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Red Sox vs. Orioles Series Preview

A look at the final series at Fenway in 2020.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Camden Chat

The opponent in one sentence

The Orioles stuck around in the postseason race much longer than anyone would have expected, but things have fallen off of late and they are now closer to last place than to the postseason.

Record

20-34

Head-to-head record

Red Sox 3, Orioles 4

Trend

Down. Like I said, the Orioles have fallen out of the postseason race, and it’s really happened quite swiftly. They are coming off a five-game set against the Rays in which they won only a single game. Overall, they’ve won just three of their last 13 games.

Pitching Matchups

9/22: Nick Pivetta vs. Keegan Akin, 7:30 PM ET

This is the last debut we have to look forward to this year as we get our first look at Pivetta, who was half of the return for Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree. Already 27 with a few years of major-league experience under his belt, the righty isn’t a prospect by any stretch of the imagination. On the other hand, he’s still a bit of an enigma given his big stuff and the lack of results to match. He has a big fastball and a pair of breaking balls that have been impressive in the past, but how he uses his fastball has been detrimental to his success. Things to look for in this debut are where in the zone he’s throwing the heat, and how often he’s utilizing his changeup.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Akin is a former second round pick who is in the midst of his first taste of major-league action. The southpaw started out in the bullpen but quickly made his way to the rotation, where he’s made four starts so far. In those four starts, he’s only allowed an earned run in one of them. He’s not going to go deep into the game, having yet to record more than 16 outs, but he’s been able to rack up strikeouts (25 in 18 23 innings) and his high groundball rate has worked to keep the ball in the yard. Akin allowed a homer in his first career appearance but hasn’t given any up in his five trips to the mound since. He’s coming off a great outing against the Braves in which he tossed five shutout innings with nine strikeouts and one walk. The lefty will throw a low-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup.

9/23: Nathan Evoaldi vs. Dean Kremer, 7:30 PM ET

It’s been a weird year for Eovaldi. Well, it’s been a weird year for everyone, but specifically Eovaldi. He was miscast as the staff ace coming into the year, had a tremendous debut, struggled a bit after that, went to the IL, and has looked solid since returning. In all, he still looks like a guy who can admirably serve a fourth rotation spot in an ideal rotation when healthy, and can probably be stretched into a number three if necessary. This season we’ve seen a return of the great control he showed off in 2018, which will need to stick around into 2021 if he’s going to repeat his success. He still needs to find a way to limit the homers, but overall I’d say it’s been more good than bad for the righty in 2020. This will be his third start against the Orioles this year, and he’s been great in the first two allowing just two runs over 13 innings of work.

Kremer was part of the return for Baltimore when they traded Manny Machado to the Dodgers a couple of summers ago, and he is in the midst of his rookie year right now. It’s only been three starts, but the righty has pitched very well thus far, allowing only three runs over 16 innings with 20 strikeouts and nine walks. The control has certainly been a bit of an issue, but the consistency from start to start has been remarkable. He’s pitched five or six innings in all three outings, allowing one run in each with three walks in each of them and either six or seven walks. He hasn’t been facing bad lineups, either, with two starts against the Yankees and one against the Rays. Kremer will offer a low-to-mid-90s fastball along with a curveball, a cutter and a two-seam.

9/24: Martín Pérez vs. Alex Cobb, 7:30 PM ET

There’s no doubt that Pérez has been the best pitcher for the Red Sox this year. Clearly that’s not a high bar to clear, but he’s been legitimately solid in the rotation, at least by the results. The lefty has pitched to a 3.88 ERA on the year, which is 16 percent better than league-average by park-adjusted ERA. He’s also coming off his best start of the year in which he totally shut down the Yankees over six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and a walk. The peripherals still suggest he’s pitching over his head (he’s striking out just under seven per nine while walking over four per nine), but the results are impossible to deny. This will be his second start against the Orioles this year. He got shelled in the first (his first start of 2020) before pitching very well in the second.

Early on in the season when the Orioles were surprising playoff contenders, Cobb was one of the most surprising players on the roster. He was looking like his prime self from his days in Tampa and providing some veteran stability in Baltimore’s rotation. Things have fallen off since then, though, and he’s now worse than league-average by both ERA and FIP. The righty has allowed at least five runs in three of his last five starts. That’s all good news for the Red Sox offense, but the bad news is they haven’t gotten to him. This will be the third time they’ve seen Cobb in 2020, with one of the previous two coming in that aforementioned five-game stretch. Overall they’ve managed just three runs over 10 13 innings with seven strikeouts and only one walk. The veteran righty will throw a low-90s fastball along with a splitter and a curveball.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Old Friends

José Iglesias was sneaky a huge part of the reason the Red Sox won it all in 2013, making an impact for them early in the year, then netting Jake Peavy in a trade, then making a massive error against them in the ALCS. Since then, he’s been a near-average regular almost every year thanks to plus-plus defense masking his shortcomings at the plate.

Travis Lakins was picked up off waivers by the Orioles this past winter and he’s settled into a middle relief role for them in 2020.

Notable Position Players

Iglesias, as mentioned above, is usually well below-average at the plate. This season, though, he’s been shockingly great. The shortstop has a 152 wRC+ thanks to a sky-high BABIP and a ton of doubles early in the season. He’s also destroyed the Red Sox in both series they’ve played thus far.

Ryan Mountcastle spent his entire minor-league career looking for a position, and that part is still up in the air. As a hitter, though, he can rake, and he has done so as a rookie. He’s currently a 148 wRC+.

DJ Stewart is a three true outcome hitter, meaning he strikes out a ton, walks a whole lot and can hit the ball out of the ballpark with any swing.

Austin Hays was a potential breakout candidate coming into the year, but he’s struggled to hit the ball with authority this summer and has been well below-average because of that fact.

Hanser Alberto is going to put almost everything in play and not hit for much power, leading to a lot of his production being based purely on batted ball luck.

Cedric Mullins is a threat with his speed any time he gets on base, but he’s struggled to get on base at a high enough rate to really make a difference.

Renato Núñez is having his lack of plate discipline catch up to him a bit of late, but when he connect he’s always a threat to put one over the fence.

Pedro Severino was one of the big surprises for Baltimore early in the year, but he’s fallen off a bit since then.

Rio Ruiz just doesn’t get on base enough to make much of an impact at the plate, even with the power he can show when he does make contact.

Bullpen Snapshot

Cesar Valdez has emerged as the Orioles closer to end this season, supplementing his average stuff with very good control and a ground ball tendency that can help limit damage.

Tanner Scott is the top lefty in this bullpen and he has big stuff but can also get into trouble with lapses of command.

Hunter Harvey is a former top prospect who has transitioned into a bullpen role, but he’s struggled to get going after a late start to his season.

Injuries

Trey Mancini has missed the entire season due to his battle with colon cancer. We all hope he will be able to return to the field for the 2021 season.

Anthony Santander was Baltimore’s best player while they were in the playoff conversation, but he went out with an oblique injury in early September and won’t return.

Chris Davis was put on the IL with tendinitis in his knee earlier this month and will miss the rest of the year.

Wade LeBlanc left his start against the Red Sox the last time these two teams met and hasn’t been able to return since.

Shawn Armstrong has been dealing with a back issue and as of a week ago there was still hope he’d return, but time is clearly running out.

Richie Martin fractured his wrist in camp before the season and had to miss the entire season.

Weather Forecast

There shouldn’t be any weather concerns at Fenway this week besides it being on the cooler side as the sun goes down.