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Red Sox at Orioles Series Preview

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A look ahead to this weekend’s three-game set in Baltimore

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation Blog

Camden Chat

The Opponent in one sentence

The Orioles are tied for the worst record in baseball with the light at the end of the tunnel being....far off in the distance.

Record

21-46

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 4, Orioles 3

Trend

Down. It’s always down.

Pitching Matchups

Note: As of this writing, the Red Sox have TBA listed as probables for all three games. These are the pitchers who would be on normal schedule to pitch, but the actual matchups are subject to change.

6/14: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Andrew Cashner, 7:05 PM ET

Rodriguez will (likely) get the first game in this three-game series as he travels to take on his former organization in their home park. The Red Sox lefty has been up and down of late, just as he has this entire season and just as he has really over his entire career. Rodriguez is coming off a tough outing his last time out against the Rays in which he pitched into the sixth inning but allowed four runs in a losing effort. Prior to that, however, he had allowed three runs over his previous two starts combined. He has also been limiting his walks recently, walking only three batters combined over his previous three outings. Rodriguez has faced Baltimore once before this in 2019, and he was coming off a couple rough outings at that time as well. He ended up tossing 6 23 innings in which he allowed only two runs in that outing to help spark a nice run through the end of April.

Cashner is not the most overpowering pitcher, despite having a mid-90s fastball, but he is liable to get results in any given outing. Just his last time out, for example, the righty allowed just one run over six innings on the road against the Astros. Even with Houston hurting a bit, that’s no joke. Of course, he hasn’t really been able to do this consistently. On the season, he has made 13 starts and has pitched to a 4.73 ERA with a 4.81 FIP and a 5.61 DRA. Cashner will get some ground balls, but he struggles to miss bats and has average-at-best control while also giving up a few more home runs than you’d like. Boston has struggled a bit in their previous two looks at the righty, though, managing just four runs total over 11 innings. Cashner will feature the aforementioned mid-90s fastball along with a changeup, a curveball and a slider.

Cashner got scratched with a blister minutes after I finished writing this Thursday night. I’m leaving this here because I’m mad online.

Texas Rangers v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images

6/15: Chris Sale vs. Dylan Bundy, 4:05 PM ET

Chris Sale is good, you guys. I think we all know that. Another thing we all know is that, more often than not, when there has been an issue for the Red Sox ace it has often not been on him. Instead, it’s been the offense that has let him down far too often. He’s done his job, pitching to a 1.99 ERA since the start of May with 88 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 54 13 innings, but he’s only 2-2 in that span. In his only other meeting with the Orioles this year he allowed just one run over eight innings with 14 strikeouts and no walks.

Once upon a time, Bundy was one of the more promising young pitchers in the game and a guy Baltimore hoped they’d build their rotation around. Instead, injuries and underperformance have piled up over the years and he’s never been able to harness his massive potential. The righty has made 13 starts in 2019, pitching to a 4.50 ERA, a 5.15 FIP and a 5.79 DRA. He’s striking out a batter per inning, which is nice, but his control comes and goes and he has a tendency to leave pitches in the zone and getting hit hard. He’s already allowed 15 homers this year, for example. To Bundy’s credit, however, he has been better since the start of May with a 3.03 ERA in that time with six homers allowed in seven outings. This will be the first time Boston sees the 26-year-old this year. He will feature a low-90s fastball along with a slider and a changeup.

6/16: TBA vs. John Means, 1:05 PM ET

Sunday is the mystery spot in the Red Sox rotation as they are still trying to find someone to consistently fill that spot. Darwinzon Hernandez took it last time, but given the control issues he showed it’s doubtful he’ll get another chance there. I honestly have no idea who will get this chance. Mike Shawaryn could be a choice, but the Red Sox seem to like him out of the bullpen. My guess, and it is strictly that, is that Brian Johnson will be back to make this start. Pure speculation, though.

Means is very quietly putting together a potential Rookie of the Year campaign in the Orioles rotation. The southpaw is a bit of a late-bloomer, having turned 26 about a month into the season, but he’s done well with the chances he’s gotten. After starting the year in the bullpen, he quickly got a chance as a starter and hasn’t let up. Means has tossed 60 innings since converting to the rotation, pitching to a 2.70 ERA in that time while allowing a .669 OPS. The lefty is likely getting the benefit of some luck as both his FIP and his DRA are about a run-and-a-half better than his ERA, but he’s getting results and for the time being that’s all that matters. Means has allowed a total of two runs over 12 innings in his two starts against the Red Sox this year. He will feature a fastball that sits around 92 mph along with a changeup and a slider.

Old Friends

None

Notable Position Players

Trey Mancini has easily been the best player on the Orioles this year and is pretty much a shoe-in to get their All-Star bid next month when that season rolls around. The righty is hitting for big power while keeping his walk and strikeouts rates close to league-average as well.

Jonathan Villar has been having a solid season in his own right at the top of Baltimore’s lineup. He’s only been about average with the bat, but he’s done so while also providing big value with his legs.

Renato Núñez is the only other — other than Mancini — above-average hitter by wRC+ in the Orioles lineup. His plate discipline leaves something to be desired, but he makes up for it with big power.

Anthony Santander has only played in six games this year but is off to a hot start with great plate discipline and huge power.

Chance Sisco has also only played in six games, but he’s overcome a big strikeout rate thanks to power and patience.

Rio Ruiz is drawing walks at an above-average rate and his strikeout rate is fine, but he has struggled to hit the ball with much authority this year.

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Chris Davis is still having a historically bad year at the plate, but he snapped his skid against the Red Sox last time they faced and turned that into a mini hot streak.

Hanser Alberto is going to put the ball in play and won’t hit for much power, but all things considered he’s been a solid player who can handle the middle infield.

Keon Broxton was acquired by Baltimore last month, and he can hit the ball a long way in any given at bat but contact is a major issue for the outfielder.

Bullpen Snapshot

Mychal Givens is the releiver for the Orioles with the most promise, but he’s failed to put it together on a consistent basis in his career. His 4.82 ERA and 4.72 FIP this year don’t look great, but for whatever it may be worth his DRA is much more favorable at 2.94.

Shawn Armstrong has had some moments this season and is striking out batters at a solid rate, but lapses in command have hurt him.

Richard Bleier is the top lefty in this bullpen who handles late-inning situations. He doesn’t miss bats like a typical high-leverage arm, however, instead relying on great control and weak contact.

Injuries

Dwight Smith Jr. has had a big year for Baltimore but is currently out with a concussion. There’s a chance he’ll be back this weekend.

Alex Cobb went down with a lumbar strain in April, but things turned out worse than it seemed and he’s undergone season-ending hip surgery.

Mark Trumbo had been on a rehab assignment but was shut down earlier this week and will not be able to try again for at least another week.

DJ Stewart collided with Alberto at the start of the month and hit the IL with a sprained ankle.

Nate Karns has been out all year with a forearm injury. His timetable is unclear.

Weather Forecast

It’s looking like it should be a nice summer weekend in Baltimore coming up. The only potential issue could be on Sunday as thunderstorms will be “on the prowl” according to Accuweather, but that’s in the evening.