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Baltimore Orioles Series Preview: Yes, they’ll still play these games...probably

It’s a thrilling matchup of two teams eliminated from the playoffs on the eve of expanded rosters. The eyes of baseball will all be averted.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox
Aug 18, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles second basemam Jonathan Villar (2) high fives Baltimore Orioles third baseman Renato Nunez (39) along with Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Trey Mancini (16) after hitting a three run home run during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals welcome in the Baltimore Orioles to try and avenge their embarrassing series loss in Baltimore earlier this month. The Orioles brutally bad pitching staff managed to keep the Royals in check in Baltimore, which looked bad for the Royals, but since and including that series, the Orioles have allowed three runs or fewer in five of their last nine, which seems like a very small victory, but they’ve definitely had their moments against the Rays and Nationals as a staff. They still aren’t any good, but neither are the Royals and what once seemed like an impossibility could be a reality as this is a series that could help determine some draft position with the two teams hanging around each other in the overall standings. The Royals, I think but don’t really know, are the better team while the Orioles are playing slightly better baseball right now.

Meet the Orioles

Royals vs. Orioles Tale of the Tape

Category Royals Orioles
Category Royals Orioles
Winning % .348 .331
Team wRC+ 83 88
Team xFIP 4.93 5.26
Run Differential -142 -252
2019 H2H Wins 1 2
H2H Runs Scored 7 16
Highest fWAR Hunter Dozier, 3.1 Jonathan Villar, 3.3

Orioles Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Jonathan Villar SS 578 .277 .345 .462 9.2% 24.9% 112 3.3
Anthony Santander CF 310 .288 .327 .493 5.2% 18.4% 112 1.3
Trey Mancini RF 550 .273 .347 .518 9.3% 21.3% 124 2.2
Renato Nunez DH 508 .248 .317 .479 7.9% 23.4% 106 1.0
DJ Stewart LF 67 .262 .328 .328 7.5% 26.9% 74 -0.2
Hanser Alberto 2B 438 .317 .339 .441 3.0% 8.9% 104 1.9
Rio Ruiz 3B 327 .238 .307 .361 9.2% 23.5% 77 0.4
Chris Davis 1B 312 .175 .263 .313 9.9% 39.4% 51 -1.4
Chance Sisco C 165 .215 .315 .403 9.1% 30.9% 91 -0.3

Orioles Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Pedro Severino C 289 .248 .319 .419 8.3% 22.5% 94 0.4
Richie Martin INF 273 .192 .249 .288 5.1% 28.2% 41 -1.5
Jace Peterson INF/OF 105 .206 .257 .320 5.7% 21.9% 49 -0.2
Stevie Wilkerson INF/OF 302 .220 .265 .387 4.3% 32.1% 67 -0.8

Orioles Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Mychal Givens 46 51.2 2 5 33.2% 9.5% 4.18 3.55 0.5
Richard Bleier 41 40.0 3 0 11.6% 3.3% 6.30 4.20 0.3
Hunter Harvey 4 4.0 1 0 41.2% 17.7% 0.00 2.46 0.1
Paul Fry 52 50.1 1 5 22.4% 10.8% 4.65 4.16 0.5

Probable Pitching Matchups

Friday August 30th - 7:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
John Means 25 117.1 9 9 19.4% 6.5% 3.61 5.48 2.2
Eric Skoglund 1 5.0 0 0 0.0% 14.3% 3.60 8.99 0.0

Game one of this series should be pretty darn cool for John Means who gets a chance to pitch in his hometown ballpark, albeit for the opposition. Means, of course, was born in Olathe and went to Gardner-Edgerton HS, graduating in 2011. And he’s been really solid for the Orioles this year, in spite of not having elite stuff. He was great in his last start, giving up just one run on five hits over seven innings while striking out seven and walking nobody. That kind of reversed a trend of some decent at best starts where he’d gone 1-5 with a 7.48 ERA since the break, including giving up three runs in five innings to the Royals. The home run ball had hurt him, he’d struck out way too few and given up way too many hits, so that was a nice reverse for him against Tampa Bay. One area where he really needs to improve is to figure out how to succeed with runners on. He’s allowed a .234/.288/.385 line with nobody on, but he struggles with runners on base to the tune of .244/.305/.453. It’s not a huge struggle but it’s a pretty big jump either way.

Eric Skoglund is going to get another look after a decent-ish start his last time out against Cleveland. He went five innings and allowed just two runs which is pretty solid. He didn’t strike anyone out, though, and only had five swings and misses. That probably isn’t going to be enough to succeed long-term. If you’re looking for some kind of excitement with Skoglund, I guess you could look to last September when he came back from an injury to throw 20.1 innings with a 1.33 ERA. But, again, not enough whiffs with just a five percent swinging strike rate and 10 strikeouts. Even with all that, he’s now been solid in the big leagues in his last six appearances, which is something, I guess.

Saturday August 31st - 6:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Dylan Bundy 25 132.0 6 13 23.0% 7.9% 4.98 4.54 1.8
Jorge Lopez 33 93.1 2 7 21.2% 8.6% 6.56 4.64 -0.1

The Orioles start game two with Dylan Bundy on the hill. Would you believe he’s only 26 years old? Boy he had a rough April, finishing the month with a 6.67 ERA and deserving it. Since, he’s been better, but still not good, though with flashes, including seven innings of one-run ball against a Royals offense that has maybe showed a little more life at times, but still looks pretty dormant. For Bundy, he’ll go as far as his four-seamer lets him. This year, he’s allowed a .333 average and .652 SLG on it while throwing it more than 40 percent of the time, so it’s a pretty important pitch for him. His slider is actually truly nasty with a 49.2 percent whiff rate and .161 average/.280 SLG against it. He should probably really throw that more. And while the Royals didn’t hit him well in Baltimore, they are a team that should cause them trouble with right-handed bats slugging .519 against him.

Jorge Lopez gets another shot at a starting job with the Royals shutting down Brad Keller for the season after his disaster start against Oakland. Lopez wasn’t much better, but he did strike out three of the 10 batters he faced while he gave up his five runs in 1.2 innings in that one. Prior to that, he had a solid start against these very Orioles in Baltimore and then picked up a save in his next outing against Cleveland, so he’s at least been versatile on the staff. From the All-Star break until a disaster start against the Tigers on August 8, he threw 13.2 innings with a 3.95 ERA, but walked six and struck out just nine. Since then, he’s posted a 10.00 ERA. The one thing I can guarantee with Lopez is that we have no idea what he’ll do out there. He might look like the guy who took a perfect game into the ninth last year or he might be the guy who couldn’t get through two against a hapless Tigers lineup. I guess we’ll find out soon enough!

Sunday September 1st - 1:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Aaron Brooks 24 88.2 4 7 18.3% 6.2% 5.79 5.16 0.1
Danny Duffy 18 100.1 5 6 20.7% 8.3% 4.93 5.15 0.6

Aaron Brooks gets the call to end the series, and while his season hasn’t been great, there is some to like. His last two starts are at the top of the list, starting with five innings and one run allowed against the Royals and then continuing with six shutout innings against the excellent Nationals offense. That’s a 0.82 ERA over his last two starts, spanning 11 innings. Either he’s figuring it out or he’s due for some regression. I’d guess some regression with just an eight percent swinging strike rate in those two starts. It’s hard to judge this anyway, but when you consider a guy has had two homes, it’s even harder, but Brooks has a 6.44 ERA compared to a 5.16 ERA at home. This game is decidedly not a home game for him, so that’s something. Additionally, he has a similar issue to Means with men on base, only it’s far worse. He’s allwoed a bad but not horrible .249/.302/.480 line with nobody on, but with men on, that skyrockets to .323/.390/.608. Let him make a mistake because he will and then capitalize on it.

The Royals welcome back Danny Duffy for this start after just one rehab start in Northwest Arkansas where he gave up one run on four hits over five innings with no walks allowed. He got up to 72 pitches, which is about where they wanted him and now he’s ready to go. Prior to going on the IL, he’d had a rough go of it over his previous two starts, giving up 14 runs in 10.2 innings against the Indians and Twins. This was after an 11-strikeout game against the Braves, so it sort of came out of nowhere. In those two starts, he gave up a whopping six home runs. The hope obviously is that he can put that behind him. The Orioles have been a fantastic matchup for him in his career with a career 3-2 record and 2.17 ERA in 49.2 innings against them.


This is where the Royals pay back the Orioles for their series win a couple weeks ago. I think both teams are a special brand of horrible, so it would be fitting if they end the year 3-3 against each other.


Three compelling games between bottom feeders. Who takes the series?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Royals Sweep
    (4 votes)
  • 6%
    Orioles Sweep
    (3 votes)
  • 35%
    Royals Win Two of Three
    (16 votes)
  • 26%
    Orioles Win Two of Three
    (12 votes)
  • 22%
    Mother Nature intervenes for the sake of humanity and they get rained out all weekend
    (10 votes)
45 votes total Vote Now