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Series Preview: Red Sox vs. Orioles

A look ahead to the weekend’s four-game set against Baltimore

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

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The Opponent in one sentence

The Orioles have been one of the worst teams in baseball to this point in the season due to an underperforming offense and perhaps the worst pitching in the American League.



Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 3, Orioles 0


Up. For perhaps the first time in 2018, the Orioles are trending in the right direction over the last week or so. They are 5-2 in their last seven games and won their previous two series before dropping the only game they played against the Phillies earlier this week. The wins did come against Tampa Bay and Kansas City, but the Orioles were having trouble beating everyone so the level of competition doesn’t really take away from this run too much.

Pitching Matchups

5/17: David Price vs. Kevin Gausman, 7:10 PM ET

David Price has not been on the most positive trajectory of late after a huge start to his season. He’s fought some injuries that didn’t turn out as bad as expected and led to referendums on his video game usage, because life is hell. Dumb controversies aside, his performance on the mound hasn’t been good enough. He’s relying too heavily on his fastball/cutter combo. It’s a strategy that can work if his command is perfect, and the bar is even higher with his diminishing stuff. Unfortunately, the command has been far from perfect of late. So, in this start look for Price to either throw his changeup and/or curveball more or for him to have pinpoint location with his fastball and cutter. If not, it will be more of the same, and that’s not great. This will be Price’s first matchup against Baltimore this season.

Maybe it’s just me, but Gausman still seems like one of those young pitchers who is still figuring things out and has his whole career ahead of him. He’s certainly not old and he has time to grow more, but the righty is already in his age-27 season. That being said, he has been looking like he’s putting things together this year. There’s been much more consistency despite a lower strikeout rate, and more refined command has helped him to a 3.18 ERA through eight starts. Both FIP and cFIP would indicate that he’s due for some regression, but it’s worth noting that DRA says that his performance has been mostly real. The Red Sox have yet to face Gausman this year, and the righty throws a mid-90s fastball, a splitter and a slider.

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

5/18: Drew Pomeranz vs. Alex Cobb, 7:10 PM ET

Based on results, Pomeranz has been pretty solid of late, and really all year. He hasn’t had any great starts, of course, but he also hasn’t put the team in an inescapable hole either. He allowed four runs in one of his starts, but in his other four outings he’s allowed just two or three. It does feel like he’s due for a blowup soon given how he’s throwing. He’s still issuing too many walks, and while his curveball has looked mostly good the fastball is still sitting in the high-80s. That’s hard to succeed with, and Pomeranz has been walking a tight rope of late. It would be nice to see him either get the fastball up consistently or to show more refined command. Pomeranz has not faced Baltimore this season.

Cobb was one of the free agents this past winter who couldn’t find a deal to his liking and held out into spring training until he got it. Baltimore gave in and issued him a multi-year deal, and they aren’t feeling great about it right now. He got a late start due to his late signing, and through six starts he has a 7.06 ERA. That’s....not great. He’s allowing a ton of contact, and a lot of that contact is of the hard variety. I don’t have to tell you that this is not a good combination. The Red Sox saw him in his first start of the season and they scored eight runs (seven of which were earned) over just 3 23 innings off the righty. Cobb throws a low-to-mid-90s sinker along with a curveball and a splitter.

5/19: Rick Porcello vs. Dylan Bundy, 7:10 PM ET

Porcello was looking as good, if not better, than he did in his Cy Young 2016 season for much of April, but things have come down a bit since then. Granted, he’s not looking like the worst version of himself, which involves balls leaving the yard left and righty, but he’s certainly more human. Some sort of backslide was to be expected, but he has now allowed five runs in each of his last two outings, and he hasn’t made it beyond the sixth in the month of May. I fully expect him to be better than that, but I think we should probably start expecting something like three runs in six or seven innings rather than the total and utter domination we saw earlier in the year. He also hasn’t seen Baltimore this season.

Bundy is the other high-ceiling arm in the Orioles rotation along with Gausman, and he is both younger and has more potential than his counterpart. He’s also more raw and more prone to blow-up outings right now, however. Through nine starts this year he has a 4.53 ERA, with six starts in which he’s allowed three or fewer runs (and no more than two earned runs) and three in which he’s allowed at least seven. So, it’s sort of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type deal. The Red Sox saw the good version of Bundy in April, scoring just one run in 5 23 innings with six strikeouts and just one walk. Look for his command early, because if that’s off it could be a long day for the Orioles righty. Bundy throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball along with a slider and a curveball.

5/20: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. TBD, 1:10 PM ET

There are a lot of frustrating players on this Red Sox roster, but perhaps no one is on the level of Rodriguez. The former Orioles prospect has the talent to be a legitimate mid-rotation arm on a playoff club, but he has yet to show anything close to the consistency he needs to earn that title. Too often he’s inefficient and struggles to put away batters despite stuff that should make it a relatively easy task. As anyone who watches him knows, it comes down to whether or not he’s attacking the zone. If he’s nibbling around the edges, he’s not going to deep into the game regardless of his performance, and there are going to be way more baserunners than there should be. One of his best starts of this year came against Baltimore when he allowed just one run over six innings with eight strikeouts and just one walk.

The Orioles haven’t announced their starter for Sunday just yet. It sounds like it’s between Miguel Castro or David Hess, but every time I try to guess on these TBD starts I am wrong. I’m not doing that again.

Old Friends

None. Stupid Orioles

Notable Position Players

Manny Machado has been one of the very best players in baseball this season with the same number of walks as strikeouts, huge power and a lot of hits on balls in play. He’s a legitimate superstar, but the good news for the Red Sox is that there’s an increasingly good chance that he’ll be on another team at some point this summer.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Mancini is having a nice sophomore season after a quietly strong rookie year despite a drop-off in power. He’s making up for the lowered power output with much-improved plate discipline.

Adam Jones is on the back nine of his career but the super-aggressive hitter is still a threat to do damage every time he swings the bat.

Jonathan Schoop is having a very disappointing follow-up to a breakout 2017 with a major drop in power and no more patience to make up for it.and no

Chris Davis has been a disaster at the plate this year with his typical strikeout game, a total lack of walks and a shocking lack of power. Only four more years left on that deal after this!

Pedro Alvarez is on the strong side of the platoon and he’s having a solid year, though it’s basically walk, homer or bust for him.

Danny Valencia is the other side of the platoon and should see a bunch of time in this series with all of the lefties in the Sox rotation. He’s having a strong overall year and is always a threat against lefties.

Chance Sisco has taken over as Baltimore’s regular catcher and he’s having success when the ball is in play but is also striking out almost 40 percent of the time.

Bullpen Snapshot

Brad Brach is serving as the Orioles closer with a couple other injuries in the back of the ‘pen that we’ll get to later. He’s had an inconsistent year but he’s looking better of late and has long been an underrated late-inning reliever for this Orioles team.

Mychal Givens is the up-and-coming arm, though he’s been around for a few years now. He’s getting some save chances now and then but whether he’s a closer or not the big righty is going to be an important part of this bullpen.

Richard Bleier has arguably been the best reliever in this bullpen. The lefty hardly gets any strikeouts but he’s proven impossible to square up and he’s never posted an ERA above 2.00 in his three-year career.


Zach Britton has been out all year after rupturing his Achilles tendon over the winter. He’s still got a ways to go in his recovery, but he just started throwing batting practice so he’s progressing in the right direction.

Tim Beckham has been the starting third baseman for most of the year, but he hurt his groin at the end of April and was recently transferred to the 60-day disabled list. It’ll be a while until he’s ready to go again.

Darren O’Day had taken the closer gig from Brach for a little while but hurt his elbow a couple weeks ago. He could be activated at some point during this season.

Chris Tillman was the worst pitcher in baseball, and one of the worst ever, when he was on the mound. Then he was put on the disabled list with a possibly legitimate back injury.

Colby Rasmus has been out with a hip injury since the beginning of April and his timeline is still unclear.

Gabriel Ynoa was supposed to compete for a rotation spot this year but he’s been fighting a shoulder injury and was transferred to the 60-day disabled list at the end of April.

Luis Sardinas wasn’t a big part of the Orioles bench before hitting the disabled list in late April with a back injury.

Weather Forecast

This isn’t going to be the nicest series of all-time, with the weather skewing to the colder end of the spectrum. That being said, the first two games should be completely dry. There are some showers in the forecast for Saturday, but it looks like they should clear up in time for this game. Sunday should be warmer, though there is a chance of some scattered showers that day as well.