully expect he’ll dominate the Orioles.

Game 3: Sunday, May 1st, 1:05 p.m., MASN

TBD - I guess Jordan Lyles (4 GS, 5.20 ERA/5.53 FIP) vs. Nick Pivetta (4 GS, 8.27 ERA/6.69 FIP)

If the starter on Sunday is indeed Lyles, hopefully he’ll live more up to his innings eater label in this game than he did against the Yankees in his last start. In that game, Lyles fell one out short of completing five innings and gave up six runs to boot. It was not a good day for him.

It’s been a rough go of things for Pivetta so far this year. He has really struggled with his control, walking 13 batters in just 16.1 innings. You may have heard that the Orioles are pretty good at taking walks this year. I know, it’s weird! If they’re able to take advantage of Pivetta’s lack of control, things could go well for them on Sunday. In five starts against the Orioles last year, Pivetta pitched to a 4.44 ERA and gave up six home runs. More of that, please!

Poll

How many wins will the Orioles get against the Red Sox this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    3 (Sweep!)
    (21 votes)
  • 38%
    2
    (49 votes)
  • 38%
    1
    (49 votes)
  • 6%
    0
    (8 votes)
127 votes total Vote Now

Listen, I know a sweep of the Red Sox is pretty unlikely. But they’re probably going to have at least one sweep this season, why not against the Red Sox? Doing so would put them in fourth place, which is something I would find enjoyable. Let’s go O’s!