We start a 3-game series with the Orioles tonight, at Rogers Centre. At the moment we are a game in front of the O's, who are in 4th place, just 3 games back of the division leading Rays.
The Orioles are 4th in the AL in runs scored per game at 4.47 (about a 1 less a game than we are scoring) and are 6th in the AL in runs allowed per game at 3.92 (while we are 12th in the AL at 4.31). Up to this point we are 6-3 against the Orioles. We won the first series against them, in Baltimore, 2-1, then swept the series in Toronto 3-0 (you might remember Buck Showalter wasn't a fan of our new turf) and then lost our last series against them in Baltimore 1-2.
Mark Brown of Camden Chat and I have exchanged questions for the fourth time this season (I'm running out of questions). We don't play them again until September.
The Orioles sent Wei-Yin Chen to the minors, not wanting a lefty facing the Jays. What do Orioles fans think of that move? I can imagine Chen isn't thrilled with the idea.
The main justification the Orioles offered for that move is that they wanted to give Chen a chance to relax from some "general fatigue" - with the Orioles-owned MASN network helpfully trotting out things like Chen's poor results in starts after he went 7+ IP the time before. It was something like a 4.50 ERA in those games. I guess maybe that's a possibility, but I think more likely you've sussed out the real reason, they wanted to have him not face the Jays. This is Chen's fourth season. His next start will be his 100th MLB start. He has faced the Jays four times.
For the most part, I think that Orioles fans feel like the Chen option thing was kind of a dick move that probably has some strategic value - how much value is up for debate. Another reason they've done what they've done with Chen here is to avoid having to make a decision about which of their corner outfielders they want to DFA. Now they may not have to do that until Chen returns in ten days. A lot of the little roster moves in Dan Duquette's tenure are kind of dick moves with strategic value, but the strategy is usually more readily apparent and the dick moves aren't usually this, well, dick-ish.
It looks like Adam Jones is having just a great season and he always seems to hit us well. He's missed a couple of games with an injury. What's the injury? Any chance we'll be lucky and he'll miss the series in Toronto?
Jones seems to have banged his shoulder while diving for a catch in a recent game and he had most of the Phillies series off. They didn't even make him pinch hit in Thursday's 2-1 loss. That could be because they're really committed to giving him three full games off to rest or it could be a cause for panic and a sign that he's headed for the DL. Hopefully not the latter. I don't expect that he'll be missing this series. Sorry! It is a possibility, though, if it turns out the injury was just serious enough that they need to DL him but want to have the back-dated game be as early as possible so he can come back sooner.
Can you give us a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers the Blue Jays are likely to see? I guess we are going to miss out on my favorite O's starter Bud Norris.
The scheduled starting pitchers for the series as of this moment are Mike Wright, Kevin Gausman, and Chris Tillman. Wright is a 6'6" righty who is mostly going to live off of a ground ball-generating sinker. He was successful in doing that in his first two big league starts, which came against the Angels and Marlins, but things haven't gone so well for him in the three starts since. I'm kind of expecting the Jays lineup to carve him up like a Thanksgiving turkey. Do you have turkey for Thanksgiving in Canada? Whatever you have - he'll get carved up like that.
Gausman is one of the O's top young pitchers who you probably heard about when he was getting prospect hype, since he can throw like 99. That's awesome. But the Orioles keep jerking him around from the majors to the minors, the rotation to the bullpen, and it's really obnoxious. This will be his first start of the year and for all they treat him with kid gloves at times, throwing him against the Jays is really throwing him right to the wolves. He likes to try to beat people up in the zone, and when that doesn't work, home runs result.
Tillman was probably the Orioles' best starter last year. That is not the case this year as he is suffering from a serious lack of command through a rough April and May. Those months have tended to be bad for him in his career. He hasn't showed much sign of breaking out of that struggle here midway through June.
I seem to always ask you about Matt Wieters, but I see he's back playing, how has he looked? Have all the injuries effected his defense at all? Do you think he'll ever be the player we expected?
Wieters hasn't been back for very long. So far he's been everything that O's fans could have hoped he would be in his return at the plate. It's a small sample size of only 35 PA, but he's kicking over a 1.000 OPS, and at least so far has continued to look good from the left side of the plate, which was always a problem for him in past years. He's never going to be the player who got Matt Wieters Facts hype when he was a prospect. I do think he'll be back in the conversation for the league's best catchers by the time the season's out. Convenient for him, since he's about to be a free agent!
I'm not sure his defense is quite back to what it was pre-surgery, but that's small sample size too. He's only had two runners take off on him in seven games behind the plate. He did not throw out either one.
With the MLB draft a recent memory, are there any Orioles picks that you are particularly happy with?
The O's seem to have gone under-slot with their compensation and second round picks in order to have money to draft some high schoolers later on in the top ten rounds. I'm particularly interested in eighth rounder Seamus Curran, a tall lefty slugger (who also played on the hockey team) from a Massachusetts high school. An ESPN Boston article about him from earlier in the spring described him as "a jolly lumberjack with a menacing scowl" which I think sounds just perfect.
Another guy who seems exciting is seventh rounder Gray Fenter, who only started pitching a couple of years ago. The Orioles really like his arm and like that there's not much mileage on it. If they are right about either one of these guys, this draft will look pretty good in retrospect.
The AL East is every close with just the Red Sox not in the race at the moment. If I forced you to choose one, which other team would you expect to fall off the pace? Who do you see battling it out to the end?
I've been waiting for the Rays to fall out of the picture all year so far. They haven't done it yet, although I don't know how. There's like nobody on that team! I guess that's the power of being the Rays for you. Maybe it'll be a four-team race all the way to the end. I definitely don't think anyone will run away with this division like the Orioles did last year. I just hope the O's are one of the teams that's battling all the way to the end.
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