The Orioles are riding high, fresh off a series sweep in Toronto. Based on strength of schedule, the month of May was supposed to be terrible, featuring only one losing team, the Royals. But in fact the Orioles are 12-7 (.632) over that stretch, and their May ERA is 3.77, 10th in baseball.
It would be great to sustain that confidence and momentum during this upcoming series in New York. Since Brandon Hyde took over as manager in 2019, the Yankees have been a tough nut to crack: the Orioles have a 5-22 series record against them in that span, including one series this year that Baltimore lost, 1-2 (the Braves are the only other team against whom the O’s have a losing record this season).
A few things have changed since last the Orioles and Yankees met on April 7-9. Back then, one of the starting matchups was Cole Irvin vs. Jhony Brito. Giancarlo Stanton had five hits in the series. Aaron Hicks started one game in left field. José Treviño scored a run. And Franchy Cordero hit a game-winning bomb. We won’t see any of those players in those roles this series because Irvin is in the O’s bullpen now and Stanton/Treviño are on the IL, while Hicks/Cordero/Brito are off the active roster.
What’s going well for the Yankees is, well, pitching and hitting. They have a 3.52 ERA in May and a .798 OPS, a huge improvement over their .677 mark in an injury-ridden April. Aaron Judge, after missing time, is still Aaron Judge: he’s slashing .299/.400/.652 with 13 home runs in 38 games. Anthony Rizzo is also hitting everything: he’s batting .302 with 11 home runs and a .907 OPS. Center fielder Harrison Bader has been delivering at the plate, too, with an .832 OPS.
Game 1: Tuesday, 7:05pm ET, MASN
Kyle Bradish (2-1, 3.90 ERA) v. Gerrit Cole (5-0, 2.01 ERA)
Kyle Bradish pitched a gem last week, with just one earned run across 6.2 innings, striking out five and walking none as the Orioles topped the Angels, 3-1. Actually the 25-year-old Bradish hasn’t had a bad outing since April, with a 2.04 ERA and 0.849 WHIP in the month of May. His 2.90 K/BB ratio is also encouraging.
The Orioles couldn’t avoid him forever: Gerrit Cole is shoving. He’s 5-0 with a 2.01 ERA and his WHIP is 1.085. In 62.2 innings he’s struck out 68 batters. I guess the good news, if any, is that his walks are up slightly and his strikeouts are actually down: from 2018-22 he averaged 12.4 K’s per nine innings and this year it’s 9.8. Alright, let’s get him.
Game 2: Wednesday, 7:05pm ET, MASN
Tyler Wells (3-1, 2.94 ERA) v. Nestor Cortes (4-2, 5.21 ERA)
Last time out, Tyler Wells pitched solidly against the Los Angeles Angels, allowing three runs on six hits with seven strikeouts in a no-decision. He’s been this rotation’s most consistent starter despite being somewhat homer-run prone (1.7 HR/9). However, and this is a big deal for an Orioles starter, his 0.788 WHIP leads all pitchers in the major leagues. I hope he can keep it up.
Last season Cortes absolutely dominated the Orioles, putting up 31 Ks in 18.1 IP while not allowing a single run, but Nasty Nestor hasn’t been quite as Nasty in 2023. Batters are averaging 70 points better against him and he’s allowing a lot more home runs. A .305 BABIP suggest he’s been getting unlucky, but then again, good teams like Tampa Bay and Texas have pounded him, for six and seven runs a pop in the last month.
Game 3: Thursday, 7:05pm, MASN
Kyle Gibson (5-3, 4.27 ERA) v. Clarke Schmidt (2-4, 6.00 ERA)
Kyle Gibson has been up and down over his last four starts, but he cruised through his last outing in Toronto, allowing just one earned run on five hits and two walks while striking out five over seven innings. One thing he’s doing well is limiting walks and home runs.
Schmidt, primarily a reliever in ’22, is still working out the kinks of this starter thing. Despite his high ERA (6.00) and WHIP (1.62), he’s been good at striking out hitters. His last outing he allowed two earned runs to the Reds while striking out six. Incidentally, during that start, umpires found a substance on Schmidt’s wrist that was “just a little tacky,” and ordered him to wash it off, but decided not to eject him like his teammate Domingo Germán a couple of days before that.
Lots of sticky stuff going around pitchers’ wrists in New York these days... so much so that Fangraphs’ Davy Andrews wrote a poem about it:
I checked his pitching hand;
It was slightly sticky,
A little tacky.
And it was dark in color–
Which really isn’t a surprise.
When I looked at it
And looked at him
He said, “No, it’s just rosin.
I’m going to wash it off.”
I said, “Okay–
You got to wash that off.”
It’s never easy in this stacked AL East, but can the Orioles finally break the Yankee schneid?
How many games will the Orioles win in this road series against the Yankees?
3 (sweep ‘em!)
0 (boo, get swept)