SB Nation Blog
The Opponent, in one sentence
The Orioles over the last few years have always seemed to outperform their expectations mostly thanks to a powerful lineup and deep bullpen, and they add a couple high-ceiling rotation arms in 2017.
Up? I guess. I mean, they’ve won four of their first five games, so they’re trending up. Sure, they lost their last game against the Yankees on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they’re trending down. I don’t think. I promise this section will be much more interesting when the season gets going a little bit.
4/11: Drew Pomeranz vs. Dylan Bundy, 7:10 PM ET
The first game is the most interesting pitching matchup on this short two-game series. For the Red Sox, Pomeranz is making his first start of the season. The lefty, of course, started the year on the disabled list after getting started a bit late in spring training and never really getting his footing in camp. He’s apparently looked better against minor-league competition since camp broke, and the Red Sox are entrusting him with a rotation spot. He showed last year with San Diego that he has the talent to thrive in this league, but he has a tough test against a powerful, righty-heavy Orioles lineup.
For Baltimore, Bundy is one of the more exciting breakout candidates in the American League. A former top prospect, he’s never really put it all together and because of questionable roster management and injury he ran out of options last season. That led to him spending half the year in the bullpen, where he looked good before finishing the year in the rotation. When he’s on, the stuff is electric and he can shut anyone down. Case in point: His first start of the year against the Blue Jays. In that outing, he lasted seven innings and allowed only four hits and one run while striking out eight and walking none. The Red Sox lineup should be close to full health on Tuesday, and they’ll get a big test in game one.
4/12: Steven Wright vs. Ubaldo Jimenez, 7:10 PM ET
On Wednesday, Wright will make his second start of the season after looking just okay against the Tigers this past weekend. The knuckleball was working somewhat, and he put the team in a position to win, albeit not a great one. Those types of outings are to be expected from Wright, and it’s probably a fair expectation on most nights. When the knuckleball is working at full strength, he can shut down any lineup. Of course, there are also nights when it just doesn’t move, and hopefully this is not one of those nights. If it is, the Orioles have the kind of lineup that can take advantage in a big way.
Luckily for the Red Sox, Jimenez is also the kind of pitcher who can easily give up a crooked number. He does show flashes, and there’s always a chance he could have an on-night in which he shuts down Boston’s lineup, but most of the time that’s not the case. These days, Jimenez is mostly a pitcher who lacks any sort of command and allows base runners in bunches.
The Orioles have but one old friend on their roster, and we won’t even see him in this short series. Wade Miley only spent one year in Boston — 2015 — but he made his presence known. Most notably, he killed a snake with his bare hands in spring training. He was also part of that “He’s The Ace” staff on which nobody was even close to an ace. Miley was dealt from Seattle to Baltimore last summer and was horrible for the O’s in the second half, at least by ERA.
Manny Machado does it all. He’s one of the best defensive infielders in the game while also being one of the best hitters in the league. He also doesn’t turn 25 until July and is on the short list for best players in the game not named Mike Trout. I desperately want him out of the AL East.
Chris Davis is your classic boom or bust player who has been more boom than bust over his Orioles career. He’s a constant home run threat, with an average of 44 per 162 games since 2013.
Mark Trumbo is another boom-or-bust right hander, albeit a less consistent one than Davis. Last season was his first in Baltimore, and he took full advantage of Camden Yards as he hit a league-leading 47 home runs.
Adam Jones is something of a polarizing player, as he’s overrated by some more traditional thinkers and underrated by some more new-age evaluators. His defense isn’t all it’s chalked up to be, and his approach at the plate could use some work. Still, his power is legit and when he’s going well he gets enough hits to offset his poor approach.
Jonathan Schoop is one of the more underrated infielders in the game. Like Jones, his approach at the plate isn’t the best but he swing a huge stick while playing a fine second base.
Zach Britton leads Baltimore’s bullpen as one of the truly elite relievers in the game coming off one of the best bullpen seasons in recent memory. His ability to combine strikeouts with ground balls is unmatched in the game.
Brad Brach and Darren O’Day make up one of the most intimidating set-up duos in the league. If the Red Sox find themselves down late in any game, they are in serious trouble.
On Tuesday, the Red Sox, Orioles and any fans in attendance at Fenway are in for a delight. The temperature is supposed to be in the mid-80’s and the sun should be shining.
Wednesday won’t be quite as nice. There is rain and thunderstorms in the forecast that day, although right now it is supposed to clear up around 4:00 PM or 5:00 PM. It’s something to keep an eye on as the storm gets closer.
This is one of just three two-game series the Red Sox will participate in this season. The other two are against the Cardinals.