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Game #33 Preview: Blue Jays @ Orioles

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After a a couple of series' at home, the Blue Jays once again take to the road to face Baltimore in the first game at Camden Yards since the infamous "Game With No Fans". The Orioles went 1-5 against the two New York teams last week and will be looking to get back to their winning ways with Ubaldo Jimenez talking the hill against Marco Estrada tonight. Jimenez has faced the Blue Jays in 40% of his starts this year and has put together a nice little season thus far. In the fifth game of the season the Jays first faced Ubaldo and I said:

Opposing Sanchez is Ubaldo Jimenez, who the Orioles surely are regretting inking to a four-year $50 million contract before the 2014 season. Aside from just being bad, he is also blocking former highly-ranked prospect Kevin Gausman from starting, although that could change real quick.

Well then.... It has changed real quick but not in the way I expected. Jimenez sits at a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings and looks like one of the best pitchers on the O's staff while Gausman is on the disabled list after a handful of average relief innings to start the year. The murmurs from the Baltimore camp is that Gausman will be stretched out to start when he returns but he'll likely replacing Bud Norris instead of the aforementioned Jimenez.

Ubaldo hasn't done anything extremely different this year as he's still relying on his sinker, slider, splitter mix to generate groundballs, although a BABIP of .194 helps things a lot. For the Dominican, if he's walking hitters he's in trouble but if he limits the walks down he's actually quite dominate. With his mechanical changes bringing his BB% back to under his career average, maybe the O's won't be regretting his free agent contract after all.

Here's what he's thrown in each start this year with the righty allowing just one hit over seven innings in his first appearance against the Jays and four earned runs over five in his next start against them.

Jimenez Pitches

With a ground ball rate of 62.3% in his five starts this year it's clear Jimenez is frustrating hitters with his location and as you can see below, righties aren't getting anything they can really pull to left field in the air. For power hitters like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion who pull a lot of their home runs this spells trouble if Ubaldo is locating well tonight.

First his pitch location:

Jimenez graph

The result of this approach to righties:

Source: FanGraphs

Hopeful Lineup

  1. Devon Travis 2B
  2. Josh Donaldson 3B
  3. Jose Bautista DH
  4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B
  5. Russell Martin C
  6. Kevin Pillar CF
  7. Chris Colabello LF
  8. Ezequiel Carrera RF
  9. Ryan Goins SS

Bullpen Usage

This bullpen is extremely well-rested after some strong performances from their starting pitching and should have no problem covering Marco Estrada if things go south tonight. The Orioles long relievers on the other hand were used heavily yesterday after Bud Norris had another stinker of a start meaning that Ubaldo Jimenez will be counted on to go deep today (something he's struggled to do consistently this season).


Brett Cecil

One Day Ago: 1.0 IP, 16 pitches
Five Days Ago: 1.0 IP, 15 pitches

Steve Delabar

Three Days Ago: 1.0 IP, 14 pitches

Jeff Francis Six Days Ago: 1.1 IP, 20 pitches
Liam Hendriks

Two Days Ago: 3.0 IP, 34 pitches

Aaron Loup

Three Days Ago: 1.0 IP, 12 pitches
Five Days Ago: 0.2 IP, 16 pitches

Roberto Osuna

Two Days Ago: 1.0 IP, 12 pitches
Five Days Ago: 2.1 IP, 27 pitches

Ryan Tepera

One Day Ago: 2.0 IP, 19 pitches
Five Days Ago (Buffalo): 2.1 IP, 24 pitches

Find The Link

Find the link between Ubaldo Jimenez and the Iowa Cubs 31-year-old backup catcher.

If the umpire is giving the outside strike to right-handed hitters tonight the Blue Jays will be in big trouble. Let's hope that doesn't happen!