Orioles vs. White Sox Series Preview

Featured, Sports and Bets — June 23, 2014 at 6:39 pm by

The Birds will return home to face the White Sox after a successful 4-2 road trip. Over those six games, the O’s averaged five runs per game, while only allowing 2.67 runs per game. That’s a damn strong formula for winning baseball games. Next on the docket for the Birds is a juicy 11-game home stand against the White Sox, Rays, and Rangers. The combined record of these teams is 101-127, with none of the teams playing .500 baseball. This is a golden opportunity for the Birds to leapfrog the scuffling – 3-7 over their last 10 games – Blue Jays in the AL East standings. Time for the O’s to go to work.

The Breakdown

Chicago White Sox (35-41) at Baltimore Orioles (39-35)

Season Series: 0-0

Chicago’s Last 10 Games: 2-8, Baltimore’s Last 10 Games: 6-4

Runs: Chicago 7th, Baltimore 15th

Home Runs: Chicago 10th, Baltimore 4th

Batting Average: Chicago tied for 11th, Baltimore tied for 3rd

On-base Percentage: Chicago 17th, Baltimore 18th

Team ERA: Chicago 27th, Baltimore 20th

Starting Pitcher ERA: Chicago 29th, Baltimore 23rd

Bullpen ERA: Chicago 19th, Baltimore 18th

Fewest Errors Made: Chicago tied for 25th, Baltimore 6th

Game 1: Monday, June 23, 7:05 on MASN

Chris Sale LHP (6-1) vs. Wei-Yin Chen LHP (7-2)

Sale’s Season Stats: 65 1/3 IP, 75 Ks, 2.20 ERA, .75 WHIP

Sale’s Last Three Starts: 1-1, 20 IP, 23 Ks, 3.60 ERA, 1.10 WHIP

Chen’s Season Stats: 83 1/3 IP, 60 Ks, 3.78 Ks, 1.24 WHIP

Chen’s Last Three Starts: 1-0, 20 IP, 14 Ks, 2.25 ERA, .80 WHIP

Two-time All-Star Chris Sale has struggled against the Orioles in limited opportunities over his career. Over seven appearances (one start), Sale has pitched to a 6.75 ERA and a 2.14 WHIP, with 10 strikeouts over 9 1/3 innings. His lone start against the Birds came in 2012. He took the loss after surrendering four runs on six hits and three walks, with five strikeouts over four innings. Despite these rough numbers against the O’s, Sale is a true ace, who has finished in the top 10 in the AL Cy Young voting the past two seasons. His .75 WHIP as a starter would be the best in the MLB if he had thrown enough innings to currently qualify. A strained flexor muscle in his pitching arm cost him a little over a month of action earlier this season. Needless to say, the Birds’ offense will have to bring their A game against Sale’s quirky delivery and electric stuff.

Chen has been excellent in his three career starts against the White Sox. He’s 1-0 with 20 Ks over 17 1/3 innings, while posting a 2.60 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Chen is on pace to have his best season in the majors, and limiting his walks has been the biggest factor towards his success. In 2012 and 2013, Chen gave up 2.7 walks per nine innings and 2.6 walks per nine innings, respectively. This year that number has been cut roughly in half to 1.3 walks per nine innings. Chen’s pinpoint control has allowed him to strikeout five batters for every batter he walks, which is the 7th best ratio in the MLB.

Good News: Nelson Cruz is 3-for-8 with a home run, Nick Markakis is 2-for-5, and J.J. Hardy is 1-for-2 off Sale. Delmon Young is only 2-for-9 off Sale, but his two hits are a double and a home run.  Gordon Beckham is 1-for-7 and Adam Dunn is 0-for-6 off Chen.

Bad News: Adam Jones is 0-for-2 off Sale. Paul Konerko is 3-for-7, Alexi Ramirez is 2-for-7, Dayan Viciedo is 2-for-6 with a home run, and Moises Sierra is 2-for-3 with a home run off Chen.

Game 2: Tuesday, June 24, 7:05 on MASN

Jose Quintana LHP (3-7) vs. Miguel Gonzalez RHP (4-4)

Quintana’s Season Stats: 90 2/3 IP, 75 Ks, 3.87 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

Quintana’s Last Three Starts: 0-2, 17 1/3 IP, 16 Ks, 6.23 ERA, 1.56 WHIP

Gonzalez’s Season Stats: 63 1/3 IP, 55 Ks, 4.41 ERA, 1.42 WHIP

Gonzalez’s Last Three Starts: 2-1, 17 2/3 IP, 13 Ks, 4.08 ERA, 1.42 WHIP

Quintana has been solid against the O’s in his career, despite having a record of 0-2 against them. In three starts, he’s struck out 16 batters over 17 2/3 innings, while recording a 4.08 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. The long ball has been Quintana’s Achilles’ heel against the Birds, as he has surrendered five home runs over those 17 2/3 innings.

Gonzalez has only made one career start against the White Sox, and it was a beauty. He earned the win after allowing only one run on four hits and a walk, with six strikeouts over seven innings. Gonzalez could definitely use a strong start on Tuesday. He was shaky in his first start back from the disabled list and Kevin Gausman continues to impress. A demotion to the bullpen is a very real possibility for Gonzalez as he appears to be the prime candidate to become the odd man out in the rotation.

Good News: Hardy is 3-for-8 with a home run, Jones is 3-for-6 with two home runs, Young is 3-for-7, and Markakis is 2-for-5 off Quintana. Current White Sox have slashed .179/.179/.179 over 28 at-bats off Gonzalez.

Bad News: Manny Machado is 1-for-8 and Chris Davis is 0-for-6 off Quintana. Dayan Viciedo is 2-for-2 off Gonzalez.

Game 3: Wednesday, June 25, 7:05 on MASN

Hector Noesi RHP (2-5) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez RHP (2-8)

Noesi’s Season Stats: 64 IP, 52 Ks, 5.34 ERA, 1.52 WHIP

Noesi’s Last Three Starts: 1-1, 16 1/3 IP, 13 Ks, 5.51 ERA, 1.53 WHIP

Jimenez’s Season Stats: 81 2/3 IP, 71 Ks, 4.63 ERA, 1.56 WHIP

Jimenez’s Last Three Starts: 0-2, 14 IP, 7 Ks, 5.79 ERA, 1.93 WHIP

Noesi has not only moved from the bullpen to the rotation this season, but also to three different ball clubs. He started the year with the Mariners before being traded to the Rangers. The Rangers then put him on waivers, and the White Sox claimed the 27-year-old righty. This all happened before the calendar turned to May. Noesi has been shellacked by the Orioles over his career, pitching to a 6.75 ERA and a 2.11 WHIP in seven appearances (two starts).

Jimenez has struggled against the White Sox over his career. He’s 2-3 over nine starts, while posting a 4.92 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. Jimenez has been the definition of effectively wild in his last two starts. Over his last 11 2/3 innings, he’s managed to record a 2.31 ERA, despite walking 11 batters. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that he won’t be able to keep that tightrope act going for much longer.

Good News: Cruz is 2-for-5 with a home run and Jones is 2-for-4 with a home run off Noesi. Dunn is 5-for-32 with a home run and Alejandro De Aza is 5-for-23 off Jimenez.

Bad News: Hardy is 1-for-8 and Davis is 1-for-7 off Noesi. Beckham is 7-for-22 with a home run, Viciedo is 7-for-18, and Conor Gillaspie is 5-for-8 off Jimenez.

It’d be very remiss of me to not mention that this series will feature the 2nd (Nelson Cruz) and 3rd (Jose Abreu) leading home run hitters in baseball. Hopefully, the Birds pitchers will be able to neutralize Abreu, the rookie Cuban slugger, and Cruz will deposit a few souvenirs into the left field bleachers for the hometown fans. Enjoy the games everybody, and let’s go O’s!

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