Orioles at Nationals Series Preview

Sports and Bets — July 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm by

After taking two out of three from the hated Boston Red Sox, the Birds will head down I-95 South for a two-game series against the Washington Nationals. The O’s are now a season-high eight games over .500, and are in first place in the division by two games. The Birds have yet to face the Nationals this year, but were able to take three out of four from them last season, highlighted by a gem from Sweaty Freddy Garcia and a highly entertaining slugfest.

The Breakdown

Baltimore Orioles (48-40) at Washington Nationals (48-39)

Baltimore’s Last 10 Games: 7-3, Washington’s Last 10 Games: 7-3

Runs: Baltimore 8th, Washington 16th

Home Runs: Baltimore 2nd, Washington tied for 19th

Batting Average: Baltimore 3rd, Washington 19th

On-base Percentage: Baltimore tied for 12th, Washington tied for 17th

Team ERA: Baltimore 19th, Washington 1st

Starting Pitcher ERA: Baltimore 23rd, Washington 6th

Bullpen ERA: Baltimore 16th, Washington 3rd

Fewest Errors Made: Baltimore 6th, Washington tied for 17th

Game 1: Monday, July 7, 7:05 on MASN 2

Chris Tillman RHP (7-4) vs. Stephen Strasburg RHP (7-6)

Tillman’s Season Stats: 104 2/3 IP, 64 Ks, 4.21 ERA, 1.42 WHIP

Tillman’s Last Three Starts: 2-0, 20 2/3 IP, 6 Ks, 1.74 ERA, 1.16 WHIP

Strasburg’s Season Stats: 112 1/3 IP, 131 Ks, 3.53 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

Strasburg’s Last Three Starts: 1-1, 18 1/3 IP, 18 Ks, 5.89 ERA, 1.42 WHIP

Tillman was roughed up in his first start of July, surrendering four runs (three earned) on seven hits and four walks, over 5 2/3 innings against Texas. In June, he was somehow able to defy conventional wisdom and pitch to a 3.10 ERA, despite having a 1.38 WHIP and only striking out eight batters over 29 innings. I honestly have no idea what the hell to expect when Tillman toes the rubber on any given night. There seems to be little rhyme or reason if he’s going to get bombed, pitch lights out, or manage to get by on smoke and mirrors. Tillman will try to overcome his inconsistencies against a team that has peppered his sauce in the past. In two career starts against Washington, Tillman has a 6.52 ERA and 1.76 WHIP. Interleague play in general hasn’t been kind to Tillman, as he has a 6.95 ERA and 1.66 WHIP over nine career starts against the Senior Circuit.

Strasburg’s numbers over his last three starts don’t look too pretty, but he was excellent in his most recent outing. He earned the victory after pitching 7 2/3 innings of one run ball against Colorado. He allowed only five hits and a walk while striking out eight. Unfortunately for the Birds, they will be seeing Strasburg in Nationals Park and not Camden Yards. In 10 home starts this season, Strasburg has pitched to a 2.35 ERA, compared to a 5.13 ERA over eight road starts. For his career, Strasburg has a 2.52 home ERA and a 3.75 road ERA. In Strasburg’s only career start against the O’s, he earned the win after allowing three runs (one earned) over five innings. He gave up only four hits and a walk while striking out eight. Strasburg has been terrific during Interleague play over his 10 career starts, recording a 2.39 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while striking out 86 batters over 60 1/3 innings.

Good News: In 42 career games against the Nationals, Nick Markakis has slashed .316/.362/.433 with four home runs and 23 RBIs. In 34 career games against the Nationals, Adam Jones has batted .358/.382/.577 with seven home runs, 22 RBIs, and 23 runs scored.

Bad News: In 22 career games against the Orioles, Adam LaRoche has slashed .297/.398/.554 with six home runs, 13 RBIs, and 18 runs scored. As a team, the O’s have only hit .143/.217/.143 over 21 at-bats against Strasburg. The Nationals have batted .400/.471/.833 with three home runs over 30 at-bats against Tillman. Most notably, Denard Span is 4-for-10, and Ryan Zimmerman is 3-for-3 with three home runs off Tillman.

Game 2: Tuesday, July 8, 7:05 PM on MASN 2

Bud Norris RHP (7-5) vs. Doug Fister RHP (7-2)

Norris’ Season Stats: 87 IP, 60 Ks, 3.62 ERA, 1.16 WHIP

Norris’ Last Three Starts: 3-0, 19 2/3 IP, 15 Ks, .92 ERA, .98 WHIP

Fister’s Season Stats: 70 2/3 IP, 42 Ks, 2.93 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

Fister’s Last Three Starts: 2-0, 21 IP, 9 Ks, 2.57 ERA, .95 WHIP

This will be Norris’ first start since a trip to the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain. Before the injury, Norris was doing his best pitching of the season. In his four June starts, Norris was 4-0 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Norris has solid numbers against Washington from his days in the National League. He’s 2-0 in three career starts, with a 3.66 ERA and 1.47 WHIP against them. Norris hasn’t been sharp in Interleague play over his career, but he has been decent this year. In his two starts, he’s 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.42 WHIP.

Fister missed a little more than the first month of the season with a right lat strain, but it has been smooth sailing for the sinkerballer since his return. At the time, most baseball experts thought that the Nationals got the better of the Tigers in the trade that sent Fister to D.C. this past winter, but it looks more and more like an outright fleecing these days. Fister has only walked six batters this season, good for a miniscule .8 walks per nine innings. This would be the best BB/9 in the majors if Fister had thrown enough innings to qualify. On a positive note, the O’s have had success against Fister in the past. In six career starts against the Birds, Fister has a 5.30 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Fister has also struggled in his two career Interleague play starts, posting a 6.10 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.

Good News: Nelson Cruz is 8-for-24 with a home run, Markakis is 8-for-19 with a home run, Jones is 5-for-14, Delmon Young is 4-for-15 with a home run, and Chris Davis is 3-for-10 with a home run off Fister. Jayson Werth is 2-for-14, Danny Espinosa is 2-for-10, and Nate McLouth is 0-for-9 off Norris.

Bad News: J.J. Hardy is 4-for-22 off Fister. In 38 career games against the Nationals, Hardy has hit .206/.236/.369 with five home runs and 13 RBIs. In 40 career games against the Orioles, Zimmerman has slashed .327/.392/.560 with nine home runs, 21 RBIs, and 28 runs scored. Zimmerman is 4-for-11 with two home runs, Wilson Ramos is 3-for-9, and LaRoche is 2-for-5 off Norris.

On paper, this series presents some very tough matchups for the Birds. Obviously, I’d love to see them win both games, but I’d be quite content with a split against our beltway rivals. Enjoy the games everybody, and let’s go O’s!

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