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Red Sox at Orioles Series Preview

A look ahead at the week’s three-game set against the Orioles

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation Blog

Camden Chat

The opponent in one sentence

The Orioles lackluster pitching staff has finally become too much and they’ve essentially fallen completely out of the playoff chase barring a miraculous win streak to end the year.

Record

73-77 (12.5 behind Boston)

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 6, Orioles 10

Trend

Down. Way down. Though they are coming off a win, Baltimore has been playing some truly horrendous baseball of late. Winners of just two of their last eleven, they’ve played themselves out of the wildcard race with this awful stretch of baseball. The Red Sox will look to make sure that continues.

Pitching Matchups

9/18: Doug Fister vs. Dylan Bundy, 7:05 PM ET

Not too long ago, Fister was the only back-of-the-rotation pitcher it seemed the Red Sox could count on. Now, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez are on nice runs and Fister is coming off one of his few bad starts since joining the Red Sox rotation. Many are already writing off the righty, which I get. The expectations weren’t high when he first came to Boston and every time he has a bad start it seems like he’s just pitching to his talent level. However, he has plenty of good starts at this point and it’s hard to throw all that out after one poor one. This is a big outing for the perception around the veteran. In his one outing against the Orioles this year, he allowed two runs over seven innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Bundy has been solid enough to this point in the year and has essentially average numbers with a 4.03 ERA that includes a little under a strikeout per inning and a little under three walks per nine innings. One of the things that’s holding Bundy back from really taking a big leap forward is an extreme flyball tendency. That can obviously work for some, but it’s extremely difficult for that to work at Camden Yards, a big reason he’s allowed 26 homers in 27 starts. The righty has been really good since the start of August, though, with a 2.74 ERA over 46 innings with 58 strikeouts and 11 walks. He’s been very good over four starts against Boston this year, allowing just seven runs over 25 13 innings (2.49 ERA) with 12 strikeouts and eight walks. Bundy throws a mid-90s fastball to go with a slider, changeup and curveball.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

9/19: Drew Pomeranz vs. Kevin Gausman, 7:05 PM ET

Pomeranz continues to be Mr. Steady in the Red Sox rotation, and it’s hard to overstate how important that’s been for this team. The second half has featured a little more inefficiency than many would like, but he just continues to keep runs off the board. As long as he’s limiting walks he’s been able to throw six solid innings all year long. In three outings against the Orioles this year he’s allowed five runs over 16 23 (2.70 ERA) with 17 strikeouts and five walks.

In a perfect world for the Orioles, Gausman would team up with Bundy for a dynamic one-two punch atop Baltimore’s rotation. He certainly has the talent for it, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together. He has an ugly 4.83 ERA this year despite solid strikeout stuff because of lapses in command that has led to hard contact and too many walks. He’s made three starts this year, but one of them only lasted one inning because of shenanigans that ended with him being ejected for hitting Xander Bogaerts with a breaking ball. In the other two starts he has one in which he allowed five runs in 5 13 innings and another in which he tossed 7 23 scoreless innings. Gausman features a mid-90s fastball to go with a splitter and a slider.

9/20: Chris Sale vs. Wade Miley, 7:00 PM ET

Wednesday is Sale Day, the best day of the week. Obviously, Sale Day hasn’t been quite as exciting as we’d like in recent weeks, but it’s still something to get excited about. One thing worth noting is that, as startlingly average as the lefty has looked of late, he hasn’t been tossing back-to-back bad outings very often. In other words, he’s due for a good one this time out. He’s allowed five runs over 14 innings (3.21 ERA) in two starts against Baltimore this year with 20 strikeouts and three walks.

Miley, an old friend from the “He’s the Ace” Red Sox from a few years ago, has not been good for the Orioles after a surprisingly strong start to the season. The lefty has a 5.82 ERA in the second half and has allowed ten runs over his last two starts, including six runs while recording just one out in his last outing against the Yankees. Miley’s control has been horrendous this year, so Boston’s patient approach should work out in this game. The southpaw has been good against the Red Sox this year, though, allowing just two runs over 12 innings (1.50 ERA) with seven strikeouts and four walks. He features both a four-seamer and a two-seamer, both in the low-90s, along with a slider, a cutter and a curveball.

Old Friends

Wade Miley is the only old friend on the Orioles roster, and he was just discussed above. Just look up.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Hitters

Manny Machado remains the best player on the Orioles roster and the scariest hitter in their lineup. Though he’s been more average than anything over the last month, he’s still showing off solid plate discipline with legitimate power. That’s without even mentioning that he always seems to step up his game against the Red Sox.

Jonathan Schoop continues to be likely the most underrated player on this Orioles team and possibly the most underrated player in the division. He’s an ultra-aggressive player, which can be exploited, but he has great bat-to-ball skills and legitimate power from second base.

Chris Davis is who he is, but he goes through stretches where he simply strikes out too much for his power to play. He’s going through one of those right now with a strikeout rate of 40 percent over the last month of action.

Adam Jones has been one of the best Orioles players over the last 30 days and his numbers have been startlingly similar to Schoop’s over that timeframe, which you can see here.

Trey Mancini has been overshadowed by Aaron Judge and Andrew Benintendi all year, but he’s been a damn good rookie with solid contact skills and power.

Tim Beckham got off to a crazy start with the Orioles but he’s slowed down a bunch since then as his luck on balls in play wanes and his strikeout rate rises.

Mark Trumbo has been disappointing all year and his power is starting to fall off at an alarming rate. Which, of course, means he’ll probably hit four home runs in this series.

Welington Castillo has been carrying the Orioles lineup of late and provides massive power behind the plate.

Bullpen Snapshot

Zach Britton hasn’t been nearly the same dominant pitcher as he was in 2016, and much of that is due to injury. He still gets plenty of ground balls and is hard to score against late in games, but the swing and miss just isn’t there to the same extent.

Brad Brach has continued to do what he always does this year. That is, he’s been an underrated arm behind Britton and has been admirable filling in the ninth inning when he’s needed.

The same can be said for Darren O’Day that I just said for Brach, minus the part about filling in as the closer.

Richard Bleier is the Orioles’ top lefty, and he gets solid results despite an utter lack of strikeout stuff thanks to strong control and a sky-high groundball rate.

Injuries

N/A, somehow.

Weather Forecast

It’s looking like it should be a solid week for baseball in Baltimore this week. The only partially questionable game would be on Tuesday, where there’s a 25 percent chance of rain later in the day. That’s not enough to worry about a cancellation at this point, but a delay of some sort seems possible, at least.