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Orioles-Royals series preview: Adley Rutschman takes on Bobby Witt Jr.

The Orioles head to Kansas City for a matchup of the top two draft picks from 2019.

Chicago Cubs v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Adley Rutschman and Bobby Witt Jr. were taken with the first two selections of the 2019 draft. Rutschman has struggled to adjust to major league pitching so far this season, but everyone expects the bat to come around. The matchup with Witt Jr. could be just what Rutschman needs to get the juices flowing.

Time will tell if Rutschman can break out this series, but one thing is certain—both teams should score with ease. Tyler Wells will be the only starting pitcher that holds a sub-four ERA in the four-game set. The O’s, fresh off a barrage of long balls in the Cubs series, will look to keep swinging against the Royals.

Game 1: Thursday, June 9, 8:10 p.m.

LHP Bruce Zimmermann (2-4, 4.87 ERA) vs. LHP Kris Bubic (0-3, 9.33 ERA)

DraftKings odds: Orioles to win -110, Orioles -1.5 +150, Over/under: 9.5

The Orioles will not be the only team swinging for the fences. Bruce Zimmermann has allowed 12 homers in his last five starts. Zimmermann kept Cleveland in the ballpark for 5.2 innings his last time out but still allowed five runs on 10 hits. Zimmermann’s ERA has increased after his last seven starts, and the lefty could certainly use a bounce-back outing against another last-place club.

Speaking of struggling lefties, Kris Bubic has entered the chat. Bubic struggled from the jump this season but did not allow a run in five innings against the Astros last week. The Royals selected Bubic at the end of the first round in 2018. He finished 6-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 20 starts last season.

The Over 9.5 runs certainly looks tempting. Bubic’s ERA jumps off the page, but the Royals have been quick to pull him this year. Bubic’s longest start has lasted just five innings this season, but the Royals held the third worst bullpen ERA as of yesterday afternoon. Zimmermann’s homer-happy history also helps to explain the inflated over/under total.

Game 2: Friday, June 10, 8:10 p.m.

RHP Tyler Wells (2-4, 3.78 ERA) vs. RHP Jonathan Heasley (0-4, 4.62 ERA)

Wells has likely been the Orioles’ most consistent starter this season. He has yet to work deep into games, but that appears to be out of his control with the O’s limiting his workload this season. The converted starter has just two wins on the year, but his 1.070 WHIP and 29/9 K/B ratio serve as a better indicator.

Heasley, another 2018 draft selection, has just eight starts under his belt. The 25-year-old has struggled with his control this year with 18 walks in just 25.1 innings. Heasley walked six batters in an outing against Arizona earlier this month, so a patient approach at the plate would likely serve Baltimore well.

Game 3: Saturday, June 11, 4:10 p.m.

RHP Dean Kremer (0-1, 6.23 ERA) vs. LHP Daniel Lynch (2-5, 5.36 ERA)

Kremer appeared poised for a bullpen role this year before an oblique injury derailed his season debut. The Orioles turned to Kremer for much needed rotation help last week and he provided mixed results. Kremer allowed a three-run homer with two outs in the first inning, but did not allow another run over 3.1 innings. Kremer threw 67 pitches last week, and it will be interesting to see how long Baltimore allows him to work Saturday afternoon.

The Royals selected Lynch just six picks ahead of Bubic in 2018. Apparently the Royals do not share the same first-round phobia that Mike Elias possesses with pitchers. Lynch finished 4-6 with a 5.69 ERA last season and holds a 5.36 ERA through 10 starts this season. His 1.541 WHIP foreshadows at least some success for the Orioles.

Game 4: Sunday, June 12, 2:10 p.m.

Kyle Bradish (1-3, 6.45 ERA) vs. Brad Keller (1-7, 4.19 ERA)

Bradish, the Orioles’ third-best pitching prospect according to, is still figuring things out at the major league level. The 25-year-old dazzled with 11 strikeouts against the Cardinals last month, but he has failed to complete five innings in four of his last five starts. Bradish walked five batters his last time out and just missed qualifying for a win after the Cubs chased him with two outs in the fifth.

Keller has served as an inning eater for the Royals this season. The 26-year-old practically qualifies as a veteran with 94 career starts. Keller has consistently worked into the sixth or seventh inning and would likely hold a better record if he pitched for another team. Keller held the Orioles to just two runs over 14 innings in two career starts.


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

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Four (Orioles sweep)
    (20 votes)
  • 35%
    (66 votes)
  • 47%
    (89 votes)
  • 5%
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    None (Orioles get swept)
    (3 votes)
188 votes total Vote Now