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Series Preview: Red Sox at Orioles

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A look ahead to the four-games-in-three-days series in Baltimore

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Camden Chat

The Opponent in one sentence

The Orioles are having a historically bad season and after trading off several key pieces before the trade deadline things certainly don’t look like they’ll be getting better any time soon.

Record

35-80

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 10, Orioles 2

Trend

The Orioles are trending down, but it’s really not that bad when you adjust for the talent-level on the team. They have lost two series in a row and five of eight games this month, but at 6-6 over their last 12 that’s basically domination relative to their overall season.

Pitching Matchups

8/10: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Dylan Bundy, 7:05 PM ET

The newest starting pitcher on the Red Sox is looking to continue his incredible run to start his tenure with his new team. The righty has only made two starts since coming to Boston, but both have been incredible. Overall, he has yet to allow a run over 15 innings of work and he has nine strikeouts to go with just one walk. His velocity is what immediately stands out and the high-90s fastball will play well out of the bullpen if that’s where he eventually ends up in October, but he has shown a full package for a starter as well. His cutter is the new addition this season and has allowed him to dominate, and he has a nice breaking ball as well. This will be the first time Baltimore sees Eovaldi this year.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

There’s a good argument to be made that Bundy is the most exciting player left on this Orioles roster, which is....not great. That’s not to say the righty doesn’t still have big potential, but he does, but he has yet to show it in over 400 career innings. This year, he is striking out over a batter per inning with only two walks per nine, but he’s also getting hit hard. He’s allowed 27 homers in 21 starts and his ERA is up to 4.38, with both his FIP and DRA just under 5.00. If he’s keeping the ball in the yard he can be very good, but that’s been a struggle for him in 2018. The Red Sox have faced him three times already this year, and have struggled a bit. He shut them out over eight innings when they last faced him in June, and scored seven runs (five earned) over 11 23 innings in the other two starts combined.

8/11: David Price vs. Yefry Ramirez, 1:00 PM ET

Price still hasn’t won over a large portion of the fan base, but he’s certainly trending in the right direction on the mound. I’m sure he and the team will take that trade-off. Over his last four starts, including one against the Yankees, he has a 2.00 ERA in 27 innings of work with 23 strikeouts and five walks. Price certainly doesn’t have the stuff he had in his prime and he’s been slow to adjust to a new approach, but he seems to be taking to it more of late. As long as he isn’t overly reliant on his fastball and is commanding the edges of the strike zone — which he’s always been very good at — he should continue to be fine. In his only start against the Orioles this year he almost threw a Maddux (shutout with fewer than 100 pitches) but allowed a two-run homer in the ninth.

Ramirez is a really interesting rookie in Baltimore’s rotation, though that’s not the same as saying he’s a sure thing. The righty has only made seven starts (plus a relief appearance) and he’s pitched to a 5.66 ERA with rough peripherals to match. Watching him, however, he has some intriguing stuff and it’s resulted in a strikeout per inning. Like many young pitchers, his issue is command as he walks a lot of batters and has a tendency to be hit hard. When he shows flashes of command, he looks like he could be a long-term piece for Baltimore. The Red Sox have already seen him twice, scoring three runs both times, one over 4 13 innings and the other over five innings.

8/11: TBD vs. TBD, 7:05 PM ET

So, neither team has announced their plans for the second half of Saturday’s double-header, at least to my knowledge. For the Red Sox, I’m guessing they’ll call up a pitcher to throw at least a few innings to start this second game. Remember, teams get a 26th player for doubleheaders, and while Alex Cora says he prefers it to be a position player I don’t really see it. For one thing, it’s not as if Boston has a ton of position players deserving of a call-up, particularly not one that will help too much. Hector Velazquez was likely lined up to start, but he threw a couple innings on Thursday. I don’t think that precludes him from throwing multiple innings for this game, but it probably takes out the chance of him throwing five or so innings. Ultimately, I think they bring up either William Cuevas or Justin Haley from Pawtucket to throw four innings and then bring in Velazquez for two or three after that.

I have absolutely no clue what the Orioles might do and I’m not going to even venture a guess.

8/12: Chris Sale vs. Alex Cobb, 1:05 PM ET

Sunday is Sale Day as the Red Sox ace returns from his short DL stint. By all accounts his arm feels great and he is only coming back this late to avoid the Phillies series where he’d have to hit and potentially run the bases. Obviously we can’t take everything the team says 100 percent honestly because they don’t really have any incentive to say he’s not feeling great, but they also probably wouldn’t push him if that’s the case. So, there’s really no reason to expect anything besides domination because that’s what he’s done all year. In two starts against the Orioles he has allowed two runs over 11 innings with 17 strikeouts and six walks.

Cobb’s numbers this year look horrible, and that’s because they are. Over his 21 starts this season he has a 5.55 ERA with a 4.75 FIP and a 6.02 DRA, and none of that is good even if you believe the FIP is most indicative of what he’s been able to do. That being said, his full-season numbers may not be a fair evaluation of Cobb at this moment. He was one of those guys who signed very late in the offseason, which took away his spring training. He was awful to start the year, but has been better of late. In seven starts since the start of July he has a much more respectable 3.43 ERA. He doesn’t strike out many batters but he limits his walks and keeps the ball on the ground when he’s at his best. Boston has seen Cobb twice this year, scoring eight (seven earned) in 3 23 innings in one and three in 6 13 innings in the other.

Old Friends

If you’ve forgotten Danny Valencia’s time with the Red Sox, you can be forgiven. It lasted about five minutes. He was traded to Boston from Minnesota back in 2012, and he only played 10 games with the Sox before moving on for greener pastures after the season.

Notable Position Players

Adam Jones is perhaps the last vestige of the good Orioles in recent history, and he refused to waive his no-trade clause at the deadline which is the only reason he’s still here. The outfielder is certainly past his prime and his power is not the same anymore, but he can still run into one every once in awhile and in the meantime puts the ball in play while hitting for a solid average.

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Trey Mancini is having a disappointing follow-up to a surprisingly solid rookie year, as he’s not hitting for the same kind of power as he did in 2017.

Jonathan Villar came back from Milwaukee as part of the Jonathan Schoop deal, and he’s gotten off to a good start with the Orioles. Granted, it’s only seven games so it likely won’t last, but he can do enough damage with his legs that he is someone to watch.

Chris Davis is still having a historically bad year and has been bad at just about everything, though there is still some power in that bat even if it hasn’t shown much this year.

Tim Beckham has been mediocre-to-bad at everything this season besides turning batted balls into hits, at which he’s been average.

Mark Trumbo is somehow the best performing hitter left on this Orioles team. He strikes out some and doesn’t really walk much, but there is still pop in the bat.

Renato Nuñez has had a nice start to his season but it’s only been 15 games for the corner infielder and he’s been carried by a bunch of batted ball luck.

Jace Peterson draws a bunch of walks and....that’s about it.

Bullpen Snapshot

Mychal Givens is the Orioles closer after the team dealt both Zach Britton and Brad Brach at the deadline. There is plenty of talent in this arm and he’s shown some really intriguing flashes throughout his career, but he’s yet to put the full package together. He’s liable to lose command in any outing and things can go south quickly.

Paul Fry is a rookie and arguably the best reliever in this bullpen. He has only appeared in 17 games but he has a really interesting strikeout/ground ball combination.

Miguel Castro is another guy who feels like he should be better than he is and he does have a fine 3.46 ERA. That being said, his peripherals and track record suggest heavy regression is coming there.

Injuries

Colby Rasmus walked away from the game early in July, though it wasn’t an official retirement. If you’ll recall, he did exactly this as a member of the Rays last year, too. He’s probably done for good at this point.

Richard Bleier was the best Orioles reliever for a stretch this year, but he tore his lat against the Red Sox and that will cause him to miss the rest of the year.

Craig Gentry should be back as a depth outfielder for the Orioles relatively soon having begun a rehab a couple of weeks ago.

Gabriel Ynoa has been out all year with shoulder inflammation and it’s still not clear whether or not he’ll be able to pitch this year.

Pedro Araujo is a Rule 5 pick who has been out since early June but should be able to make his way back relatively soon.

Steve Wilkerson had barely played in the majors before going down with an oblique strain in early July.

Weather Forecast

We all know what happened last time the Red Sox travelled to Baltimore, and it could happen again this weekend. It shouldn’t be as bad, but the humidity plaguing the East Coast could result in thunderstorms throughout the series.