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Baltimore Orioles series preview: Watch out for long balls

The potent Orioles' offense comes to town.

Machado and the dong socking Orioles come to town
Machado and the dong socking Orioles come to town
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In a first month of the season that has matched the Kansas City Royals against the foes that they've collected over their past two seasons of deep postseason runs, the Baltimore Orioles will travel to Kauffman Stadium. This rematch of the 2014 American League Championship Series happens after the Orioles raced to the front of the American League East on the back of a 7 - 0 start to the season.

With both teams possessing their division's lead heading into the series, this weekend's match-up marries the conflict from a recent historical high-profile series and the importance of each team trying to stay atop their division.

For out-of-market Royals fans, Saturday's game will be broadcast on MLB Network per the Royals' website.

*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs

Pitching match-ups

Game One - Friday, 7:15 PM CDT

Yovani Gallardo 33 184.1 121 68 3.42 4.00 4.31 4.59
Chris Young 34 123.1 83 43 3.06 4.52 5.33 5.15

*2015 stats

For either Friday starter, two of three starts have been pretty poor in this young season. Both Gallardo and Young started out with solid if unspectacular starts, allowing one and two earned runs respectively. Since those first starts, neither pitcher has allowed less than four runs in an outing. Each owns an ERA on the wrong side of 5.00 (5.63 and 7.90), and the xFIP and SIERA for either pitcher sits on the wrong side of 5.00, indicating that the dismal ERA is at least in part representative of their on-field performance after removing defense and chance from the equation.

Gallardo and Young both have track records to suggest that their early 2016 struggles may be short-lived. Unlike Gallardo though, Young will have to do so against the team sporting the highest wOBA (.371) and wRC+ (146) in the majors through action on Wednesday.

Game Two - Saturday, 6:15 PM CDT

Vance Worley 23 71.2 49 21 4.02 3.82 4.32 4.28
Kris Medlen 15 58.1 40 18 4.01 4.13 4.31 4.28

*2015 stats

The Orioles' starter for this game was still up in the air as of early Thursday evening, but Worley has been Baltimore's spot starter while Kevin Gausman makes rehab starts in the minor leagues following a strain of his right shoulder. Gausman should be activated soon, but Worley is as good a bet as anyone to get the start here, as he's gotten the nod in each previous turn through the rotation. Rookie right-hander Tyler Wilson would be the other option available for the Orioles. Worley pitched mostly out of relief last year, making all but one of his eight starts before the mid-point in May. His peripherals suggest he's been slightly better than his ERA suggests.

Medlen has allowed an unappetizing 6.35 BB/9 thus far, but his 8.74 K/99 and .296 BABIP suggest his 2.38 ERA after two starts isn't completely misleading. His 3.22 FIP is a sign for early encouragement, though his 4.85 SIERA and 4.41 xFIP regress him to the mean on account of the zero home runs allowed thus far.

Game Three - Sunday, 1:15 PM CDT

Mike Wright 12 44.2 26 18 6.04 6.13 5.70 5.28
Yordano Ventura 28 163.1 156 58 4.08 3.57 3.60 3.69

*2015 stats

While just 55.2 innings into his major-league career, the results haven't been particularly strong for Wright. He sports an ERA, FIP, xFIP, and SIERA on the wrong side of 5.00. The limited results this season haven't been quite as bad as last year, but his ERA and xFIP are still 5.73 and 5.00, rendering hope a likely foolish misspending of energy. If Dylan Bundy can remain healthy, it is difficult to see how he doesn't eventually displace Wright once Bundy's innings are successfully and proactively managed to allow for his presence in the rotation at the end of the season.

Through three starts, Yordano Ventura has maintained a sub-3.00 ERA (2.81) and his 9.56 K/9 and 23.9 K% are both much more in line with his stuff, but his 6.75 BB/9 and 16.7 BB% are a bit concerning. His 3.99 FIP, 4.95 xFIP, and 4.93 SIERA suggest luck has been his mistress thus far. He will have to cut down on his walks if he hopes to keep runs off the board.

The Batsmen

Barring illness, Buck Showalter's line-up will likely resemble this in the days that Caleb Joseph doesn't get the start.

Joey Rickard LF 59 1 5 4 0 .327 .339 .473 .346 128
Manny Machado 3B 60 5 13 7 0 .407 .467 .796 .530 265
Adam Jones CF 31 1 3 5 0 .200 .226 .333 .245 52
Chris Davis (L) 1B 58 5 13 11 0 .213 .362 .532 .387 159
Mark Trumbo RF 54 5 11 11 1 .373 .407 .686 .469 220
Matt Wieters (S) C 38 1 2 8 0 .265 .342 .412 .333 119
J.J. Hardy SS 47 2 7 6 0 .256 .298 .512 .343 126
Pedro Alvarez (L) DH 39 0 2 1 0 .125 .282 .156 .211 27
Jonathan Schoop 2B 48 3 4 8 0 .239 .271 .522 .339 122
Caleb Joseph C 19 0 3 0 0 .222 .263 .278 .242 50
Nolan Reimold LF/RF 19 2 3 2 0 .389 .421 .889 .550 280
Hyun Soo Kim (L) OF 8 0 1 0 0 .500 .625 .500 .503 245
Ryan Flaherty (L) Util 8 0 0 0 1 .143 .250 .143 .126 -37

*Stats as through Wednesday, April 20

After missing time due to a rib injury, Adam Jones had to leave action earlier this week after getting hit by a stomach virus. The Orioles' offense does not look to have missed a beat without their All-Star center fielder, as superstar Manny Machado has spent the 2016 season obliterating the ball. Joey Rickard has been a pleasant surprise after being selected as a Rule 5 pick from the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Mark Trumbo Experience has been about what one would expect. The only qualified position player who has been worse than Trumbo defensively (in terms of the defensive component of fWAR) is Jay Bruce, but Trumbo's hot offensive start has dulled that pain, resulting in an early 0.5 fWAR. The entire lineup has been hitting with the exception of Pedro Alvarez and Adam Jones, and one of those two will likely right his ship (hint: it probably won't be Alvarez). The slug first, ask questions later approach from J.J. Hardy, Jonathan Schoop, and Trumbo has yielded significant results so far.

A quick look at their lineup should leave Royals fans hoping that the mystical powers of the parking lots at the K do their job, stifling Oriole dongs for the three-day engagement with the AL East leaders.

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