If we are being truly honest with ourselves, the Orioles’ chances of chasing down the Blue Jays and taking their Wild Card spot died with the infamous Labor Day Letdown. The O’s currently sit 4.5 games back of the closest Wild Card, which is no longer the Jays but rather the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s the great thing about the 2022 season though: we—as members of Birdland—don’t have to be strictly honest without ourselves. The Never Say Die Orioles (my preferred nickname for the 2022 bunch) have made believing in the impossible the best part of being an Orioles fan this season.
No one believed that this team would rise above the status of 100-game losers. They have. No one believed that a 24-year-old from Sherwood, OR could completely change the complexion of the 2022 Orioles. He has. And no one, and I mean absolutely no one thought on September 16, the Orioles would be in the same galaxy as a playoff appearance. Yet here they are, just down the block from the playoffs house party, trying to figure out how they might sneak their way in.
So, with all that in mind, the Orioles head to Toronto to face off against their rivals the Blue Jays. As I wrote earlier this week, the rivalry this year between the two birds of the AL East has largely epitomized the good and the bad of this O’s season. The fact that the O’s have a winning record (7-6) against an AL East foe in September is a testament to the growth we’ve all seen from this team over this season. However, when it’s gone bad against the Jays, it’s gone really bad. Like, outscored by 4.5 runs per game in losses bad. Like, most of the Orioles lineup struggling to hit above .200 against Toronto in losses bad.
Again though, this series is all about forgetting the disappointing reality that surrounds the Orioles at the moment, and again believing in the impossible. Has anything the Orioles have shown us recently suggested that they can sweep the Jays in Toronto (which is really the only helpful result)? No, absolutely not. Therefore, all of Birdland must suspend their disbelief this weekend and believe that that’s exactly what will happen. After all, Chaos is Comin’, and what would be more chaotic than an Orioles sweep?
Game 1: Friday, September 16th, 7:07pm. Apple TV+
RHP Jordan Lyles (10-10, 4.62 ERA) vs. TBD
Getting the start in national primetime, Lyles hasn’t exactly been the picture of consistency over his last several starts. In fact, his very last start of the season was Lyles’ worst of the season—giving up eight earned runs over 3.2 innings against the Red Sox. If you add the fact Lyles didn’t exactly excel in his only start in Rogers Centre this season (a loss where he gave up four runs over 5.1), you have a scenario that doesn’t exactly scream “here for the taking” for the O’s.
However, Lyles has plenty of motivation to come into this game and change his recent narrative. The 12th-year vet was scheduled to start one of the games in the Labor Day Letdown, before missing the series entirely due to flu-like symptoms. Saturday gives him the opportunity to try and make up his absence in the previous pivotal series against Toronto. The Orioles have had two days off in the week leading up to this series as well, meaning the bullpen is rested in case of an ineffective Lyles outing.
In this spot in the rotation last time out, the Blue Jays opted to use an opener in Julian Merryweather—who threw one inning and then ceded things to six innings of Mitch White. That was not a winning combination for Toronto that day against Tampa, so if they repeat that strategy it may give the O’s a leg up in the opening game. That being said, the Jays do have the 11th-best bullpen ERA in the MLB, so a bullpen game against them is by no means a cakewalk.
Game 2: Saturday, September 17th, 3:07pm, MASN
RHP Kyle Bradish (3-6, 5.01) vs. Jose Berrios (10-5, 5.07 ERA)
Where Lyles might be in his roughest stretch of the season, Kyle Bradish is hitting his stride as 2022 comes down the home stretch. Over his last four starts, the rookie is sporting a 1.44 ERA while holding opponents to a .148 batting average. Throughout the year, many different pitchers have taken turns being “the Orioles’ best starter.” Right now, that guy is Bradish.
The important caveat when it comes to this string of starts for Bradish: his one less-than-stellar outing came against Toronto. In a September 6th start against Toronto, Bradish lasted only three innings, allowing three runs over three innings in his second-shortest start of the season. However, just as Bradish reversed his season-long struggles against Boston in his last start, he will have an opportunity to do the say this weekend vs. Toronto.
While Berrios hasn’t had the season many expected for him, he’s found much more success against the Orioles. The Jays are 2-0 in his two starts against the O’s, including getting the win the second game of the doubleheader on Labor Day. The other start in Toronto was arguably even better—despite Berrios not factoring in the decision. In that game, the righty out of Puerto Rico allowed three runs over seven innings while striking out eight Orioles.
Look for Adley Rutschman to provide some heroics, as he’s currently 4-6 with two 2Bs and a HR against Berrios.
Game 3: Sunday, September 18th, 1:37pm, MASN
RHP Dean Kremer (7-5, 3.34) vs. RHP Alek Manoah (14-7, 2.43 ERA)
If Berrios is the midterm, Manoah is the all-inclusive final in terms of a difficult test. His performance against all of MLB has been pretty good. When it comes to facing the Orioles, though, Manoah has been even better. In four starts against Baltimore this year, Manoah has 33 Ks in 23.2 innings, holding Orioles hitters to .193 average. His last start against the O’s was perhaps his best, as Manoah went eight innings while allowing only three hits and one run.
If the Birds are going to crack Manoah’s code, they’ll likely need a big afternoon from noted Blue Jays masher Ryan Mountcastle. The Orioles slugger is 5-18 against Manoah, with two 2Bs and two HRs.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Blue Jays?
This poll is closed
0 (get swept)
3 (do the sweeping)