Series Preview - Orioles (18-27) @ Red Sox (21-23)
What's cooler than a four game series at home over Memorial Day Weekend? A five game series at home over Memorial Day Weekend with a double header on Saturday.
Friday, May 27th 7:10 PM - Garrett Whitlock (1-1 3.58 ERA) vs Kyle Bradish (1-3 5.74 ERA)
Saturday, May 28th 12:10 PM - Nathan Eovaldi (1-2 4.10 ERA) vs TBD
Saturday, May 28th 6:10 PM - TBD (but probably Josh Winckowski) vs TBD
Sunday, May 29th 1:35 PM - Nick Pivetta (3-4 4.25 ERA) vs Bruce Zimmermann (2-2 3.78 ERA)
Monday, May 30th 7:10 PM - Rich Hill (1-2 3.86 ERA) vs Tyler Wells (1-4 4.30 ERA)
Last time we faced the Orioles I almost swallowed a cyanide pill to forget what happened. To remind you, because I'm a masochist and a bad person, the Sox took game 1, then Eovaldi pitched his balls off in game 2 for 7 innings of no run ball, only for Barnes to hand them the tying run in the 8th and then HeroSaw quite literally chucked the game into left field in extras. Then we lost the third game 5 to 9. I didn't have to look those up because I watched game 2 at a girl's house who I have not spoken to since because apparently "I wouldn't stop yelling about the Red Sox", and game 3 I watched in my basement sick with probably COVID. But like I said before the White Sox series, that was then, this is now. It was never going to work with that girl anyways because she didn't think Xander was more gorgeous than her, an indisputable fact that I pointed out many times. We are a totally different Red Sox team, I'm a totally different man, and we get a 5 game set at home. Lets dive in.
Friday- Garrett Whitlock gets the ball as he tries to recover from the worst start of his career against the Mariners in which he allowed 5 earned in 3 innings off of 10 hits. That was weird to type, I don't like being hard on our city's favorite Rule 5 draft pick. Like with most teams, he has good numbers as a reliever against the Orioles. 4 hits allowed in 18 ABs, 1 walk and 7 Ks. No XBHs. Their top hitters are Austin Hays (.783 OPS), Trey Mancini (.731 OPS), and Anthony Santander (.720 OPS also leads the team with 7 HRs). Mountcastle and Odor can also hurt you, but have somewhat underperformed to this point in the season. All of this is adding up to Whitlock maybe figuring some things out as a starter. With 5 games this series, we need more out of Whitlock than what he has given us in most of his starts. I would like to see him go at least 6 innings in this one.
The Sox will get Kyle Bradish. He has actually very similar numbers to Whitlock against our lineup. He had the lone loss for the Orioles in our first series last month, but that was really on the offense and not on Bradish. He went 6 IP, allowing 3 runs (2 earned), walking 1 and picking up 2 Ks. The 2 earned came off the bat of Christian Arroyo for his first home run of the season. Bradish's advanced numbers have been dogshit (I think I say dogshit too much. Pitchers are either dogshit or Raffy Devers hit the dogshit out of a baseball. gonna try to mix that one up, but Bradish's percentile rankings are dogshit):
The number I am most looking forward to seeing in action is that Avg Exit Velo. That's home run city baby. I think that is most going to benefit our core three obviously, but also Verdugo. He has been right on it lately, but hasn't quite broken through yet. 2 doubles and 2 singles in Thursday's game with Exit Velos of 111, 106, 98 and 98. He gets those launch angles up just a little bit and he'll send some fans home with a souvenir. I got the Sox +1.5 and am parlaying it with the Celtics ML (we root for wins, not covers in the playoffs). Obligatory:
Saturday Double Headers are a thing of beauty. We have Eovaldi and what looks like Winckowski going. I don't even need to get into Eovaldi because I already touched on his last start against the O's, plus he's coming off of a career strikeout high, so he is going to shove. Winckowski is going to be very interesting. He is part of the outstanding group of young pitchers we have waiting in the farm system to break through that includes Brayan Bello, Brandon Walter, Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold, and Jay Groome. Aside from Seabold, this group is looking at 2023 to make their debut, but Winckowski (I'm just gonna call him Winck because that's easier) is ready now. He has promising numbers in the minors and has earned this opportunity. 7 games started, 31 IP, 34 Ks, and a 0.85 WHIP this season. I say it is going to be "interesting" though because according to soxprospects.com, they think his ceiling is as a backend starter, this could just be an opener. We know Cora will keep him on a short leash and will pull him the moment it starts to go downhill, I just hope that we can squeeze at least 4 out of Winck and send him out for the 5th. He features a fastball that hangs out around 94-96, a sinker at 92-93, a slider and a changeup. Winck pitches to weak contact, as his fastball and changeup don't have a ton of movement. Based on what the guys at SP have seen, when he comes up for a more permanent role it will be similar to what we tried with Crawford, as a multi-inning reliever. At that point I hope the corresponding move is send Barnes to the fucking mailroom for the remainder of his contract.
Sunday we have the distinct pleasure of watching Nick Pivetta continue his Cy Young campaign. He's looking for revenge in this start, as he only lasted 4.1 innings last time, giving up 3 ERs on 6 hits. Even with the tough time last month, he has some pretty decent numbers against O's, with a .235 AVG and .447 SLG. Mountcastle is his all or nothing guy, he has 6 Ks against him, but Mountcastle also has 2 HRs and a double in 15 ABs. Cedric Mullins similarly is 7 for 18 with a double and a home run, but also has 7 Ks. Mancini is 1 for 14, but that hit is a home run. Austin Hays is 0-13, which is sick as fuck considering he's their best hitter right now. The Sox will face Bruce Zimmermann whose name pisses me off far more than it should to read. That is too many similar looking consanants in his last name. mmrmnn. gross. Also his first name is Bruce, and that just reminds me of a step dad that tries to get too close to his adult step children. Fucking weirdo. Devers, Kiké, and Arroyo are .333 against him, with Devers and JD both having a home run. Xander is 1 for 9, Dugie is 0-8 with 3 Ks, and Dalbec is 0-8 with 4 Ks. I don't like any of that. Again though, we see more awful percentile rankings:
So looking at this, he is going to find the strike zone, no doubt about it. That's a plus for a pitcher. Only downside is he doesn't get shit past batters, so he will get crushed. Here's a heatmap of where his pitches have been going this season:
That fastball up and in is going to be very enticing for our righties with quick hands to try and get it over the monster, and our lefties to take oppo off the wall. Then when his changeup comes it is either going to dive down low, or hang right down the pipe. Any professional hitter should be able to smash that ball. The fastball sits at 91 and the changeup only falls down to 85, and he mixes in a slider and curve that he will throw a combined 30% of the time. The Sox should dominate this guy, but for some reason haven't. For the third time though, this is a new Sox team. I don't think we get off to a hot start against Zimmermann, but we will have a big inning later on. I think JBJ gets another home run for no other reason other than it is a home day game.
Lastly, we have Monday's matchup in which Rich Hill takes on Tyler Wells. I think at this point we know what to expect from Rich Hill. He is going to be solid twice around the rotation, then start to tail off a little bit the third time, and then we move on to Houck. The Orioles are 9 for 49 (.184 AVG), with a double and 2 home runs. The double and a home run come off the bat of Chris Owings who may be the most forgettable player to wear a Red Sox uniform in my lifetime (2019), and the other home run is from Trey Mancini. Outside of those 2 batters, the O's are 4 for 29 with no XBHs and 8 Ks. They have seen Houck better than Hill, having a .289 AVG, but also have a .289 SLG against him, so it has been all singles. Their batters pretty much all have one hit, and Mountcastle and Odor have 2 and 3 hits respectively. He also has 13 Ks and 3 walks. I think the 2 of them will look very similar to how they did Wednesday night against the White Sox, possibly going 8 or 9 if the situation calls for it. I feel very confident if that is the case. The Sox face Tyler Wells, who is probably the best pitcher we'll face this series, maybe? And guess what?? We are fucking rubbish against him!! 4 for 23. BAD. Silver lining: 75% of our hits are home runs. Good! Xander, JD and Kiké have those HRs as their only hits, and Vazquez has the other. No one else has a hit. He actually is very good at pitching to contact, with a 94 MPH fastball, 87 MPH slider and changeup that he'll throw interchangeably 22 and 21% of the time, and a curveball that comes 15% of the time. He won't K a lot of guys, with 25 strikeouts over 37.2 innings, and he won't walk a lot of guys, with a BB% in the 93rd percentile. I'm going under this game and not really thinking about it considering I will be nursing a disgusting hangover.
Also one quick note, this is the best weekend of the year. Sun shining, booze flowing, and the unofficial start of summer. That being said, take a moment and remember the sacrifice it took to get here. We are not a perfect country, not by any means. But this country, and the freedom it offers, affords us the opportunity to try to be better. Remember those who gave their lives to get to the point where we can keep trying. Have a good MDW folks, let's hope this is the last preview I have to write for a below .500 team.