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Rays Series Preview: Uh oh, Orioles

In just five games, Brett Phillips has proven to be a popular player for the O’s. Now he faces his former team that made him a star.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays return home from a 3-3 road trip that ended in disappointing fashion. The Rays hold onto a playoff spot with 52 games remaining.

The Rays have the third wild card spot trailing the Toronto Blue Jays by 2.0 games and the Seattle Mariners for 1.5 games. The Rays have a lead of 0.5 games over the surprise Baltimore Orioles, 1.0 games over the Minnesota Twins, 3.0 games over the Chicago White Sox, and 4.5 games over the Boston Red Sox.

Currently the Rays and Orioles are tied 8-8 in the season series. This could become a very important series as the winner will own the tie breaker should the season come down to it.


Friday 7:10 PM: Austin Voth vs Corey Kluber
Saturday 4:10 PM: Spenser Watkins vs Shane McClanahan
Sunday 1:40 PM: Jordan Lyles vs Drew Rasmussen

Since being designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals, Austin Voth has been a solid pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. In 36.2 innings he’s posted a 3.19 ERA/3.48 FIP/3.80 xFIP, with a 21.6% strikeout rate and 6.8% walk rate. In three appearances (2 starts) he’s only allowed one run in 8.0 innings to the Rays. He hasn’t made it past three innings in any outing but has not allowed damage on the scoreboard. Voth works primarily as a three pitch pitcher. His primary pitch is a 93.8 mph four-seam fastball with a 77.7 mph curveball and 89.8 mph cutter as his secondary options. The fastball has been the pitch most hitters have been able to do the most damage against.

Spenser Watkins has been the stereotypical Orioles starter this year. He doesn’t get strikeouts (15.2% strikeout rate) and fine at avoiding walks (7.1% walk rate) and ending up with solid overall numbers putting up a 4.02 ERA/4.18 FIP/4.79 xFIP. Watkins throws three pitches to all hitters leaning on a 91.4 mph four-seam fastball, 87.1 mph cutter, and 76.9 mph curveball. Against left handed batters he will add a 86.0 mph changeup while going with a 78.8 mph slider against right handed batters. His slider has been his most effective pitch with a .193 wOBA allowed and the only pitch that comes in below .340.

Jordan Lyles has been what the Orioles needed this year. He has provided 130.1 innings of roughly league average production with a 4.35 ERA/4.43 FIP/4.57 xFIP. He’s averaging just over five innings but with the way the Orioles bullpen has thrown that has been enough. Lyles throws a 91.8 mph four-seam fastball and 90.8 mph sinker as his two fastball options. Against right handed batters he throws a 80.1 slider and against left handed batters he adds a 86.3 mph changeup. He will mix in a few 79.0 mph curveballs against all hitters at a low frequency.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

These Orioles traded away Trey Mancini?

The Orioles traded away their longest tenured player Trey Mancini along with their closer Jorge Lopez. Despite the subtractions they have gone 6-2 since the trade deadline passed. Their only major league addition was... Brett Phillips!

As a team the O’s have hit .237/.306/.392 and put up a 97 wRC+, with Phillips contributing two hits (both doubles) and an RBI over 11 PA thus far. The Orioles hit for reasonable power and are good at running the bases. The biggest difference from recent Orioles teams comes on the defensive side where they have posted a +34 DRS after posting a -30 DRS last season.

The star on offense has been Adley Rutschman, who has become the type of hitter that made him the number overall pick in the draft. He’s hitting .250/.364/.427 and putting up a 128 wRC+ in his first 261 MLB plate appearances.

Anthony Santander (126 wRC+), Austin Hays (112 wRC+), Ryan Mountcastle (107 wRC+), Cedric Mullins II (102 wRC+), and Ramon Urias (99 wRC+) have provided solid production at the top and middle of the lineup.

These O’s are different from what you’re used to now, and are riding pitching and defense to playoff contention. Will it last?