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Series Preview: Rays vs. Orioles

Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals wins the All-Star Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays got the second half started in disappointing fashion. After winning the opener they dropped the final two games against the Kansas City Royals. Now they head to Baltimore to face the Orioles in a series that could determine the Orioles direction as they could move at the trade deadline. Can the Rays please take this series and convince the Orioles they are sellers?

A month ago this seemed like it could only be possible in a dream, but after the Orioles went on a run that found them with a .500 winning percentage at the All Star break they sit at 47-48 and 3.5 games out of playoffs. The Orioles take on the Rays in a four-game set and the Cincinnati Reds for three before the trade deadline comes next Tuesday afternoon.

The New York Yankees have hit their first rough patch of the season but still hold a substantial 12.5 game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays, 13.0 game lead on the Rays, 17.5 game lead on the Boston Red Sox, and a 18.0 game lead on the Orioles.


Monday 7:05 PM: Corey Kluber vs Austin Voth
Tuesday 7:05 PM: Shane McClanahan vs Spenser Watkins
Wednesday 7:05 PM: Drew Rasmussen vs Tyler Wells
Thursday 12:35 PM: Ryan Yarbrough vs Jordan Lyles

Austin Voth has been solid for the Orioles after being designated for assignment earlier this year by the Washington Nationals. In 23.2 innings he’s posted a 3.42 ERA/3.17 FIP/3.64 xFIP with a 23.0% strikeout rate and 7.0% walk rate. Voth throws a 93.8 mph four-seam fastball, a 77.6 mph curveball, and 90.0 mph cutter. None of his pitches are swing and miss pitches, but they all get their fair share. Most of the damage has been done off the cutter.

Spenser Watkins has a 3.93 ERA/4.49 FIP/5.26 xFIP over 52.2 innings in 2022. The ERA and FIP represent a substantial step up from his 6.04 ERA and 5.45 xFIP for his career, but the xFIP is in line with his career 5.43 xFIP. He doesn’t get strikeouts (13.6% strikeout rate) but allows too many extra base runners (8.8% walk rate). He has done a good job keeping the ball in the ballpark. Wakins throws a 91.6 mph four-seam fastball, 87.3 mph cutter, 78.9 mph slider, 77.1 mph curveball, and 86.2 mph changeup. He primarily throws the slider to right-handed batters and changeup against left-handed batters cutting down the choice among one of four pitches. The curveball is his best swing and miss pitch (31.3% whiff rate) while also being the pitch hit for the most damage (.448 wOBA).

Tyler Wells fits the mold of the typical Orioles starter this year. He’s done a fine job without getting strikeouts. He’s posted a 3.69 ERA/4.29 FIP/4.67 xFIP with a 17.3% strikeout rate and 6.3% walk rate. Wells is primarily a two-pitch pitcher who throws a 93.6 mph four-seam fastball and 87.6 mph slider. Against left-handed batters he will add an 86.8 mph changeup and against right-handed batters he will add a 77.9 mph curveball. Most of the damage has been done off his four-seam fastball.

Jordan Lyles has been a veteran innings eater. In 112.2 innings he’s posted a 4.79 ERA/4.44 FIP/4.48 xFIP with a 18.8% strikeout rate and a 7.3% walk rate. Lyles throws a 91.9 mph four-seam fastball, 80.0 mph slider, 90.0 mph sinker, 86.4 mph changeup, and 79.1 mph curveball. Hitters have feasted on the four-seam fastball (.396 wOBA) and changeup (.386 wOBA).

The Baltimore offense is a work in progress.

As a team they are hitting .234/.302/.388 and putting up a 94 wRC+. They hit for solid power (.153 ISO) and have some speed on the basepaths (58 stolen bases).

After a rough start to his major league career Adley Rutschman has begun to put up numbers that are expected. He’s hitting .238/.323/.442 and putting up a 115 wRC+ through his first 195 plate appearances.

Austin Hays (117 wRC+), Trey Mancini (113 wRC+), Anthony Santander (113 wRC+), Ryan Mountacastle (112 wRC+), and Ramon Urias (11 wRC+) is a solid foundation for their everyday lineup even if there is not an elite bat in the middle of the lineup.