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Series #11: Athletics vs Orioles - Coming Home to Roost

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Orioles’ Current Record: 8-23, last place in the AL East, worst record in the American League. They were just swept by the Angels, and have lost eight of their last ten overall.

Projected Lineup:

LF - Trey Mancini

RF - Craig Gentry

SS - Manny Machado

CF - Adam Jones

3B - Danny Valencia

DH - Mark Trumbo

1B - Chris Davis

C - Caleb Joseph

2B - Jace Peterson

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Andrew Cashner

Kevin Gausman

Alex Cobb

Recent Bullpen Usage:

After their three game throttling by the Angels, the Orioles’ bullpen is extremely taxed, with three relievers throwing more than twenty pitches yesterday and two more who threw at least thirty pitches the game before. Should the game be close late, the Orioles don’t have many options.

Hottest Hitter(s):

Not much is going right for the Orioles this year, as evidenced by their record, but for sure one thing that is going right is Manny Machado. Great since his first full season back in 2013, Machado is off to the best start of his career, hitting 358/.435/.658 over the first month-plus, all while making a seamless transition from third base to shortstop. Pedro Alvarez is enjoying a nice little resurgence, cutting back on his strikeouts and walking more frequently while maintaining a .515 slugging percentage.

Coldest Hitter(s):

In limited playing time, Danny Valencia has the fourth best OPS on the entire team at .728. The Orioles still have several starters, like Chris Davis and Anthony Santander, batting below the Mendoza line, and there isn’t any help on the horizon. The Orioles have the worst offense in the American League by a wide margin, collectively batting .224/.292/.340.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

While the wins haven’t been there, Dylan Bundy has been a quiet bright spot in otherwise uninspiring starting rotation. The lefty has forty-eight strikeouts in just forty innings pitched, and has performed decently at limiting home runs. Bundy has unfortunately been burdened by many unearned runs and poor defense, so his overall performance has been better than his stats would otherwise indicate. Out of the bullpen, lefty Richard Bleier has given up just one run in nearly twenty innings pitched.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

The Orioles are currently employing two starting pitchers who have more runs allowed than innings pitched, in Chris Tillman and late-signing Alex Cobb. Both starters should perform better in the long run, particularly Cobb, who got a late start to his conditioning this year due to his Free Agency standoff. Other than Bleier, the Orioles’ bullpen has been very uninspiring, providing very little actual relief.

Key Injuries:

Small, nagging injuries have plagued the roster since the start of the season, and currently Jonathan Schoop is out of action with an oblique strain. Mark Trumbo is just starting to get back into action after early season injuries slowed him down.

* * *

After dropping the series to Seattle, the A’s find themselves in fourth place, looking up at a three-headed monster atop the division composed of three teams within half a game of each other. The A’s ace-in-the-hole Sean Manaea finally faltered after a legendary start to his season and most of the key hitters in the lineup have simultaneously gotten cold. The inconsistency of the team is frustrating, considering how good they can be when everything is clicking, but young and inexperienced teams will go through cold stretches. As luck would have it, playing the worst-performing team in the league at home is one of the best ways to make a quick turn around.

It is hard to put much of any of the Orioles’ season in a positive light, but one would be remiss not to mention that the Orioles have never played with a fully healthy lineup this season, and most of the disasters on the starting pitching staff are more than likely going to fix themselves. Alex Cobb won’t continue to give up a run per inning, and neither will Chris Tillman. That turnaround could happen at any moment, so despite Baltimore’s place in the standings, these next three games shouldn’t be written off as easy victories.

Game #32: Friday, May the 4th, 7:05 - NBCSCA, MASN 2,

Daniel Mengden vs Andrew Cashner

Both starters in Friday night’s game are looking to bounce back after poor showings in their last efforts. Mengden had one of the worst starts of his career in a game where nothing really went right versus the Astros, and Cashner struggled to keep the torn down Tigers’ lineup at bay. If neither pitcher is able to get back on track, some balls may get blasted to Tatooine.

Game #33: Saturday, May 5th, 6:05 - NBCSCA, MASN 2,

Trevor Cahill vs Kevin Gausman

Trevor Cahill isn’t the ace he was back in 2010, but since his return to Oakland he has been a dependable and steady force in the starting rotation, serving a very important role on this erratic team. Kevin Gausman plays a similar role in Baltimore’s rotation, and has been one of their primary innings-eaters to get the team through the season.

Game #34: Sunday, May 6th, 1:05 - NBCSCA, MASN 2,

Andrew Triggs vs Alex Cobb

Triggs will be making a start against the team that drafted him on Sunday. After a solid start to the season, Triggs is starting to unravel, just a bit, and with Kendall Graveman, Chris Bassitt, and more knocking on the door in AAA, Triggs will need to turn it around soon or he may find himself in the bullpen. Alex Cobb also needs to turn things around, if only to justify the drama surrounding his free agency this winter.