Orioles vs. Nationals Series Preview

Sports and Bets — July 10, 2015 at 6:42 pm by

The Birds will end the first half of the season with a big three-game series against the banged up Nationals. Not only is it always nice to beat the Nats for regional bragging rights, but the O’s could really use some momentum heading into the break. A series win would ensure that they would enter the unofficial midpoint of the season with a record over .500, and it would also most likely keep them in 2nd place in the crowded AL East. Speaking of the All-Star break, this video of Orioles highlights from past ASGs makes me want to run through a goddamn orange and black brick wall.

The Breakdown
Baltimore Orioles (43-42) vs. Washington Nationals (46-38)
Last 10 Games: Baltimore’s 2-8, Washington’s 5-5
Runs: Baltimore’s 7th, Washington’s tied for 12th
Home Runs: Baltimore’s 5th, Washington’s 11th
Batting Average: Baltimore’s 10th, Washington’s 13th
On-Base Percentage: Baltimore’s 20th, Washington’s 11th
Team ERA: Baltimore’s 12th, Washington’s 9th
Starter ERA: Baltimore’s 19th, Washington’s 8th
Bullpen ERA: Baltimore’s 6th, Washington’s 11th
Fewest Errors Made: Baltimore’s tied for 2nd, Washington’s 22nd

Baltimore’s Injury Report
P Jason Garcia: 60-day DL (right shoulder)
P Wesley Wright: 60-day DL (left shoulder; currently on rehab assignment)

Washington’s Injury Report
P Craig Stammen: 60-day DL (right elbow; out for season)
P Stephen Strasburg: 15-day DL (left oblique)
INF Anthony Rendon: 15-day DL (left quad)
INF Ryan Zimmerman: 15-day DL (left foot)
OF Reed Johnson: 60-day DL (left foot)
OF Nate McLouth: 60-day DL (right shoulder)
OF Denard Span: 15-day DL (back)
OF Jayson Werth: 15-day DL (left wrist)

Friday, July 10 at 7:05 p.m. on MASN & MLBN
RHP Chris Tillman (6-7) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4)
Tillman’s 2015: 16 GS, 84 IP, 60 Ks, 5.57 ERA, 1.56 WHIP
Tillman’s Last Three Starts: 1-0, 13 IP, 11 Ks, 5.54 ERA, 1.62 WHIP
Gonzalez’s 2015: 15 GS, 88.2 IP, 78 Ks, 4.16 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
Gonzalez’s Last Three Starts: 2-1, 17.1 IP, 11 Ks, 3.12 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

It’s pretty much been one step forward and two steps back for Tillman all season long. Two starts ago, he picked up the win after pitching seven scoreless innings against the Indians. In his last start, he took a no-decision after giving up two runs to the White Sox on 10 hits and a walk while striking out four over 4.2 innings. Tillman hasn’t posted back-to-back quality starts all season long, which is almost unfathomable for such a talented pitcher. In three career starts against the Nats, Tillman is 0-0 with a 4.86 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, and he’s struck out 14 batters over 16.2 innings. Tillman’s most recent start against Washington came last season, and he took a no-decision after holding them to two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings.

The Birds have to be happy that Gonzalez is making this start at Camden Yards, as the southpaw has struggled mightily on the road this season. In seven home starts, Gonzalez is 4-1 with a 2.44 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, and he’s struck out 36 batters over 44.1 innings. In eight road starts, Gonzalez is 2-3 with a 5.89 ERA and 1.67 WHIP, and he’s struck out 42 batters over 44.1 innings. While Gonzalez’s current 4.16 ERA would be by far his highest since 2009, the 29-year-old has started to right the ship. He’s given up just one run over his last 14 innings, and he’s recorded quality starts in four of his last five outings. Gonzalez can be prone to wildness (3.3 BB/9), but he’s excellent at keeping the ball in the park (0.4 HR/9). He’s been generating ground balls at a career-high rate of 56.5% this season with his low 90s fastball, changeup, and curveball. In seven career starts against the O’s, Gonzalez is 1-4 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, and he’s struck out 35 batters over 42.2 innings. Last season, Gonzalez took the loss in his lone start against the Birds. He allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks while striking out seven over 6.2 innings.

Good News: Last season, the O’s went 3-1 against the Nats while outscoring them 21-14. Matt Wieters is 8-for-14 with a HR, Steve Pearce is 4-for-9 with a HR, Manny Machado is 2-for-5, and Caleb Joseph is 1-for-3 off Gonzalez. Yunel Escobar is 3-for-16, Ian Desmond is 2-for-8, Bryce Harper is 0-for-3, Jose Lobaton is 0-for-2, and Tyler Moore is 0-for-2 off Tillman.

Bad News: Adam Jones is 5-for-22, J.J. Hardy is 3-for-13, Chris Davis is 1-for-9, Nolan Reimold is 1-for-9, Travis Snider is 1-for-5, and Jonathan Schoop is 0-for-3 off Gonzalez. Wilson Ramos is 2-for-5, and Danny Espinosa is 1-for-3 off Tillman.

Saturday, July 11 at 7:15 p.m. on FOX
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (7-5) vs. RHP Doug Fister (3-4)
Gonzalez’s 2015: 15 GS, 88.1 IP, 67 Ks, 3.87 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Gonzalez’s Last Three Starts: 2-1, 15.1 IP, 8 Ks, 6.46 ERA, 1.57 WHIP
Fister’s 2015: 11 GS, 64 IP, 31 IP, 4.08 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
Fister’s Last Three Starts: 1-1, 19 IP, 10 Ks, 2.37 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

Gonzalez was knocked around in his first two starts after coming off the DL, giving up 10 runs over 9.1 innings, so it was nice to see him return to form in his last outing. Gonzo earned the win against the White Sox after holding them to one run on four hits and a walk while striking out three over six innings. Surprisingly, this will be Gonzalez’s first start against that inferior team from down I-95. In six career Interleague play starts, Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 3.29 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, and he’s struck out 31 batters over 38.1 innings.

Fister hasn’t been nearly as effective this season as he has been in the past, and it’s not hard to see why. Currently, Fister is generating ground balls at a career-low rate of 40.7%, he’s striking out a career-low 4.4 batters per nine innings, and he’s giving up line drives at a career-high rate of 24.4%. Despite Fister only hitting the mid 80s on the radar gun, his sinking, two-seam fastball is his best pitch, and he’s been throwing it 62.5% of the time this season. The 31-year-old also mixes in a changeup, a slider, and a curveball. In seven career starts against the O’s, Fister is 4-2 with a 4.85 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, and he’s struck out 38 batters over 42.2 innings. Last season, Fister picked up the win in his only start against the Birds. He held them to two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three over seven innings.

Good News: Jones is 6-for-17, Davis is 5-for-13 with 2 HRs, Wieters is 4-for-12, Lough is 3-for-11, Parmelee is 4-for-11, Machado is 3-for-5 with a HR, and Joseph is 1-for-3 off Fister. Escobar is 4-for-19, and Lobaton is 1-for-4 off Gonzalez. In 10 career games against the O’s, Harper is batting .194/.326/.278 with 0 HRs, 2 RBIs, and 4 runs scored.

Bad News: Hardy is 4-for-25, Snider is 3-for-16, Reimold is 2-for-8, Pearce is 0-for-3, Schoop is 0-for-3, and Paredes is 0-for-2 off Fister. Harper is leading all of baseball with a 6.1 WAR this season. He’s hitting a ridiculous .343/.471/.709 with 25 RBIs, 60 RBIs, and 58 runs scored.

Sunday, July 12 at 1:35 p.m. on MASN & WJZ
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (4-4) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (9-7)
Chen’s 2015: 16 GS, 102 IP, 83 Ks, 2.82 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Chen’s Last Three Starts: 1-0, 21 IP, 12 Ks, 2.57 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Scherzer’s 2015: 17 GS, 123.1 IP, 143 Ks, 2.12 ERA, 0.80 WHIP
Scherzer’s Last Three Starts: 1-2, 21 IP, 20 Ks, 3.86 ERA, 0.81 WHIP

Chen has been absolutely dealing lately. Since the calendar turned to June, Chen has gone 3-0 with a 2.23 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while striking out 35 batters over 40.1 innings. In his last start, he took a no-decision after holding the Twins to two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out five over seven innings. In three career starts against the Nationals, Chen is 1-2 with a 6.60 ERA and 1.80 WHIP, and he’s struck out 15 batters over 15 innings. Last season, Chen picked up the win in his lone start against the Nats. He allowed three runs on eight hits and no walks while striking out six over 5.2 innings.

Max Scherzer and his weird fucking eyes have been dominating the competition in his first season in the NL. Across all of baseball, he’s 4th in ERA, 1st in WHIP, 3rd in WAR, tied for 5th in innings pitched, tied for 7th in wins, 5th in strikeouts, and 1st in strikeout to walk ratio. On a positive note for the O’s, the 2013 AL Cy Young winner is coming off his worst start of the season. He took the loss against the Reds after surrendering five runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out four over 4.2 innings. Scherzer is a fly ball pitcher, who’s been able to generate fly balls at a career-best rate of 48.5% in 2015. Despite throwing in the mid 90s, Scherzer has only been throwing his fastball 58.0% of the time this season. The 30-year-old consistently mixes in a slider, a changeup, and a curveball to go along with his heater. In six career starts against the Birds, Scherzer is 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, and he’s struck out 45 batters over 39 innings. Last season, Scherzer faced the O’s once, and I think we all remember how that one turned out. In Game 1 of the ALDS, Scherzer took the loss after giving up five runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out six over 7.1 innings.

Good News: The Birds are 26-16 at home this season, and the Nats are 21-22 on the road. Jones is 9-for-21 with a HR, Davis is 7-for-17 with a HR, Parmelee is 5-for-17, Wieters is 6-for-17, Pearce is 2-for-6, Paredes is 1-for-3, Schoop is 1-for-3, and Snider is 1-for-3 off Scherzer. Escobar is 3-for-19 with a HR, Desmond is 2-for-8, Harper is 2-for-8, Espinosa is 1-for-6, Moore is 1-for-4, and Dan Uggla is 0-for-3 off Chen.

Bad News: Hardy is 5-for-26 with 2 HRs, Ryan Flaherty is 0-for-7, Lough is 1-for-7, Machado is 0-for-7, and Reimold is 0-for-1 off Scherzer. Lobaton is 3-for-8, and Ramos is 1-for-2 off Chen.

Enjoy the games, and let’s go O’s!

cover pic: LockerReport
stats: Baseball-Reference

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