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Series Preview: Red Sox at Orioles

A look at the start of a ten-game road trip

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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The Opponent in one sentence

The Orioles are the worst team in baseball and have allowed the second-most runs among American League teams while scoring the least.



Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 6, Orioles 1



Pitching Matchups

6/11: Steven Wright vs. Dylan Bundy, 7:05 PM ET

With Drew Pomeranz on the disabled list, Wright has become a full-time member of this rotation. As many here have noted many times, the knuckleball can always have an off-night, but Wright has had more on-nights than off ones both lately and over the last few years (when healthy). He was outstanding in his first start of the year when he tossed seven shutout innings, and prior to that he had combined for nine scoreless innings over four relief appearances. There’s always a bit of nervousness in the back of your mind when Wright throws, but he’s probably earned the benefit of the doubt at this point.

Bundy is one of the few bright spots on this Orioles team, though that may be overextending the definition of bright spot. The talented righty hasn’t really been close to star-level or anything, though he has the potential to be that and has shown it at times. He’s striking out over ten batters per nine innings and his 2.7 walks per nine is solid. However, he’s allowed 16 homers in 13 starts, which has led to a roughly league-average ERA. Bundy is coming off one of his best starts of the year, for whatever that’s worth, having just tossed seven shutout innings against the Mets. In two matchups against the righty this season the Red Sox have scored seven runs (five earned) in 11 23 innings with 14 strikeouts and four walks. Bundy features a low-to-mid-90s fastball along with a slider and a curveball.

6/12: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. David Hess, 7:05 PM ET

Rodriguez is frustrating, as we all know. A lot of the focus is on what he doesn’t do, which is pitch efficiently of go deep into games. It would be really cool if he did those things! However, those concerns take away from the fact that we’re seeing a really good version of #Ed this season. The southpaw, and former Orioles prospect, has a 119 ERA+ with over ten strikeouts per nine and fewer than three walks per nine. Both his FIP and DRA are better than his ERA, which is also good. We should probably focus more on the good than the bad. Rodriguez has also killed Baltimore this year, allowing just one run over 11 23 innings with 15 strikeouts and two walks.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Hess is a 24-year-old righty who has five major-league starts under his belt and it’s hard to understand how he’s pitched so well. That’s not to say it can’t continue — I said that about Dylan Covey recently and won’t make that mistake again so soon — but it’s kind of shocking. Hess does have a 3.07 ERA (135 ERA+), but he also is striking out fewer than five batters per nine innings while allowing six homers in fewer than 30 innings. His FIP is all the way up to 5.48, and that’s still significantly better than his 7.13 DRA. It seems like the Red Sox should do damage here, but his last three starts have come against the Rays, Nationals and Blue Jays and Hess allowed just two runs over 18 23 innings in that span. He’s mostly a two-pitch pitcher, featuring a mid-90s fastball and a slider.

6/13: Chris Sale vs. Andrew Cashner, 3:05 PM ET

Wednesday is Sale Day, and we were reminded on Friday that Sale Day is still amazing, even if they lost that game. After a couple of subpar outings, particularly by his standards, he was as good as we’ve seen him look all year in that loss against the White Sox. His slider was sick, his command was on point and oh yeah he hit 100 mph multiple times. If he can do that again on this getaway day, the Orioles will be in trouble.

Cashner was an Extremely Orioles signing this past winter as a pitcher who performed way beyond any advanced metric believed he should have in 2017. Baltimore needed pitching, though, and they took a chance. It hasn’t paid off, though he has been different than last season. The righty’s strikeout rate of just below eight per nine innings is at least respectable, but he’s combined that with major control and home run problems. As a result he has an ERA of just about 5.00 this year with FIPs and DRAs even worse than that. This will be Boston’s first crack at Cashner this year, and he features a pair of mid-90s fastballs along with a changeup, a cutter and a curveball.

Old Friends

Danny Valencia was on the Red Sox for two months in 2012 before being sold to Baltimore the winter following that season. It was not an illustrious Red Sox career. This year, however, he’s quietly been a major piece in the middle of the Orioles lineup. So there’s that.

Notable Position Players

Manny Machado has been one of the very best players in baseball this season and on any other team he’d be more included in the early-season MVP conversation. He’s almost certainly going to be traded at some point, and whoever gets him will get a phenomenal all-around hitter who can be an elite defensive third baseman or a good defensive shortstop.

Adam Jones is as aggressive as ever, and while his power and overall quality of contact has taken a step back he still does a solid amount of damage for this Orioles team.

Jonathan Schoop has been a major disappointment in 2018 as the second baseman hasn’t been able to maintain any of the power he displayed in his breakout 2017 campaign.

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

Chris Davis has made Schoop look like an All-Star, and the Orioles first baseman could legitimately be on his way to the worst season in baseball history.

Mark Trumbo has kept his season afloat with an unsustainable batting average on balls in play but if he wants to stay at least average at the plate he’ll have to see a major uptick in power.

Trey Mancini is another disappointing Orioles hitter who has not hit for any power in 2018.

Chance Sisco is the future of the catcher position for Baltimore, and while there are major contact issues here he’s been getting on base enough to be solid, at least given his position.

Bullpen Snapshot

Brad Brach has been the closer for Baltimore for the majority of this season due to injuries, and while he’s been better than his 4.24 ERA would indicate his control issues make him better suited for a setup role.

Darren O’Day just got taken off the disabled list and is a really good back-end arm, as long as he’s keeping the ball in the yard.

Richard Bleier does not seem like he should be effective, but he’s quietly been one of the better left-handed relievers in the league for a couple years now thanks to an incredible ability to induce weak contact.


Zach Britton is on the disabled list as of this writing, but he could come back from the torn achilles that’s kept him out all year as soon as tonight. He’s not expected to be the closer right away, but he could be an important part of their bullpen for this series.

Tim Beckham started the year as Baltimore’s third baseman, but he went down with a groin injury in April. He’s ready to start a rehab appearance soon and could be back for the end of this month.

Chris Tillman had been the pitcher version of Chris Davis and has been kept out with a back injury since mid-May.

Colby Rasmus went down less than two weeks into the season and is currently struggling mightily in his rehab assignment.

Luis Sardinas has been out since late-April with a back injury and there’s no timetable for a return.has been out since late

Gabriel Ynoa went down early in the year with shoulder inflammation and it hasn’t really gotten better in that time.

Weather Forecast

The Red Sox and Orioles should be able to get all three games in for this series, but the first two days do have some rain spots in the forecast. Mostly, though, it’s going to be cloudy and Monday will be on the cooler side. Wednesday looks nice with clearer skies and temperatures in the 80s.