Orioles at Royals Series Preview

Sports and Bets — August 24, 2015 at 5:35 pm by

The Birds finished their 10-game homestand with a 5-5 record after getting swept by the Twins in an unmitigated disaster of a four-game series. The O’s are now two games back of the Rangers for the second Wild Card, and they’re a half game back of the Angels and the Twins in the race for that final playoff spot. It’s been a rough few days of baseball to say the least, but the O’s can’t afford to throw a pity party now. They’re going to kick off a seven-game road trip with a four-game series against Kansas City. The Royals boast the AL’s best record, and we all unfortunately remember what happened the last time the Orioles took the field at Kauffman Stadium. Hopefully, all 25 players on the Royals’ roster ate some bad crab legs last night…

The Breakdown
Baltimore Orioles (62-61) at Kansas City Royals (75-48)
Last 10 Games: Baltimore’s 5-5, Kansas City’s 7-3
Runs: Baltimore’s tied for 7th, Kansas City’s 9th
Home Runs: Baltimore’s 4th, Kansas City’s 27th
Batting Average: Baltimore’s 9th, Kansas City’s 2nd
On-Base Percentage: Baltimore’s 20th, Kansas City’s 10th
Team ERA: Baltimore’s 13th, Kansas City’s 7th
Starter ERA: Baltimore’s 23rd, Kansas City’s 22nd
Bullpen ERA: Baltimore’s 5th, Kansas City’s 1st
Fewest Errors Made: Baltimore’s 1st, Kansas City’s tied for 11th

Baltimore’s Injury Report
P Chaz Roe: 15-day DL (right shoulder)
P Mike Wright: 15-day DL (left calf)
INF J.J. Hardy: 15-day DL (groin)

Kansas City’s Injury Report
P Tim Collins: 60-day DL (Tommy John surgery; out for season)
P Brian Flynn: 60-day DL (left lat)
P Jason Vargas: 15-day DL (Tommy John surgery; out for season)
OF Alex Gordon: 15-day DL (groin; currently on rehab assignment)

Monday, August 24 at 8:10 p.m. on MASN
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (9-7) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (1-0)
Jimenez’s 2015: 24 GS, 136 IP, 128 Ks, 3.97 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
Jimenez’s Last Three Starts: 1-0, 18 IP, 18 Ks, 3.50 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
Medlen’s 2015: 7 G, 14.1 IP, 14 Ks, 2.51 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

Jimenez struggled in his last start, taking a no-decision against the Mets after giving up three runs on five hits and four walks while striking out six over five innings. He’s now failed to pitch more than five innings in six of his last eight starts. Jimenez has been God awful in the second half, going 2-3 in seven starts with a 7.12 ERA and 1.50 WHIP while striking out 30 batters over 36.2 innings. It won’t be easy for Jimenez to get back to his first half form, as the Royals have given the righty trouble over the years. In 11 career starts against Kansas City, Jimenez is 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, and he’s struck out 53 batters over 62 innings. Last season, Jimenez went 0-2 in two starts against the Royals with a 7.36 ERA and 1.73 WHIP while striking out 10 batters over 11 innings.

Medlen is taking Jeremy Guthrie’s spot in the rotation, and this will be his first start since 2013. Getting hitters out has never been a problem for Medlen, but staying healthy has been, as the 29-year-old has had to undergo Tommy John surgery twice. In 159 career appearances (61 starts), Medlen is 35-20 with a 2.94 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, and he’s struck out 448 batters over 527 innings. Medlen throws in the low 90s with a curveball and a changeup. Over his career, Medlen’s changeup has been his best pitch, and he’s gone to his change 22.4% of the time. This will be Medlen’s first career start against the Birds, but he has faced them twice in relief appearances. He’s allowed four runs on seven hits and six walks while striking out three over six innings.

Good News: Gerardo Parra is 1-for-3, Nolan Reimold is 1-for-3, Adam Jones is 1-for-1, and Matt Wieters is 0-for-0 with a walk off Medlen. Alcides Escobar is 4-for-28, Mike Moustakas is 4-for-28, Alex Rios is 2-for-20, Salvador Perez is 3-for-19, Omar Infante is 3-for-18, and Drew Butera is 1-for-5 off Jimenez. In 21 games in August, Jonathan Schoop is hitting .342/.365/.494 with 2 HRs, 12 RBIs, and 8 runs scored.

Bad News: Steve Clevenger is 0-for-1, and Chris Davis is 0-for-1 off Medlen. Eric Hosmer is 9-for-26 with 2 HRs, Kendrys Morales is 4-for-16 with 2 HRs, Lorenzo Cain is 6-for-14 with a HR, Jarrod Dyson is 3-for-9, and Ben Zobrist is 2-for-8 off Jimenez. Including the playoffs last season, the O’s went 3-8 against the Royals.

Tuesday, August 25 at 8:10 p.m. on MASN 2
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (9-9) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (6-6)
Gonzalez’s 2015: 23 GS, 131.1 IP, 102 Ks, 4.73 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
Gonzalez’s Last Three Starts: 0-1, 16.2 IP, 16 Ks, 7.56 ERA, 1.68 WHIP
Duffy’s 2015: 19 GS, 103.1 IP, 61 Ks, 4.18 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
Duffy’s Last Three Starts: 1-1, 14.1 IP, 7 Ks, 5.02 ERA, 1.33 WHIP

Gonzalez was shelled in his last start, taking the loss against the Twins after giving up seven runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out five over five innings. Sadly, these types of performances have been way too typical for Gonzo lately. In his 11 starts since coming off the DL, Gonzalez has posted a 6.48 ERA (Kubatko). In three career starts against Kansas City, Gonzalez is 1-2 with a 4.82 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, and he’s struck out nine batters over 18.2 innings. The last time Gonzalez faced the Royals was Game 4 of the 2014 ALCS. He took the series-clinching loss after surrendering two runs (one earned) on four hits and four walks while striking out four over 5.2 innings.

Last season, Duffy went 9-12 in 31 appearances (25 starts) with a 2.53 ERA and 1.11 WHIP while striking out 113 batters over 149.1 innings. As Duffy’s 2015 numbers show, the 26-year-old southpaw has had a hard time following up on his breakout campaign. A big reason for his struggles has been that he’s not generating as many fly balls. Last season, opponents were hitting fly balls 46.0% of the time off Duffy, but this season, he’s generating fly balls a career-low 35.8% of the time. Duffy’s mid 90s fastball is his best pitch, and he compliments his heater with a curveball, a changeup, and a rarely used slider. In three career appearances (two starts) against the O’s, Duffy is 1-1 with a 1.46 ERA and 0.81 WHIP, and he’s struck out eight batters over 12.1 innings.

Good News: Wieters is 1-for-3 off Duffy. Zobrist is 5-for-27 with a HR, Hosmer is 2-for-11, Moustakas is 0-for-10, Morales is 0-for-9, Infante is 2-for-8, and Cain is 0-for-2 off Gonzalez. Since being acquired by the Birds, Parra is batting .278/.323/.489 with 5 HRs, 10 RBIs, 18 runs scored, and a steal in 21 games.

Bad News: Jones is 1-for-6, Davis is 0-for-3, Manny Machado is 0-for-3, Caleb Joseph is 0-for-2, Reimold is 0-for-2, and Schoop is 0-for-2 off Duffy. Perez is 4-for-12 with a HR, Escobar is 3-for-10, and Dyson is 5-for-6 off Gonzalez. The Birds are 25-36 on the road, while the Royals are 42-20 at home.

Wednesday, August 26 at 8:10 p.m. on MASN 2
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (7-6) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (9-8)
Chen’s 2015: 24 GS, 149.1 IP, 121 Ks, 3.13 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
Chen’s Last Three Starts: 2-0, 19.1 IP, 15 Ks, 1.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
Cueto’s 2015: 24 GS, 166.2 IP, 144 Ks, 2.70 ERA, 0.98 WHIP
Cueto’s Last Three Starts: 2-1, 23 IP, 15 Ks, 2.74 ERA, 1.09 WHIP

Chen was sharp in his last start, taking a no-decision against the Twins after allowing one run on seven hits and two walks while striking out three over six innings. Chen has now recorded quality starts in three straight outings, and he’s been by far the Birds’ most consistent starting pitcher this season. Chen will have to conquer a tough matchup on paper if he’s going to make it four straight quality starts. In six career starts against the Royals, Chen is 1-1 with a 4.17 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, and he’s struck out 22 batters over 36.2 innings. Chen’s last start against Kansas City came in Game 3 of the 2014 ALCS, and he took the loss after giving up two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four over 5.1 innings.

The Royals acquired Cueto from the Reds at the trade deadline, and they have to be pleased with their early returns. In five starts with Kansas City, Cueto is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, and he’s struck out 24 batters over 36 innings. Cueto was pummeled in his last start, though, taking the loss against Boston after giving up seven runs (six earned) on a career-high 13 hits and no walks while striking out three over six innings (Orioles/MLB). The 29-year-old righty’s best pitch is his low 90s fastball, and he’s been throwing it 50.7% of the time this season. He also mixes in a cutter, a changeup, and a rarely used curveball. The 2014 All-Star and runner up in the Cy Young voting will be making his first career start against the Birds. Even though it might result in the O’s getting their bats shoved up their asses, I’m really looking forward to watching this dude pitch. Pizzazz for days, babes.

Good News: Parra is 7-for-23 with 2 HRs, and Jimmy Paredes is 2-for-3 off Cueto. Perez is 2-for-15, Moustakas is 2-for-8, and Dyson is 0-for-1 off Chen.

Bad News: Clevenger is 0-for-2 off Cueto. Zobrist is 13-for-35 with a HR, Escobar is 6-for-20, Hosmer is 9-for-20 with 2 HRs, Cain is 6-for-15, Morales is 3-for-9, Rios is 3-for-9, and Infante is 2-for-8 with a HR off Chen. The O’s are 17-22 in one-run games, while the Royals are 20-11.

Thursday, August 27 at 2:10 p.m. on MASN & MLBN
RHP Chris Tillman (9-8) vs. RHP Yordano Ventura (8-7)
Tillman’s 2015: 23 GS, 129.2 IP, 91 Ks, 4.51 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
Tillman’s Last Three Starts: 1-1, 16 IP, 11 Ks, 5.63 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Ventura’s 2015: 20 GS, 114.1 IP, 96 Ks, 4.64 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
Ventura’s Last Three Starts: 2-0, 19 IP, 21 Ks, 1.42 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

Tillman pitched pretty well in his last start, but he was still saddled with the loss against the Twins. He surrendered three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six over 6.2 innings. It was the first time Tillman was charged with a loss since May 31, which covered a span of 12 straight starts where he earned a win or received a no-decision. Tilly will have to bring his A-game if he wants to get a new streak going. In five career starts against Kansas City, Tillman is 2-2 with a 6.21 ERA and 1.41 WHIP, and he’s struck out 15 batters over 29 innings. Tillman saw the Royals twice last year, and the results were polar opposites. In his first start, Tillman earned the win after throwing his first career shutout. He allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three. In his second start, Tillman was knocked around in Game 1 of the ALCS. He took a no-decision after giving up five runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three over 4.1 innings.

Like his rotation mate Duffy, Ventura has had difficulty following up on an excellent 2014 season. Last season, Ventura went 14-10 in 31 games (30 starts) with a 3.20 ERA and 1.30 WHIP while striking out 159 batters over 183 innings. Ventura has found the sledding much tougher this year, but he has thrown the ball better over the last month. He’s gone 3-0 in five August starts with a 4.06 ERA and 1.29 WHIP while striking out 26 batters over 31 innings. Ventura’s best pitch is his mid to high 90s fastball, and he’s been throwing it 58.5% of the time this season. He also mixes in a curveball, a changeup, and a cutter. The 24-year-old, flame-throwing dickhead has pitched well against the Birds over his young career. In two starts against them, he’s 1-1 with a 1.26 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, and he’s struck out 17 batters over 14.1 innings. The last time Ventura faced the O’s was in Game 2 of the ALCS. He took a no-decision after allowing four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three over 5.2 innings.

Good News: Jones is 2-for-10 with a HR, Wieters is 2-for-4, Machado is 1-for-3, and Joseph is 1-for-1 off Ventura. Zobrist is 6-for-37 with 3 HRs, Hosmer is 1-for-11, Perez is 1-for-8 with a HR, and Dyson is 1-for-5 off Tillman.

Bad News: Ryan Flaherty is 2-for-8, Schoop is 0-for-5, Davis is 0-for-4, and Clevenger is 0-for-3 off Ventura. Escobar is 5-for-14 with a HR, Rios is 3-for-13 with a HR, Moustakas is 3-for-10 with a HR, Morales is 5-for-9, Cain is 3-for-7, Butera is 1-for-3, and Infante is 1-for-3 off Tillman. In 35 career games against the Birds, Morales is batting .359/.394/.542 with 5 HRs, 32 RBIs, and 12 runs scored. He’s also tied for 5th in the MLB in RBIs this season.

Enjoy the games, and let’s go O’s!

stats: Baseball-Reference
cover pic: Beaumont Enterprise

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