The Royals welcome the red hot Orioles to town for a three game set over the weekend. The Orioles have been at or near the top of the AL East all season, even though preseason projections had them floundering toward the bottom of the division. They’ve gotten it done in a different way than I think most expected they would. They’ve hit some home runs, but not an inordinate amount. They’ve scored some runs, but not an inordinate amount. They’ve even stolen some bases. They’re more than halfway to their total from the entire 2016 season. This is a good Orioles team, but with Zach Britton out for awhile, they’ll need their starting pitching outside of Dylan Bundy and Wade Miley to step up to keep the good times rolling.
|Standings||1st place, AL East|
|Team SP DRA||5.46|
|Team RP DRA||4.46|
|Team WARP Leader||Wade Miley, 1.2|
Orioles vs. Royals
Orioles Projected Lineup
It took a long time and there was a Tommy John surgery somewhere, but Bundy has finally arrived after years of promise. It does seem like he’s been hanging around forever, but he doesn’t even turn 25 until after the season. This year he’s been fantastic, though reason for optimism is that he’s coming off his worst start of the year. Of course, that worst start is also an outing where he allowed three runs in six innings. Bundy has a nice mix of pitches with a 92-93 MPH four seam fastball that he throws about 45 percent of the time, a slider that’s very good and a changeup and curve to round out his repertoire. The fastball has been hit the hardest of all his pitches while his slider has really been his go to for the strikeout when he’s needed it. If you wanted to ding Bundy for his performance this year, it’s fair to note that he has only struck out 5.5 batters per nine innings. He has better stuff than that, though, so I’d bet on that ticking up soon. He’s been amazing with runners on and in scoring position allowing a .718 OPS with the bases empty, but just a .432 OPS with runners on and .352 with runners in scoring position. He also really hasn’t suffered a third time through the order penalty at all with offenses actually getting worse against him as the game goes on. It is worth mentioning that his strikeouts do drop as the game progresses, so maybe the Royals can hearken back to the 2015 days and make some things happen with a contact-driven approach.
The Orioles ace will face the Royals ace, Danny Duffy, who has given us reason for some concern. The back of the baseball card numbers aren’t concerning. He’s giving innings. He’s getting results. But he’s back to career norms of walking hitters and not striking out as many as you’d think he would. In two of his last three starts, he’s gotten six or less swinging strikes after topping out at 19 in his start against the Rangers on April 20th. It could very well be that it’s just a bit of a swoon, but let’s watch this trend. Even with the “struggles,” he hasn’t given up more than two runs in any start that wasn’t against the White Sox.
Weather: 70°, Wind NE 3-6 MPH, Sunny/Clear, 0% Precipitation
Tillman made his first start of the year against the White Sox last week and he was solid. He allowed just three hits over five innings and picked up the win. His absence early in the season was one reason why many believed the Orioles might struggle out of the gate. With him back and them faring well, it’s reason for big time optimism in Baltimore. Where there’s cause for concern is his velocity in his first start. He’s mostly been a guy who lives in the 92-93 range with his fastball, but it averaged 90 MPH in his first start. He didn’t give up a hit on it, but still, that’s reason to at least keep an eye on it over his next few starts. He also throws a changeup, cutter and curve. Last year, the cutter was the best of those remaining three. Tillman is one of those pitchers who you need to get to early if you’re going to get to him. Last year, he allowed a .781 OPS the first time through. That drops to .746 the second time and then .657 the third time through.
Boy, Karns was good in his last start against the Rays, striking out 10 over 6.1 innings. That comes after he struck out four in his last inning against the White Sox, so he’s getting about two strikeouts per inning over his last start plus an inning. It’s the curve that’s done the job for him, accounting for 23 of his 36 strikeouts. The Orioles are a team that can get fooled by curves, but you better not hang them or else you’ll pay with their team power.
Weather: 78°, Wind S 3-6 MPH, Sunny/Clear, 0% Precipitation
There was a time when Ubaldo Jimenez was considered one of the game’s best pitchers. Remember his 2010 with the Rockies when he started so strong? Yeah, that time is over. He’s now in his fourth year with Baltimore, and it’s not really working out for him. If you’re looking for optimism as an Orioles fan, he just went 7.2 innings and gave up four runs in his last start. It’s certainly not world beating, but it’s better than what he had done. Of course, he also had 7.2 shutout innings in a start earlier this year and came back to lose his spot in the rotation. His once blazing fastball now averages about 90-91 MPH. He throws his fastball and sinker at that velocity actually. He still has a slider and splitter to go along with those two pitches as well as the occasional curve and cutter. This year, the splitter is really the only pitch that’s worked for him. Lefties have terrorized him to the tune of a .259/.369/.630 line. He’s also allowed a .372/.563/.791 line when behind in the count, which is quite often. And to round things out, he’s allowed a .298/.407/.638 line with runners on and a .357/.459/.821 line with runners in scoring position. Yeah, it’s not pretty.
The indications are that Young will get another start before Ian Kennedy returns to the team. Yost likes the idea of him throwing at Kauffman Stadium, which I guess is better than him throwing at Camden Yards. Still, this Orioles team with this power looks like a bad matchup for Young. He only made it through three innings in his first start. He allowed four runs (all in the first) on seven hits in that one. My comment in this one is that I hope Ian gets well soon.
Weather: 78°, Wind SW 6-12 MPH, Gusts to 25 MPH, Mostly Sunny/Clear, 0% Precipitation
The Orioles are a really solid team while the Royals are not exactly that. With the offense looking a tiny bit better, I feel like they can get to at least a couple of the Orioles starters in this series, but I still think the Orioles are the better team and the Royals only snag one of these games.