This weekend the Rays head up north to take on the Baltimore Orioles.
Or so we hope. Saturday night's forecast projects temperatures in the 30s with potential for rain or snow. Not so rainy/snowy the other days but if they are lucky temperatures might hit 50 degrees. And this, folks, is why we (or some of us) live in Florida.
Baltimore comes into the series sitting atop the AL East with a 3-0 record after sweeping the Minnesota Twins.
Over the last 3 years the players on the current Orioles roster have hit 599 home runs, and there's every reason to expect them to continue on that pace in 2016. Keeping the ball in the park will surely be the Rays' pitchers' top challenge.
Orioles offense last 3 years:
|Hyun Soo Kim||Has yet to play in MLB|
Adam Jones was held out of last night's game with soreness in his rib cage. If Jones has limited availability due to the potential oblique injury it will be good news for the Rays.
The offense is balanced with big left handed bats in Chris Davis, Matt Wieters (switch-hitter), and Pedro Alvarez along with recent Korean transfer Hyun Soo Kim.
The Orioles starting rotation is the team's weak link. The starters scheduled to pitch this weekend are led by a league average starting pitcher in Chris Tillman and followed by two inexperienced arms in Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson.
Orioles starting pitching last 3 years:
Chris Tillman had an impressive start that was shortened to 2 innings by rain on Monday in which he struck out five of the six batters he faced. His start was moved up to Friday night in order to face off against Chris Archer.
Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson are uninspiring arms that likely have the upside of a back of the rotation starters. The Rays need to take advantage of these starters to put some runs on the board to give the Rays pitching staff some margin for error.
Orioles bullpen last 3 years:
The back end of the bullpen is a real strength as Zach Britton, Darren O'Day, and Mychal Givens gives them a top 3 that can compare favorably with anybody outside of the Bronx.
The real wild card is Dylan Bundy, former number four overall pick in the 2011 draft, who made his MLB debut as a 19-year old in September 2012. Shortly after his MLB debut he would go under the knife, undergoing Tommy John surgery. Because he is out of options the Orioles had to call up the talented right handed pitching prospect, using him out of the bullpen. Bundy has only managed 66.1 innings pitched over the last three seasons.
The Rays should hope the series is played in full as they have a chance to take advantage of two starters who shouldn't be part of a MLB rotation on a team looking to compete. The game on Saturday night has the potential to be rescheduled as it appears to have a high chance of rain or snow.
The Rays should have the advantage in all three games on the mound. This is an opportunity for the Rays to bank some wins against a divisional opponent.