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Series preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Baltimore Orioles

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If you’ve been frustrated with Cleveland this year, imagine being a Baltimore fan.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Indians split the quick 2-game set with White Sox, which was nice. They probably should have won both games, but that’s too much to ask of the 2019 Cleveland Indians. But at least the offense came alive in the second game to give some potential hope for things to come. Hopefully the bats keep rolling as they head back home to welcome the Baltimore Orioles into town for four games this weekend. There’s only one team in baseball worse than the Orioles this season (the Marlins). Just how bad has Baltimore been in 2019?

Team in a box

2019 Baltimore Orioles

Record 14-28
Record 14-28
Runs Scored 163
Runs Allowed 242
Run Differential -79
Streak L2
AVG .236
OBP .296
SLG .390
OPS .686
wRC+ 82
K/9 7.84
BB/9 3.54

It’s not noted in this table, but it should be noted that the Baltimore Orioles’ pitching staff is the only pitching staff in all of baseball giving up more than 2 home runs per game (2.16 HR/9). The next closest is the Cardinals at 1.57 HR/9. So if you’ve been waiting for the Tribe to start hitting dingers, you may want to tune in this weekend.

Projected starters

Thursday, May 16 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Dan Straily (v. Trevor Bauer)

Dan Straily has had one good season (2016 in Cincinnati) surrounded by a bunch of mediocre to awful years. This season, so far, it’s one of the awful years. In 27.1 innings pitched so far, Straily has allowed 25 earned runs while walking 12 and striking out 15 (ERA+ 54). He’s got a below-average fourseam (90 mph) paired with a circle change (84 mph), a slider (84 mph), and curve (77 mph). None of his pitches really stand out (which makes sense given his results so far in 2019). His most recent start came on May 10 against the Los Angeles Angels; in that game, Straily went 4.1 innings and allowed 6 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 4. Straily has not pitched into the 6th inning this season and he is one of the many home run-prone pitchers on the Baltimore staff (3.0 HR/9).

Friday, May 17 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Dylan Bundy (v. Jefry Rodriguez)

Dylan Bundy has pitched better than Dan Straily this year, but that’s not saying much. Across 40.2 innings, Bundy has allowed 24 earned runs while walking 16 and striking out 40 (ERA+ 83). He has a good “rising” fourseam (91 mph) that he pairs with his ground ball-inducing change (84 mph). His slider (81 mph) is good at getting hitters to swing and miss, while his curve (75 mph) can get both ground balls and whiffs. Bundy’s most recent start came on May 11 against the Angels; in that game, he went 5.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 2. He’s also known to give up the long ball frequently (2.4 HR/9).

Saturday, May 18 4:10 p.m. ET: LHP John Means (v. Shane Bieber)

Hey wait a minute, I was told that the pitching staff on the Orioles was a raging dumpster fire on top of a larger raging dumpster fire. What’s this excellent left handed starter doing in this rotation?

Anyway, John Means has been exceptionally good this season. It’s his first full season in the majors (he pitched 3.1 innings in relief last season for his MLB debut), but he’s given the Baltimore faithful something to look forward to every fifth day. In 38.2 innings so far this year, Means has allowed just 10 earned runs while walking 10 and striking out 33 (ERA+ 190). He’s got a fourseam (92 mph) for whiffs, a change (80 mph) for flyballs, and a slider (84 mph) for grounders. He’ll toss a curve (76 mph) in there from time to time, and they’ll usually result in a flyball. His most recent start came on May 12 against the Angels; in that game, Means went 6.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 4 hits while walking 3 and striking out 4. Means is not part of Baltimore’s home run problem (1.2 HR/9).

Sunday, May 19 1:10 p.m. ET: TBD (v. TBD)

FanGraphs believes that TBD will actually morph into Josh Rogers come Sunday. Hopefully they’re right. He made his debut in 2018 and pitched in 11.2 innings across 3 starts. This year, he’s only pitched in one game in relief (it lasted 3.2 innings and he gave up 5 earned runs). He’s got a fourseam (91 mph), change (83 mph), and slider (81 mph) that all get hitters to hit a lot of flyballs. They often leave the yard (he has a career HR/9 of 2.9 across 15.1 innings). The home run bug didn’t seem to plague him in the minors, however, so it may just be a matter of time before Rogers adjusts to major league hitting and can keep the balls in the yard.

Lineup highlights

  • RF Trey Mancini: The Baltimore offense is virtually as bad as the Cleveland offense, so it’s hard to find players who are excelling. However, one such player is Trey Mancini. Mancini has bounced back from his down year in 2018 and is hitting with authority in 2019, making him easily the best hitter on the team. Across his 169 plate appearances so far, Mancini is slashing .308/.355/.545 (wRC+ 137). He’s tied with his teammate Dwight Smith Jr. in home runs, a team-leading 8. He’s still striking out 22.5% of the time, so he has some holes in his swing. But if you don’t miss them, he will punish pitches.
  • C Pedro Severino: The Orioles must have seen something in Severino that the Nationals didn’t because he was truly terrible last season. He was a part-time catcher for Washington in 2018 and he slashed a horrific .168/.254/.247 (wRC+ 32) across 213 plate appearances. He’s splitting time this season with Austin Wynns, but Severino is getting the bulk of the time behind the dish and he’s made the most of it. Across 73 plate appearances this season, Severino is slashing .238/.333/.508 (wRC+ 124). He had 2 home runs all of last season; he already has 5 this year in a third of the time. Add in the fact that he’s walking a bit more than usual (11.0% v. 9.3% career), and you’ve got the makings of a solid offensive year for Pedro Severino.
  • LF Dwight Smith Jr.: As mentioned above, Smith Jr. is leading the Orioles (along with Mancini) in home runs with 8. For his first time as a starter in the majors, that’s pretty good. He’s not just hitting for power, however; across 167 plate appearances thus far, Smith Jr. is slashing .271/.317/.484 (wRC+ 112).

Baltimore Orioles roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Orioles?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    4
    (23 votes)
  • 47%
    3
    (49 votes)
  • 22%
    2
    (23 votes)
  • 5%
    1
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    0
    (2 votes)
103 votes total Vote Now