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2019 Series Preview #21: Baltimore Orioles @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (43-21, 1st in AL West) return home for eight games, starting with three against the hapless Orioles (19-43, 5th in AL East)

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Houston Astros John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Recency Bias

Orioles

The Orioles are in a rough spot coming into this series . Not only are they strong contenders for the 1st overall draft pick in 2020, they also had three players leave Wednesday’s game against the Rangers with injuries. Though it looks like no one is going to the IL for them, they also played a 12 inning game in that one before going late yesterday thanks to a rain delay. It doesn’t help that they also have an absolutely atrocious pitching staff, having given up a whopping 123 home runs coming into play yesterday. Not to mention the fact that they haven’t won a series since April 24th or two games in a row since May 6th. Yikes.

Of Bats and Men

Baltimore Orioles v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It’s not all doom and gloom for the O’s however as they also have one of the better catchers in the league in the form of Pedro Severino. Though he’s only been in 35 games so far this season, he’s mashed 8 homers during that time and has also been one of their hottest hitters this week.

That’s alongside Trey Mancini, who has been rather impressive in his third year in the bigs. Mancini entered Thursday’s game with a .298/.353/.539 sash line on the year, and has also been swinging a hot bat in recent games.

Renato Núñez and Richie Martin have both been getting it done at the plate lately too, but their recent numbers are more the product of good streaks as opposed to sustained success. Baltimore’s offense in general sort of begins to slide downhill at that point.

Keon Broxton has probably been the best of their remaining players in what I would call a somewhat lackluster this season. Old friend Jonathan Villar is also there so I feel like I should mention him, but his 2019 is pretty forgettable so far.

The Orioles sit in or near the bottom 5 in the league for most of the traditional offenseive stats. There is one notable exception with strikeouts, where they are more in middle of the pack instead of behind. But even with that this offenses does look somewhat ripe for the picking against against Astros pitching.

On the Pen

Baltimore Orioles v Texas Rangers Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Like so many of the struggling teams in the league without clearly elite relievers, the Orioles are piecing together the back end of their games with whoever can get them reliable outs at the moment. Unfortunately that’s been hard to figure out for Baltimore, though it does appear that Mychal Givens will be getting the ball in the 9th with a lead to protect.

Though Givens did start the year getting the majority of saves, he would struggle and surrender the job to the bullpen at large before seemingly regaining it in recent days. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has also called on Shawn Armstrong, Paul Fry and Richard Bleir to get saves in 2019.

Beyond those guys things are... not great for Orioles pitching. Miguel Castro sees the most work out of the pen for the team, but he’s also sporting an ungainly 5.93 ERA in over 30 innings.

After trading away the big names in their pen in recent years, the Orioles did nothing to address it in the offseason and it shows. Even with a couple of bright spots in the pen, there’s not a whole lot to get excited about for the Orioles relievers.

Astros

The Astros return to MMP after a successful road trip where they went 6-1 with a sweep over Oakland and winning 3 of 4 against the M’s. Things would feel like a bit of a grind in the final two games of the trip, however, as they bullpen would suddenly find themselves in the unfamiliar position of sucking. Though the offense turned in a solid-enough performance to sneak past the Mariners in yesterday game, it hasn’t been as explosive as it normally is thanks to the injuries. Fortunately, even missing key components, the Astros have managed to keep on rolling and building a division lead.

Of Bats and Men

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Big Man in the Astros’ lineup this past week has definitely been the birthday boy Robinson Chirinos. Chirinos has been riding some sort of ridiculous hot streak this week, spanking 4 home runs and walking 5 times while only striking out 4. As per usual, Bregman is also hanging out near the top of the leaderboards for the ‘Stros, and has hit safely in every game so far in June.

Things stay nice and steady for Houston after that, with Reddick, Kemp, Straw, and Fisher all turning in excellent performances during the road trip. Brantley was actually a little down on the West Coast compared to what he normally does, but he was still productive.

It would slow down for the rest of the lineup though. White, Gurriel, and Marisnick all struggled at the plate on trip. Jack Mayfield also continued to struggle mightily at the plate, but he did provide a some power with a solo shot in yesterday’s game.

On the Pen

MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In what has definitely been a bit of a bizarro week for the bullpen, Devo stood out as one of the better pitchers while on the road. He pitched in 3 separate games during that time, including a two-out performance to secure yesterday’s win. He did wobble in that one, walking the bases full, but managed to wiggle out of trouble with the W.

Framber Valdez also performed admirably when called on to cover for the struggling Corbin Martin when he left another game early. Valdez went 4 innings of scoreless ball in that appearance, but he did have to weave around some traffic on the basepaths. He was rewarded after the game with a promotion to the rotation.

The normally lights-out Pressly and Osuna have both been a little off recently, with Pressly giving up 2 runs and Osuna blowing a save this week. Harris and Rondón have also been giving up runs in recent matches, with Harris having a particularly rough outing against Seattle.

Of course there are going to lulls in the season so there’s not much to worry about. The pen was always going to be headed toward some natural regression when it comes to giving up runs, but let’s hope some of the more dominant relievers can stem the tide and return to dominance soon.

Pitching Match Ups

MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1: Gabriel Ynoa, RHP (0-2, 5.06 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole, RHP (5-5, 3.94 ERA)

This game will be Gabriel Ynoa’s third start after having been moved from the pen to the rotation at the end of May. He was already the longman for the Orioles before the move and he seems to be mostly stretched out with his longest appearance of 5 innings his last time out. He would give up 4 runs, 2 earned, in that game, but I’m sure that the O’s really just want someone who can go deep to rest a weary pen.

Cole takes the mound for Houston and will make this start after a solid 6 inning, 2-run game against Oakland, which came on the heels of a similar one against the Cubs. The most unusual thing about that game was the lack of strikeouts since he only had 4 across the 5 frames. Even with that, Cole’s K/9 is at a ridiculous 13.44 rate. He leads the AL with 116 strikeouts, and is just one behind Scherzer for the MLB lead.

Game 2: Andrew Cashner, RHP (6-2, 5.04 ERA) vs. Framber Valdez, LHP (2-2, 3.12 ERA)

Cashner will make this start after a couple of stinkers in a row where he surrendered 5 and then 6 runs, managing to also walk 5 in his most recent game. Cashner has struggled at times this season and is prone to the clunker, so his ERA paints a pretty accurate picture. He has managed a couple of masterful outings though, so the talent that got him to the big leagues will still flash from time to time.

Valdez will get his first start of 2019 after taking over the spot previously occupied by Corbin Martin. Valdez has had a pretty successful season out of the bullpen, showing a canny ability to get out of trouble when needed to. Of course, he’s usually the one getting himself into trouble with his alarmingly high 4.50 BB/9 rate, but let’s not talk about that. He is really good at keeping the ball out of the air though, only giving up a single home run in 26 innings so far in 2019.

Game 3: Dylan Bundy, RHP (3-6, 4.64 ERA) vs. Wade Miley, LHP (5-3, 3.39 ERA)

Dylan Bundy heads to the bump while in the middle of an unspectacular season that nevertheless sees him as one of the better starters for the Orioles. While he will occasionally have a decent game, he’s more prone to giving up 3 or 4 runs before leaving after the 5th. He’s not really terrible, but he’s also not exactly a stud. Bundy can be prone to the long ball, already giving up multiple blasts in 4 of his 12 games, including a 4-spot to Oakland.

Houston counters with Wade Miley, who has been cruising through his season, only giving up more than three runs in one of his 13 games this year. He would leave his most recent start with 3 earned runs, but two of those came after he was pulled in the 6th. Before that Miley had been on a mini hot street, and seems to be striking out more batters than he was at the beginning of the season.

Fun Fact

Robinson Chirinos is the first Astros catcher to hit 4 home runs in 4 straight games since Cliff Johnson did it in 1975. Johnson actually had 5 in a row during that season, which I feel means that Chirinos needs to go yard in his next game.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, June 7th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Orioles - Orioles Radio Network / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Orioles - MASN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Saturday, June 8th @ 3:10 pm CDT
Listen: Orioles - Orioles Radio Network / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Orioles - MASN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Sunday, June 9th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Orioles - Orioles Radio Network / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Orioles - MASN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (133 votes)
  • 24%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (44 votes)
  • 1%
    Orioles Win 2-1
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Orioles Sweep 3-0
    (3 votes)
182 votes total Vote Now