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Series Preview: Get ready for the TBex Reunion

Rays take on Orioles in Charm City

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays take on the Baltimore Orioles in seven of their last ten games, starting tonight with four games in Baltimore. The Orioles have struggled in September, losing 12 of their last 14 games, including two recent shutouts their last two times out against the Boston Red Sox.

The Matchups:

Thursday 7:05 PM: Matt Andriese vs Gabriel Ynoa
Friday 7:05 PM: Alex Cobb vs Jeremy Hellickson
Saturday 7:05 PM: Jake Odorizzi vs Ubaldo Jimenez
Sunday 1:35 PM: Chris Archer vs Dylan Bundy

The Orioles starting rotation is their weak link.

The Orioles rotation has the highest ERA in the majors at 5.64. Their 5.20 FIP is third highest with only the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox coming in higher.

Gabriel Ynoa entered the year as the ninth best prospect in the New York Mets system, according to Baseball America. The Orioles acquired Ynoa for cash considerations in February. The scouting reports indicate he throws his fastball at 93 mph with an above average changeup and slider. In two starts with the Orioles he’s allowed six runs, five earned, in nine innings. He has struck out seven and walked two.

Next, Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove Award winner (remember that?) Jeremy Hellickson takes on his former team. Last year Hellickson had a bounce back season with the Philadelphia Phillies, but this year has been his worst as a pro. His 5.47 ERA and 5.82 FIP are both the highest in his career. His strikeouts have plummeted to 13.7%. His 6.8% walk rate is right around his career rate. In his last start the New York Yankees jumped on Hellickson for six runs in three innings including two homers. He has walked four batters in three of his last four starts.

Ubaldo Jimenez is another Orioles pitcher putting up the worst season of their career. In 139.2 innings he has a 6.57 ERA and 5.43 FIP. His 21.6% strikeout rate is his highest since 2011. His 9.2% walk rate is better than his 10.5% career rate. The problem has been the longball. He’s allowed a 20.3% HR/FB rate and 31 total homers. Jimenez had a strong showing in his last start. He allowed one run in five innings while picking up ten strikeouts.

Dylan Bundy has been the Orioles most effective starting putting up a 4.24 ERA and 4.38 FIP in 169.2 innings. Bundy has posted a solid 21.8% strikeout rate and 7.3% walk rate. Bundy got hammered by the Red Sox in his last start allowing six runs in 4.1 innings.

Zach Britton is hurt once again.

Last year Zach Britton put up one of the best relief seasons in MLB history. This year he hasn’t been able to get going. He’s only managed 37.1 innings in 38 appearances. Yesterday Britton received a platelet-rich-plasma injection in his left knee and will have to miss a minimum of three to five days.

In Britton’s absence Brad Brach (2.60 ERA/3.58 FIP) and Mychal Givens (2.84 ERA/3.88 FIP) have done most of the heavy lifting. Brach has picked up 17 saves. Darren O’Day (3.59 ERA/3.83 FIP) has missed some time, but has been effective for 57.2 innings.

The Orioles offense has hit a wall.

With the lack of starting pitching the Orioles have had to out-slug their opposition to win games. In August that worked quite well; in September not so much. This month they’ve been the league’s worst offense, hitting .213/.263/.358 and 60 wRC+. They have only scored 55 runs (2.89 runs per game).

Overall they are hitting .261/.314/.441 and 97 wRC+.

Former Ray Tim Beckham started off hot after being traded to the Orioles. His first two weeks he hit .485/.507/.879 and put up a 268 wRC+ through 69 plate appearances. He’s come back to earth hitting .226/.279/.380 and 72 wRC+ in his next 147 plate appearances.

Jonathan Schoop has been their best bat over the season with a 124 wRC+ and tied with Manny Machado for the team lead with 32 homers. Machado has had a disappointing season at the plate with a 107 wRC+, but has brought his stellar defense.

Wellington Castillo has had a good year at the plate hitting 112 wRC+ while bringing solid traditional defense behind the plate.

Winter Haven High School graduate Trey Mancini has had a great rookie season. He’s hit .293/.337/.499 with 24 homers in 549 plate appearances.

Chris Davis isn’t having the season the Orioles expect after signing him to a 7/$161MM deal last winter. He has a 90 wRC+ and 24 homers in 494 plate appearances.

We’re down to the final ten games.

It’s understandable to be disappointed with how the final six to eight weeks have played out after they Rays seemed to put themselves in a good spot before the trade deadline. However shortly we’ll be looking at six months until the Rays play again and for now there is at least baseball. Enjoy!