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Series Preview: Rays head to Baltimore.

Cold offense faces bad starting pitching. Can they turn it around?

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The last week has been pretty miserable as a Rays fan. The offense has been awful, the starting pitching is better but not great, and the bullpen has found ways to turn close games into blowouts. The Rays head to Baltimore for a four game series this weekend. If this weekend goes badly as least it will go quickly as all four games are scheduled to be completed within 48 hours.

The Orioles have lost seven of their last twelve. The Orioles have given up 72 runs (6 per game) over that twelve game stretch, but also has scored 65 runs (5.42 per game). The double header on Saturday is due to a postponed game during the second series of the season.

The Matchups:

Friday: Matt Moore vs Yovani Gallardo

Saturday Game 1: Matt Andriese vs Kevin Gausman

Saturday Game 2: Jake Odorizzi vs Chris Tillman

Sunday: Drew Smyly vs Tyler Wilson

The Baltimore rotation has forced a heavy workload on the bullpen and will it continue this weekend?

With this weekend featuring a double header on Saturday the Rays and Orioles will play four games that should be completed within 48 hours. The Orioles rotation has pitched the fifth fewest innings at 388.2 innings (5.47 per game). The Orioles are using yesterday's off day to use their normal starters for this weekend, so I would expect a bullpen arm to get called up for their 26th man for the double header.

Yovani Gallardo has had a slow start to the season after landing on the disabled list after his fourth start. Gallardo currently owns a 6.26 ERA and 4.47 FIP over 23 innings. This will be his second start since returning from the DL. His last start against Toronto saw Gallardo avoid a disastrous outing as he allowed two runs and one homerun during five innings while striking out five and walking four. Gallardo has a 13.2% strikeout rate and 10.4% walk rate in his very small sample this season. His strikeouts have been trending downward since 2013.

Kevin Gausman has pitched well overall, but has had a problem with the long ball as he has allowed twelve on the season. Gausman enters with a 4.37 ERA and 4.52 FIP. He has posted strong 21.0% strikeout and 6.1% walk rates. Gausman is coming off a five inning outing against the Rangers where he allowed four runs and homer while striking out five and walking one.

Chris Tillman has posted a strong 3.11 ERA, but is significantly lower than his 4.05 FIP due to a 83.9% left on base rate. He's sporting a 24.0% strikeout rate and is his highest of his career by a large margin. In 2013 he had a 21.2% rate, but is the only time he has had a rate above 20% in the majors. His 8.6% walk rate is right around his career rate of 8.4%. His last start wasn't great as he allowed four runs and two homeruns over five innings while striking out four and allowing no walks versus the Blue Jays.

Tyler Wilson has filled in admirably as the Orioles fifth starter. He has a 4.19 ERA and 4.27 FIP. He doesn't strike people out with a 12.9% rate or walk many with a 5.5% rate. His last start was pretty solid as he allowed three runs and one homerun over six innings while striking out four and walking one.

The Orioles bullpen continues to be really good.

The Oriole bullpen has 4.7 RA9 WAR and are fourth in the league with a 3.11 ERA. They have pitched the twelve most innings and 30.2 innings more than the Rays bullpen. This weekend could see them continuing to pile up the innings. Fifteen pitchers have thrown at least one inning to spread the workload.

Zach Britton and Brad Brach have been incredible on the season as they have posted ERAs of 1.17 and 1.11 respectively. Britton has struck out 31.6% of batters and walked 7.0%. He has posted a really high 33.3% home run per fly ball rate, but has only allowed three fly balls this season in 30.2 innings. Brach has been a workhorse as he's amassed 40.2 innings which is good for fifth among relievers (Erasmo Ramirez is number two with 43.1 innings). He has struck out 30.5% and walked 7.1% of batters.

The bats have carried the Orioles to a 41-30 record and the AL East lead.

The Orioles have been killing the ball with a .266/.328/.461 and 109 wRC+ good for third best in the league. They currently lead the league with 111 homeruns.

Manny Machado has been the carrying force of the Baltimore offense as he's broken out to a .317/.380/.605 158 wRC+ line with 17 homers. Machado is tied for fourth among position players in the league with a 3.8 fWAR.

Mark Trumbo has had an incredible year with the bat in his first with the Orioles as he is currently tied for the league lead with 21 homeruns. He is batting .283/.332/.558 and 136 wRC+.

Chris Davis continues to do his low average (.230), take his walks (14.0%), and hit for power (.246 ISO) leading to a .230/.349/.476 120 wRC+ line.

Hyun Soo Kim has picked it off after losing his job to Joey Rickard to start the year as he's hitting .339/.417/.420 132 wRC+ over 127 plate appearances. Joey Rickard has scuffled after a scorching hot start and is hitting only .236/.296/.306 62 wRC+ against right handed pitchers. He has hit .323/.371/.538 144 wRC+ against left handed batters, so they form a very productive platoon.

Adam Jones is breaking out of his early season slump that saw him post wRC+s of 69 and 76 in April and May. In June Jones has hit .272/.299/.576 with a 128 wRC+ and eight homeruns.

Can the Rays put a win on the board?

After not picking up a win in over a week it feels as though the Rays might never win another game. Just seeing a win on the scoreboard would feel better even if it doesn't get the Rays back in the race. All they can do is play the one game in front of them and can't win multiple games at once.

The starting rotation should give the Rays an opportunity to put some runs on the board. One way or the other at least it will be quick as the series will be over within 48 hours and four games will be knocked out.