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Orioles-Tigers series preview: Back in Baltimore, looking for another series win

After an excellent 4-1 road trip, the Orioles are back at Camden Yards to face another below .500 team

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles
Gunnar Henderson has hit 20% of his career home runs against the Tigers.
Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles are flying high after going 4-1 on the road against the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals. Sure, both teams are below .500 but the games they played weren’t against complete slouches, especially on the pitching mound. Now they have another chance to face a below .500 team, this time the 7-10 Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers are getting their first turn through the AL East out of the way early, as they’ve already faced the Red Sox, Rays, and Blue Jays and have gone a combined 1-8. They’ll play the Orioles this weekend and again next week, but weirdly don’t face the Yankees until the final week of August. Let the conspiracy theories fly!

Even with the Tigers’ poor record against the East and overall, I am certainly not going to get cocky. The Tigers were also bad last year (66-96) and the Orioles beat them just once, effectively keeping them out of the playoffs. They’ve also won five out of their last six games against the Guardians and Giants.

So far on the season, the Tigers’ pitching staff has been worse than the Orioles overall, giving up an average of 5.47 runs per game, which is fifth-worst in baseball. For all the Orioles’ troubles so far this year on the mound, they sit at a slightly below-average 4.83.

Offense, though? The Tigers are struggling in a way that the Orioles have not so far. They’ve scored just 57 runs this season, which is the worst in baseball. To be fair to the Tigers, they had to go up against the buzzsaw that was the Rays’ pitching staff to start the year, where they scored just three runs in three games.

If you’re headed to the Yard this weekend you could get one last chance to see future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera as he finishes up an incredible career. He’s played in 10 of the team’s 17 games so far and is really limping to the finish line with a .544 OPS. I remember the last time I saw Ken Griffey Jr. play in 2010 with the Mariners. It was sad. Anyway.

Though the offense has struggled, the Tigers do have a few exciting players to keep an eye on. Outfielder Kerry Carpenter leads the team with a 148 OPS+ and 143 wRC+. The 25-year-old hit well as a late-season callup in 2022 and has gotten even better so far. Catcher Jake Rogers, who splits time almost evenly with Eric Haase, has also been swinging the bat well.

Their lineup also features 22-year-old Riley Greene and 23-year-old Spencer Torkelson. The Tigers are committed to these two young players, who have both played in all 17 games this season.

Torkelson and Greene are both former first-round draft picks, Torkelson in 2020 and Greene in 2019. Before their major league debuts last year, both players were single-digit prospects in baseball, but neither has taken off the way the Tigers might have hoped. Torkelson currently has an 85 OPS+/76 wRC while Riley is better at 97 OPS+/94 wRC+.

I personally hope that with consistent playing time, both players can flourish. I don’t like when other teams’ prospects do poorly because it reminds me that the Orioles could see the same fate.

Game 1: Friday, April 21st, 7:05 PM, MASN2

RHP Tyler Wells (0-1, 3.86 ERA, 11 K) vs RHP Michael Lorenzen (0-0, 13.50 ERA, 6 K)

Lorenzen is making his second start of the year after starting the season on the injured list due to a groin strain. He was slated to be in the rotation prior to his injury and his slot was taken by Joey Wentz, who is scheduled to pitch game two of the series.

Lorenzen’s claim to fame is that he has dabbled in being a two-way player. In 2019 he came out of the bullpen 73 times for the Reds and appeared in 29 games in the outfield (just six starts). In his career he has 34 games in the outfield with a career OPS of .710. He’s no Ohtani, but he’s better than you! (Unless you are reading this, Shohei. Big fan.)

Anyway, Lorenzen had been mainly a relief pitcher for the Reds from 2015-2021, but found a bit of success as a starter with the Angels last year, pitching to a 4.24 ERA in 18 starts. He gives up a few more walks than he should (4.1 per 9/IP in ‘22). In his lone start so far this season he gave up six runs in four innings to the Giants.

Game 2: Saturday, 7:05 pm, MASN2

RHP Kyle Gibson (3-0, 4.18 ERA, 13 K) vs LHP Joey Wentz (0-2, 6.39 ERA, 10 K)

Joey Wentz made seven starts for the Tigers last year and had pretty good results, posting a 3.03 ERA and 3.54 FIP. This year has been a bit of a different story, though his ERA is inflated in the small sample size due to giving up 5 runs in just 1.2 innings against the Red Sox.

His last start against the Giants was quite good with just one run allowed in 5.2 innings. He struck out seven against just one walk but didn’t pick up the win as his bullpen first blew the lead before the Tigers came back to win.

Wentz has traditional pitching splits vs lefties and righties, so we’ll see which lefties make it into the lineup for the Orioles in this game.

Game 2: Sunday, 1:35 pm, MASN2

RHP Grayson Rodriguez (0-1, 6.91 ERA, 19 K) vs TBD

As of this writing, the Tigers have not announced their starter for the series’ final game. Two of their regular rotation members, LHP Matthew Boyd and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, will be on regular rest. They each started one game of the team’s doubleheader on Tuesday. It’s my assumption that the team will go with Rodriguez as their number-one starter, although he has already made four starts on the season.

After getting off to a touch of a rocky start to the season, Rodriguez’s last two starts have been very good. He’s coming off a fantastic start against the Guardians where he pitched eight shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks, good for a game score of 84.

Veteran Matthew Boyd has made three starts for the team and hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t gone beyond five innings in any of his starts. Per our friends over at Bless You Boys it’s not a good idea to let him into see the lineup a third time, which explains the short outings.

It does seem like Rodriguez will be the pick, but we can hope for Boyd. There is something fun(?) about the former Orioles prospect E. Rodriguez facing current Orioles hotshot rookie G. Rodriguez.


How many games will the Orioles win this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    3 (Sweep!)
    (97 votes)
  • 59%
    (167 votes)
  • 3%
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    0 (Swept)
    (4 votes)
279 votes total Vote Now