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Series Preview: Steve Pearce returns

Steve Pearce returns to the Trop where he has hit very well.

MLB: Houston Astros at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles come to St. Pete for Labor Day. The Rays are coming off a series victory against the AL East leading Blue Jays. The Orioles are coming off a series victory over the Yankees. Steve Pearce makes his return to Tropicana Field. This could be a fun one.

The Matchups:

Monday: Ubaldo Jiminez vs Matt Andriese

Tuesday: Yovani Gillardo vs Jake Odorizzi

Wednesday: Dylan Bundy vs Drew Smyly

The starting rotation is still the weak link of the Orioles.

The Orioles starters own the fifth highest ERA (4.87) and FIP (4.70) in the majors. The Rays will avoid their two most effective starters in Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman.

Ubaldo Jiminez is really struggling this year as he has a 6.22 ERA, but only a 4.48 FIP over 97 innings. Jiminez has had a major problem with control as he has a 12.1% walk rate. That ranks third in the majors among starters with at least 80 innings thrown this year one slot ahead of Tuesday’s starter Yovani Gallardo. Left handed batters are absolutely crushing Jiminez to the tune of .333/.423/.575.

Yovani Gallardo has had a rough start to his tenure in Baltimore. He has posted a 5.62 ERA and 5.31 FIP. He has combined a very low strikeout rate, 14.9%, and walking batters at an extremely high rate, 11.9%. Gallardo has been hit around by batters of both handedness. He’s allowed the same .277 batting average and very similar ISOs of .183 and .181. The real difference comes in walk rates as he’s walked 15.3% of left handed batters and 9.2% of right handed batters.

Dylan Bundy has been very effective in the rotation. He’s made 10 starts of 3.76 ERA and 4.91 FIP ball. He struck out 24.3% of batters and walked 9.6% of batters. Bundy made his first start at the Trop and he got hit around for four runs over 3.1 innings and allowed three homers. He’s coming off a scoreless 5.2 innings against the Yankees where he allowed two hits and four walks while striking out five.

The Orioles bullpen has done some heavy lifting

The Orioles pen is led by AL Cy Young candidate Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Mychal Givens. The bullpen has combined for the tenth lowest ERA of 3.67 and their 6.3 RA9 WAR is fourth in the majors.

Zach Britton has been absolutely dominant. He has allowed four earned runs over 55 innings. The left handed reliever has struck out 30.0% of batters and walked 7.7% of the batters faced.

Brad Brach had a great first half, but hasn’t been as good since the all-star break. He had a 0.91 ERA in the first half, but it’s ballooned to 3.93 in the second half. Right handed batters have been shut down and only have managed a .098/.159/.200 line. Left handed batters have found much more success with a .277/.338/.378 line.

Mychal Givens, a local Plant High School (Tampa, FL) product, has been effective with a 3.57 ERA. He picks up a lot of strikeout, 29.7%, but this year his walks have ballooned to a 11.9% rate.

The Orioles offense leads the league in homers.

The Orioles have hit 214 homers (1.57 per game) and lead the league by 17 over the Blue Jays. They have taken advantage of their home park as they are only hitting .254/.309/.431 and 96 wRC+ on the road.

Manny Machado leads the offense hitting .305/.357/.563 and 139 wRC+ with 33 homers.

Mark Trumbo leads the league in homers with 41. He’s having a big season heading into free agency hitting .254/.317/.536 and 123 wRC+ with the league leading homer total.

Chris Davis has struggled in his first season of a seven year mega contract by hitting .224/.338/.473 and 114 wRC+ with 33 homers.

The Orioles lineup is deep with complementary pieces such as 2B Jonathan Schoop (103 wRC+), CF Adam Jones (105 wRC+), and DH/1B Pedro Alvarez (116 wRC+).

Happy Labor Day!

Hope everybody in the norther part of the state has stayed safe from Hurricane Hermine last week. The Rays will look to continue their second half of playing much better than the 27 game stretch right before the all-star break.

The Orioles are currently tied for the second wild card with the Tigers. This continues a stretch of teams in the hunt that the Rays will face.

The Rays will have a chance to put up some runs against the weak Baltimore starters, but if the game gets late the chances will likely dry up.

Reminder, we have two day games this series! Today will be an early start due to Labor Day at 1:10 PM. Wednesday’s game is also a scheduled 1:10 PM start.