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Red Sox vs. Orioles Series Preview

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The last one of 2019.

Boston Red Sox v Texas Rangers Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Camden Chat

The Opponent in one sentence

The Orioles will once again finish this season among the worst teams in baseball and are one loss away from clinching the number two overall pick in next year’s draft.

Record

52-107

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 11, Orioles 5

Trend

For them? Up. The Orioles certainly haven’t been blowing the doors off their opponents to close out the season, but they have been playing solid baseball against bad competition over the last week or so. Baltimore is coming off a series in which they took one of three against the Blue Jays with one of the losses coming in 15 innings, and before that they had taken two of three from the Mariners. For Baltimore, a 3-3 stretch over six games is trending upwards.

Pitching Matchups

9/27: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Asher Wojciechowski, 7:10 PM ET

Nathan Eovaldi, like everyone else, is looking to end his season on a strong note. It seems extra important for the righty, whose first full season in Boston has clearly not gone according to plan. Eovaldi spent much of the year on the IL, pitched out of the bullpen for a bit and hasn’t been able to gain any momentum since returning to the rotation. He is, however, coming off his first quality start since April and his first start of six or more innings in that time as well. He’s also allowed three or fewer runs in three of his four starts this month. Obviously that’s not a super high bar, especially considering his innings totals have generally been low, but he’s at least given the Red Sox chances to win most of his starts of late. Eovaldi is going to be a big key for the team next year, and having him feel good heading into the winter can’t be a bad thing.

The Orioles start this series with righty Asher Wojciechowski, whose name I can actually spell without looking up which is a huge personal victory. That is probably the most notable piece of information here. The 30-year-old has not been good this year, pitching to a 5.31 ERA, a 5.58 FIP and a 5.80 DRA over 76 13 innings for Baltimore in 2019. He gets a decent amount of strikeouts, but it’s not elite stuff and the command is just too erratic. He has, however, pitched extremely well against Boston this year, allowing only two runs over 11 23 innings with 14 strikeouts and five walks. That includes a start in July when he tossed 7 13 shutout innings with ten strikeouts, two walks and only one hit. The righty will feature a low-90s fastball, a curveball and a slider.

9/28: Jhoulys Chacín vs. John Means, 1:05 PM ET

Chacín is a really interesting name heading into the offseason as one of the more intriguing cheap options poised to be available in free agency. The righty has been undeniably bad this year, both with the Brewers earlier in the season and since coming to the Red Sox this month. He was, however, good in each of the previous two seasons and even started Opening Day for Milwaukee this season. Opening Day starts is not a great measure of talent, of course, but to do so for a team that made the NLCS last year and will be in the postseason again this year is at least notable. I will be disappointed if he’s re-signed as the team’s fifth starter for 2020, but among the lower tier options he might be at the top of the list.

Means will forever be able to call himself a major-league All-Star, and that is something no one can ever take away from him. The left-handed rookie has somewhat quietly been very good for Baltimore this year, tossing 150 innings with a very good 3.54 ERA (133 ERA+). Now, the peripherals are much lower with a 4.34 FIP and a 4.57 DRA, but even those are still solid numbers in today’s run enivorment. Means is a flyball pitcher but he’s been good for a lot of the time and keeping the contact weak and he doesn’t give up a lot of walks. This will be the fifth time the Red Sox have seen Means this year, and they have yet to score more than two runs in any of their previous four matchups. The southpaw will feature a low-90s fastball, a changeup and a slider.

9/29: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. TBD, 3:05 PM ET

This is the big one. Expect the Red Sox to have all of their regulars in for the 2019 finale as Rodriguez is going to push hard for that 20th win on the season. We’ve said all their is to say about that at this point, and it’s going to be a fun reason to watch an otherwise meaningless game to close out the season. It goes without saying that this season will be a massive success for Rodriguez with or without the win, but he certainly deserves that accolade.

The Orioles have not announced a starter for this game. It could be Dylan Bundy, but I don’t want to waste your time (or mine) doing a full writeup only to have the matchup change. That’s happened too many times this year.

Old Friends

Chandler Shepherd was drafted by the Red Sox as a 13th round pick in 2014 and was good enough to be added to the 40-man roster ahead of the 2018 season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Things fizzled after that, though, and he was eventually designated for assignment by Boston earlier this year. He had an impossibly short stint with the Cubs before landing with Baltimore.

Notable Position Players

Trey Mancini has been the Orioles best player this year, All-Star bid or not. He has hit for big power while showing off solid plate discipline en route to a 133 wRC+. There haven’t been a lot of positive developments on the major-league roster for the O’s this year, but Mancini qualifies.

Jonathan Villar has been the Orioles best player this year by fWAR. I’ll still take Mancini’s bat here, but the infielder has been an above-average hitter as well while providing defense at a more premium position as well as gamechanging abilities with his legs.

Austin Hays has been red-hot this month after a late call-up, posting a 141 wRC+ with high contact rates and big power to boot.

Renato Núñez is the prototypical solid Orioles hitter these days. He’ll strike out some and doesn’t walk a ton but the power is enough to get him by.

Anthony Santander is the same thing, with fewer walks and more singles.

Hanser Alberto has been the opposite of that. The infielder puts just about everything in play with a three percent walk rate and a nine percent strikeout rate, and relies almost entirely on singles for his value.

Rio Ruiz hasn’t hit for the power to be included in the Núñez/Santander tier.

DJ Stewart has been awful in a small sample size, hitting for very little power with average plate discipline across the board.

Chance Sisco is one of three catchers who could be used this weekend. He’s got solid upside, but his strikeout rate north of 30 percent limits the ceiling at the plate.

Bullpen Snapshot

Mychal Givens is a potential trade chip this coming offseason and is your prototypical big-arm reliever with command problems.

Richard Bleier has long gotten by with an extreme command-oriented approach, but it’s failed him this year as the weak contact just hasn’t been consistent enough.

Hunter Harvey is a former top prospect who just recently started pitching out of the bullpen. There are still big questions, but the stuff is not one of them.

Injuries

Alex Cobb missed basically all of the season with a couple different injuries, but is expected to be ready for spring training.

Josh Rogers went down in June with a UCL strain and was never able to come back.

Weather Forecast

It’s looking like it will be a nice final weekend at Fenway, with the sun shining and temperatures in the 70s and 80s during the day.