Coming off a series win in Texas, the Orioles return to Camden Yards for the first home series of 2023. Meeting them in Baltimore is the O’s rivals from the Bronx. Home openers haven’t exactly been a welcome sight under Brandon Hyde, however. In four seasons with Hyde as manager, the O’s are 1-3 in the first home game and 0-4 in the first home series of each season.
However, the series against the Rangers showed that this year’s Orioles don’t simply bow down because it’s expected of them. After all, Texas was averaging almost nine runs per game after their first series against the Phillies, while the Baltimore pitching staff struggled mightily in Boston. Instead of getting steamrolled in the Lone Star State, though, the O’s limited the Rangers to seven runs combined over the three games and won two out of three.
The Orioles will need that confidence (and consistency from the pitching staff) if they are to win the series against New York, The Yankees have been the biggest thorn in Hyde’s side during his time as manager. Of the 21 series between the O’s and Yanks since 2019, the Orioles have only won the series five times.
All that being said, there’s plenty of reason for Birdland to have hope heading into the home opener. Baltimore boasts one of the most robust offenses in baseball through the first week of the season. The Yankees’ overwhelmingly right-handed lineup is primed to be the first to suffer in the Great Wall of Baltimore’s second season. Plus, there’s no way Aaron Judge puts up a 1.514 OPS at Camden Yards again, right?
Game 1: Friday, 3:05pm ET, MASN
Probable Pitchers: Dean Kremer (2022 season: 3.23 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 87 Ks in 125.1 IP)
Clarke Schmidt: (2022 season: 3.12 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 56 Ks in 57.2 IP)
The home opener was originally scheduled for Thursday, but moved to Friday due to thunderstorms in the forecast. Hopefully, the Friday afternoon start makes for an even more raucous atmosphere in Baltimore for Camden Yards Opening Day. Hopefully it also gives Dean Kremer the time he needs to formulate a winning plan against New York.
Kremer was less than inspiring in his first start of the season, lasting only three innings at Fenway last Saturday. Home runs were a big problem for Kremer when he struggled in 2021, but something he largely corrected last season. However, after allowing two HRs in three innings against Boston, Kremer looked more like the pitcher who gave up 2.9 HRs per 9 innings in 2021, rather than the one who allowed only 0.8 HR/9 in 2022.
Kremer’s career numbers against the Yankees are better than his numbers against the Red Sox, but only just. His 5.34 ERA in six starts against New York is certainly higher than Orioles fans would like. Kremer was a much better pitcher in Baltimore last year, though, with a 2.84 ERA in Camden Yards, limiting opponents to a .239 average. Kremer will get his first chance this season to test that home form against the potent Yankees offense.
Schmidt is transitioning from a primary reliever in ‘22 to a member of the Yankees rotation in ‘23. His first start of the season was rocky like Kremer’s, as Schmidt gave up two HRs and three runs over 3.1 innings vs. San Francisco. The righty had a good record against Baltimore last season, posting a 0.00 ERA over 7.1 innings vs. the O’s. There were some control issues for Schmidt, though, as he allowed six walks over those four appearances.
Game 2: Saturday, 7:05pm ET, MASN
Probable Pitchers: Cole Irvin (2022 season: 3.98 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 128 Ks in 181.0 IP)
Nester Cortes (2022 season: 2.44 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 163 Ks in 158.1 IP
Irvin’s Orioles debut didn’t exactly go as planned, as he joined in on the pitching struggles in Boston. After giving up six runs and eight hits and only lasting four innings against Boston, Irvin will look to make a better impression in his Camden Yards debut. Irvin’s only other career start in Camden Yards came back with the A’s in 2021. In perhaps a positive sign for Birdland, Irvin was particularly dominant that day, striking out 6 over 5.1 innings while only allowing one run. If he can repeat that effort against the Yankees, no one will even remember what Irvin did in Boston.
While the Orioles will avoid facing Gerrit Cole (or the injured Carlos Rodón), Cortes is not exactly a nice consolation prize. The Orioles’ former Rule 5 draft pick dominated his former club in three starts last season. The lefty known as Nasty Nestor was particularly nasty against the Orioles, putting up 31 Ks in 18.1 innings while not allowing a single run. His only start in Camden Yards was his best start of the season, as he K’d 12 Orioles over 7.1 innings while giving up only one hit. The good news (similar to the logic with Judge) is there’s seemingly no way Cortes is as good or better against the O’s this season.
Cortes was relatively successful in his first start against the Phillies, allowing only one run over five innings. With two southpaws on the mound and the Wall making it tough for right-handed hitters, this one sets up as a potentially low-scoring affair.
Game 3: Sunday, 1:35pm, MASN
Probable Pitchers: Tyler Wells (2022 season: 4.25 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 76 Ks in 103.2 IP)
Domingo German (3.61 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 58 Ks in 72.1 IP)
Tyler Wells put forth the best pitching performance of the season during his relief appearance in Texas. Asked to take over in the fourth after starter Kyle Bradish left the game injured, Wells completely silenced the Rangers' bats. The third-year right-hander delivered five innings of no-hit baseball on only 47 pitches. There’s some thought that Hyde could start Kyle Gibson Sunday on regular rest after the off day Thursday. However, expect the O’s to want to see if Wells can build off his dominance in Arlington by giving him the start Sunday.
Despite being limited by an innings count and injuries in 2022, Wells made four starts against the Yankees last season. His early season start vs. New York in Camden Yards showed signs of promise—four innings, only three hits allowed, no runs and the Ks. When the Yankees came back to Baltimore in July, things did not go quite as smoothly for Wells. After allowing five runs over five innings—while giving up two HRs—in that start, Wells will certainly look to bounce back this weekend. Overall, last year against the Yankees, Wells sported a 4.36 ERA while striking out 13 over 19 innings. The Orioles will likely need him to be a little better than those numbers if they want to end the series on a high note.
After missing the first half of the 2022 season with a shoulder injury, German was a solid option in the Yankees rotation over the last two months of the year. In his only start against the Orioles in 2022, he did take the L, giving up two runs over 5.1 innings while striking out six. If the O’s are going to find success against German, they need to be prepared to hit his curveball. The veteran righty throws his breaking ball on greater than one-third of his pitches and will throw it in all counts. This means Sunday may set up for some Ryan Mountcastle heroics, as the first baseman led the team with a .365 average on curves last season.
The subplot to follow throughout this series will be the first head-to-head matchup of Gunnar Henderson and Anthony Volpe. While neither has gotten off to particularly strong starts through two series, the rookie infielders remain the favorites for AL Rookie of the Year. Gunnar can look to set the tone early with a big series vs. New York.
The Orioles will also try and take their first steps toward a winning season against New York. The Yankees have won the season series with Baltimore every year since 2017. With only 14 games on the schedule this year (as opposed to the 19 in years past), a series win to start off the year could go a long way in the Orioles' quest to break that streak.
How many games will the Orioles win in their first home series vs. the Yankees?
This poll is closed
3 (sweep them out of Baltimore)
0 (dash all our early hopes)