The Orioles come into this series playing similar baseball to the Jays of late. Their pitching has been very good, with a 3.02 ERA in September, but their bats have been slumping a bit, with a .235/.305/.414 line. They’ve averaged 4.1 runs per game in September.
With the Wild Card game tonight (8:00 Eastern) I sent of some questions to Mark Brown of Camden Chat.
Were you surprised at the choice of Chris Tillman over Ubaldo Jimenez as starting pitcher? What do you expect from him?
I was surprised by it at first because the recent performance by Jimenez was definitely better than Tillman. The O's had Tillman on the disabled list for a couple of weeks and he was just OK after coming off of the DL. Jimenez is on a solid run of starts. But, on the other hand, Tillman is the guy who has been getting it done for the team for several years now, he was the #1 starter back on Opening Day, and, not that it means much to bloggers like us, but he did lead the team with 16 wins and that probably means something to them.
I'm a bit nervous about Tillman although I think that most of that is because he struggled heavily against the Jays last season.
My Jays have had a rather bumpy road to the Wild Card, causing many of us to wonder if they would get here. How has the Orioles run to the post season been? Have you felt the same swings of happiness and depression that we did?
The 2016 season has definitely been a rollercoaster ride for the Orioles as well. Over the last few weeks I started experiencing the stages of grief one at a time because I was pretty convinced that the O's season was heading down the drain and it was just a matter of time - especially once they fell out of a playoff spot and needed to get back ahead of the Tigers, who are a good team. And if you go back to June it seemed like the O's might find a way to overcome their starting rotation problems and roll through the AL East like they did in 2014. They were as much as 5.5 games ahead at the end of that month.
It wasn't that easy though, and in the end they had to overcome a lot to get where they have gotten. I'm hoping that powering through some adversity will be a good thing for them, but who knows. It could all be over by this time tomorrow.
What Orioles batters are coming into the game on a hot streak?
The easy (and not totally accurate) answer is that no one is coming in on a hot streak because September/October was the team's second-worst month by OPS in the season. Many are slumping, but not everyone. J.J. Hardy batted over .300 for the month. Matt Wieters has made what amounts to a strong contract push with an .818 OPS for September/October. Mark Trumbo homered seven times and slugged over .500 for the month. For most of the rest of the regulars, struggle has been the name of the game.
Who is coming cold?
The worst offender for slumping is poor Jonathan Schoop, who played in every regular season game and probably needed some more rest. Instead he played every day and batted .196/.222/.348 for Sept/Oct. Yowza. Adam Jones was only just slightly better with a .641 OPS. It was a slump month also for Manny Machado, who was held to a .243/.288/.409 batting line. Chris Davis had a down month too, batting just .226, although he walked and hit enough homers to still have a .734 OPS.
Does your media whine when the team celebrates making the Wild Card, or is it just Toronto media that are killjoys?
I think your media is alone on that one. There were no complaints like that down here that I saw. ... you know, as long as nobody's too hung over to play the next game.
I’m with you, there are never enough of those good moments in life, why not enjoy them.
Who are your choices for Oriole MVP and Cy Young?
The O's MVP is definitely Manny Machado. When you hit 37 home runs, play Gold Glove defense, and slug Yordano Ventura, you are the man, plain and simple. And I think the O's Cy Young is probably Tillman, who was the only really above average starter the O's had for a lot of the season. Zach Britton certainly gets an honorable mention for his unprecedented season of dominance as the closer.