The Orioles escaped Seattle with a series win after one of the more wild endings of the season. Cedric Mullins led the Birds to a 5-3 victory yesterday, and Baltimore will now look to bank wins against one of the more desperate teams in baseball.
The Padres doubled down at the trade deadline by acquiring five players from three different teams. Sure, Rich Hill and Ji-Man Choi may not move the needle, but the Padres also kept their embarrassment of stars intact. The Orioles will not face Hill in the series, but they will face free-agent-to-be Blake Snell.
San Diego’s roster features a plethora of big names. Xander Bogaerts, Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., and our old pal Manny Machado all jump off the page. The Padres will send out three incredibly impressive pitchers in Yu Darvish, Michael Wacha and Blake Snell.
The names are enough to give any O’s fan the heebie jeebies, but stars have not translated to success this season. The Padres enter the series 56-62. They’re 3-7 in their last 10 and sit 5.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot. Desperate teams can be dangerous, and San Diego is truly looking to save its season.
The Orioles would love to see Cedric Mullins get going at the plate after the game-winning blast.
The Orioles will arrive in San Diego with a three-game lead in the American League East. The Rays will also make their way to California for a three-game set against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants resemble the more difficult opponent on paper, so Baltimore could pad its lead with a successful trip.
Game 1: Monday, 9:40 pm ET, MASN
Starters: RHP Grayson Rodrigues (2-3, 5.84 ERA) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (8-7, 4.19 ERA)
Grayson Rodriguez looks like a different guy since returning in July. He holds a 3.45 ERA, 1.081 WHIP, and 2.40 K/BB ratio in his last five starts. Rodriguez limited Houston to two runs over six innings during his last start.
The Orioles crave length from their starters. Baltimore would love to provide Félix Bautista an extra day of rest after he tossed two innings on Saturday. The O’s used five relievers yesterday, but none of the pitchers recorded more than three outs.
San Diego will hand the ball to Yu Darvish. Darvish may not carry the same reputation that he held earlier in his career, but the five-time All Star can still pitch. He’s 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA over six starts in the second half.
Game 2: Tuesday, 9:40 pm ET, MASN 2
Starters: RHP Jack Flaherty (8-7, 4.33 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (8-2, 2.84 ERA)
The Padres refused to make Snell available in July, but the Orioles acquired Jack Flaherty. Flaherty bumped his velocity up a tick after arriving in Baltimore. He tossed six innings of one-run ball during his first start for the Orioles, but he allowed three runs in only five innings his last time out. Flaherty has the stuff to bolster the rotation down the stuff, but the 27-year-old still needs to lock up a spot in the postseason rotation.
Michael Wacha has not pitched in the big leagues since July 1. The righty missed over a month with a shoulder injury, but the Padres need him now more than ever. It remains to be seen how long Wacha will pitch in his return. San Diego’s bullpen ranks in the middle of the pack with a 3.98 ERA.
Game 3: Wednesday, 8:40 pm ET MASN 2
Starters: RHP Dean Kremer (11-4, 4.50 ERA) vs. LHP Blake Snell (9-8, 2.63 ERA)
The Padres kept Snell for games like this. The Friars have the best team in the American League on their grass and need to make a statement. San Diego’s last playoff hopes could rest on Snell’s arm depending on how the first two games of this series shake out.
Flaherty would need to really struggle to lose his spot in the rotation, but Kremer could slot a little closer to the cut line. His 11-4 record is great, but the Orioles will not use win/loss totals to evaluate starting pitching in 2023. Kremer has been a little Jekyll/Hyde this year, but more outings like his last will certainly help his cause. Kremer limited Houston to a pair of solo homers over seven innings last week.
Look for the hot-hitting James McCann to get a start with Snell on the mound. He’s 3-for-13 with a homer and two walks against the former Cy Young winner, but the backstop has been red hot at the plate for Baltimore.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Padres?
This poll is closed
Three (Orioles sweep)
None (Orioles get swept)