Times are tough for major league teams in the middle of the country. While the AL Central gets routinely dragged for its sad state of affairs, their counterpart on the senior circuit isn’t much better.
The Orioles’ opponent for a midweek trio of games are the 32-28 Milwaukee Brewers. That record is good enough for second place in the NL Central, just half a game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Brewers are rather fortunate to be so close to a playoff spot despite being outscored by 21 runs on the season, the second-worst run differential among teams with a winning record.
Runs have been hard to come by for the Milwaukee offense. The 241 runs they have scored are the fifth-fewest in MLB. It isn’t a long ball problem, though. They are tied for 10th with 70 homers, but they are in the bottom third of the league in on-base percentage (25th, .305) and slugging percentage (26th, .376). Beware of the runners that do get on as the Brewers have swiped 51 bags on the season, the sixth-most in MLB.
Christian Yelich is the name we all know. The outfielder is having a fine season, batting .249/.346/.383 with seven home runs and a team-best 14 stolen bases. But he no longer appears to be the player that will force his way into the MVP conversation.
Others to watch are Owen Miller (team-leading 125 wRC+), big man Rowdy Tellez (12 homers, .478 slugging), Brian Anderson (102 wRC+, 30 RBI), and Willy Adames (nine homers, 27 RBI).
Adames will be on the shelf to begin this series as he recovers from a concussion, but he could be back by game three. Luis Urías, younger brother of the Orioles’ Ramón, is healthy for the first time since Opening Day, when he strained his left hamstring, so we will certainly get some familial storylines to cherish there. But we will not see outfielder Jesse Winker (cervical strain), reliever Matt Bush (right shoulder), or starters Wade Miley (back strain) and Brandon Woodruff (right shoulder inflammation).
But if there is one player on the Brewers roster that the Orioles really don’t want to see it’s closer Devin Williams. He’s fantastic. The righty owns a minuscule 0.46 ERA and racks up nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings. It’s all thanks to the best changeup in the game, an offering that gets a 43.6% whiff rate. The pitch makes his 94 mph fastball play up and turn into a weapon in its own right.
Game 1: Tuesday, June 6th, 7:40 p.m., MASN
RHP Kyle Gibson (7-3, 3.89 ERA) vs. RHP Freddy Peralta (5-5, 4.62 ERA)
The only Orioles starter penciled in for this series is Gibson. May was a nice month for the veteran right-hander. He tossed 37.1 innings over six starts, struck out 20, issued 12 walks, and allowed just two home runs. At the very least he is dependable for five innings, and oftentimes offers even more.
Peralta has had issues with home runs recently, serving up six long balls across his last four starts. That has contributed to a ballooning of his season ERA from 3.32 at the beginning of that stretch to 4.62 entering this start. Despite adding nearly two ticks to his fastball this season, Peralta has actually seen his strikeout rate dip and his hard hit rate jump.
Game 2: Wednesday, June 7th, 7:40 p.m., MASN
TBD vs. RHP Corbin Burnes (4-4, 3.75 ERA)
This is the spot in the rotation that was left open when Grayson Rodriguez was demoted a couple of weeks ago. Brandon Hyde opted for a “bullpen game” last time through the rotation. That was a disaster, and it seems unlikely they go that direction again. Bruce Zimmermann could make a spot start, but asking him to face a lineup more than once seems risky.
Another option would be to start Dean Kremer. With the off day on Monday, he would actually be on normal rest and has been great since the start of May. If not Kremer, then Cole Irvin could be the pick. The lefty has not pitched for Norfolk since May 31 and seems to have fixed the walk issues that plagued him early on.
Burnes’ name came up a lot when theorizing potential trade partners for the Orioles over the winter. He came into the season as one of the league’s few bonafide aces, a strikeout machine that tossed 200 innings for the first time in his career in 2022. The results have not been as good this year with walks being a main culprit. The righty has seen his free pass rate increase from 2.27 per nine in 2022 to 3.62 in 2023.
Game 3: Thursday, June 8th, 2:10 p.m., MASN & MLB Network
TBD vs. RHP Colin Rea (3-3, 4.94 ERA)
Kyle Bradish follows Kremer in the rotation, so he joins the number of possibilities here. He would be on normal rest. But he also got knocked around in San Francisco (four innings, seven hits, three runs, one walk, five strikeouts), so there may be a benefit to giving him an extra day. Any of the options that don’t go in game two could also be in the mix here.
This is the first time Rea has been a regular part of a big league rotation since 2016, when he was a member of the San Diego Padres. He has had two stints with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks since then and now finds himself back in the big leagues at 32 years old. The Brewers have won his last four starts, but his individual numbers in that time aren’t great (20 innings, 21 hits, seven walks, 4.95 ERA).
How many games will the Orioles win in this series?
This poll is closed
0 (get swept)
3 (do the sweeping!)