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Rays vs Orioles Series Preview: It’s Raining Openers!

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Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays

After losing two of three to the Red Sox, the Rays have won seven of their last ten and face a Baltimore Orioles team that has been historically bad on the road. The Orioles are a respectable 10-13 at home, but on the road they are 6-21.

The Orioles are coming off a four game split against the Chicago White Sox.

The Matchups:

Friday 7:10 PM: TBA vs Sergio Romo
Saturday 4:10 PM: Andrew Cashner vs Ryne Stanek
Sunday Kevin Gausman vs Sergio Romo

After Sergio Romo started both games last weekend against the Los Angeles Angels the Rays have decided to start all three games with relievers. Much like the Angels, the Orioles who don’t have a real left handed hitting threat at the top of the lineup but do feature a righty who can single-handedly transform the game (Trout for the Angels, Machado for the Orioles). Starting the game with a righty reliever allows the Rays to deploy multi-inning lefties like Banda or Yarborough in the second or third inning, where they miss at least one of those at bats.

I think splitting Sergio Romo with another right handed opener option is good in this case. Having the same batters face Romo three days in a row feels like that might have a very similar effect as facing a batter the third time through during a single game.

The Orioles starting rotation has put the team in tough spots early

Orioles Starters Last 3 Years

Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Andrew Cashner 87 482.2 17.0% 9.6% 1.04 4.48 4.56
Kevin Gausman 91 528.2 22.2% 7.0% 1.40 4.09 4.23

The Orioles starting rotation has the second worst team ERA at 5.49 and fourth worst FIP at 5.15. In 50 games they have allowed 60 runs (10.80 runs per nine average).

Andrew Cashner is an interesting starting pitcher. In an age where strikeout rates have increased Cashner put up a 12.2% strikeout rate in 2017, but was able to post a 3.40 ERA over 166.2 innings. This year his strikeout rate has returned to a more normal 20.2%, but the ERA has ballooned to 4.72. Last July the Rays put up three runs in six innings against Cashner while he was with the Texas Rangers. In his last start he held the White Sox to two runs in five innings.

Kevin Gausman has put up a strong start to the year with a 3.48 ERA and 4.11 FIP. His strikeout rate has stayed consistent over his run in the majors, but this year his walk rate has fallen to 5.7%. Gausman has shown reverse splits in his career. Right handed bats have put up a .341 wOBA for his career and .345 wOBA this year against him. Left handed bats have put up a .310 wOBA for his career and a .298 wOBA this year. In his first start against the Rays this year he allowed two runs in 7.1 innings.

Zach Britton and Darren O’Day are still on the disabled list.

Orioles Relievers Last 3 Years

Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Brad Brach 204 224.2 27.1% 10.1% 0.76 2.60 3.26
Mychal Givens 178 209.2 29.9% 9.2% 0.77 2.88 3.13
Richard Bleier 102 111.2 10.9% 4.6% 0.48 1.85 3.67
Miguel Castro 80 111.2 15.5% 10.4% 1.13 3.95 4.89
Mike Wright 31 58.1 17.1% 9.1% 0.93 5.55 4.53
Pedro Araujo 17 24.1 25.9% 12.0% 2.22 7.03 5.86
Tanner Scott 10 13.0 27.6% 12.1% 0.69 6.23 3.27

Even with two of their backend arms on the shelf they still have quality options to finish off games. Much like the Rays bullpen the Orioles bullpen is forced to carry a large load, but they don’t have many that throw multiple innings.

Mychal Givens (3.76 ERA/2.46 FIP) and Brad Brach (3.79 ERA/3.00 FIP) are usually saved for the late innings.

The Orioles haven’t had a day off in the past week, but Dylan Bundy’s complete game yesterday afternoon gave the bullpen a much day off.

Manny Machado is destroying baseballs

Orioles Batters Last 3 Years

Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Manny Machado 2145 114 24 8.3% 16.1% 0.285 0.344 0.518 0.363 128
Adam Jones 1925 85 6 4.6% 18.1% 0.268 0.306 0.455 0.324 102
Chris Davis 1876 107 4 12.5% 33.4% 0.228 0.330 0.467 0.341 113
Jonathan Schoop 1750 73 4 3.9% 21.9% 0.276 0.312 0.469 0.332 107
Mark Trumbo 1750 88 3 7.0% 25.3% 0.252 0.306 0.460 0.327 104
Danny Valencia 1428 54 3 8.3% 22.3% 0.272 0.333 0.451 0.336 113
Jace Peterson 1160 14 21 11.3% 20.2% 0.232 0.322 0.339 0.293 81
Pedro Alvarez 860 50 3 9.8% 26.5% 0.245 0.320 0.484 0.342 115
Trey Mancini 813 34 1 6.9% 23.2% 0.284 0.337 0.478 0.347 116
Joey Rickard 590 11 12 5.1% 21.0% 0.256 0.301 0.370 0.292 79
Craig Gentry 247 2 12 8.9% 19.0% 0.230 0.306 0.332 0.283 74
Andrew Susac 147 3 0 6.8% 32.7% 0.206 0.265 0.353 0.271 69
Chance Sisco 122 4 1 9.0% 36.9% 0.245 0.344 0.434 0.341 114

The Orioles have been one of the least productive teams at the plate, scoring 201 runs in their first 50 games (4.02 runs per game). The Orioles are hitting .234/.298/.395 and have a 87 wRC+.

The starting rotation hasn’t given the offense a lot of opportunities to win games, but even when they have, the offense hasn’t delivered.

Manny Machado is putting up the best start of a season in his career. He’s hitting .335/.409/.634 and putting up a 175 wRC+ through 220 plate appearances. He’s hit 15 homers and doing everything he can do to try to carry this team.

The problem is he really doesn’t have much help. Of batters with 100+ plate appearances only Trey Mancini (102 wRC+) and platoon bats Pedro Alvarez (116 wRC+) and Danny Valencia (111 wRC+).

Mark Trumbo (112 wRC+) started the year on the disabled list and he has only manged 82 plate appearances. He injured himself on a slide and missed the last two games. He’s expected to have a MRI on the knee today before making a decision whether he will need to hit the disabled list.

Chris Davis’s monster contract didn’t get off to a good start, but this year has been a disaster. It’s the third year of a seven year $161 million deal. He’s hitting .152/.240/.250 and putting up a 34 wRC+ through 183 plate appearances.

The Rays look to take advantage of a struggling opponent at home.

The Rays have played the Red Sox close, but fallen short more often than not with a 4-9 record. Against the rest of the league they are 19-16.

Last weekend didn’t go well in Baltimore, but let’s hope that home cooking flips the script.