Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (May 17, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America
For the first time since May 20th, the Boston Red Sox will face off against their AL East counterpart, the Baltimore Orioles. While the previous series took place in Fenway, this time the Red Sox will be traveling down to Camden Yards to take on the Manny Machado and company.
Red Sox-Orioles Series Preview
Getting to Know the Orioles
Baltimore is having a nightmare of a season. Coming into the season hoping to maybe sniff a wild card berth, everything has gone wrong for this club. Manny Machado is the same great player he always is, but everyone else has drastically underperformed.
Chris Davis, Baltimore’s big money first baseman, is having the worst season of his career. He’s currently posting an absolutely atrocious .152/.232/.232 with a 26 wRC+. Davis offers nothing defensively and has always been an offense-first player. However, it seems as though age is finally slowing Davis down. His fWAR is -1.8, and he’s currently on pace for the worst season anyone has ever had ever. Seriously.
While nobody else on the Orioles is quite as bad as Davis, there’s not much to be afraid of. Despite being 15th in home runs, the Orioles rank second to last in runs. This offense is very much an all-or-nothing team, and more often than not, they produce nothing.
The pitching isn’t much better. Baltimore as a team has the fourth-worst ERA in the league at 4.24, and none of the measures suggest this is due to bad luck. Four of their five starters are posting horrific numbers, while their best starter is currently just 24 years old. But more on that later.
Quite frankly, this is a bad team in just about every measurable sense. The only player they need to worry about is Manny Machado. If they can limit his production and slow down his bat, then the Sox should be in good shape.
Game 1: Steven Wright vs. Dylan Bundy
Steven Wright has looked absolutely amazing ever since returning from the disabled list. After making a series of successful bullpen appearances, Wright made his first start of the season against the Detroit Tigers.
Wright pitched seven scoreless innings in that game and likely secured the fifth starting spot for the foreseeable future. He’ll look to build off that great outing against Dylan Bundy. While Bundy hasn’t had the worst season, it hasn’t been great for him either. Bundy will enter Monday’s start with a 4.04 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and a 4.57 FIP.
These numbers aren’t great, but Bundy has the potential to keep the Orioles in the game. Mookie Betts almost certainly won’t be playing, so the Sox won’t be at full strength. However, it’s hard to imagine the Orioles outscoring the Red Sox with Steven Wright on the mound. He’s pitching like his 2016 All-Star form.
Game 2: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. David Hess
David Hess is in the first year of his major league career, and he’s arguably already the best starter on the team. While he’s only pitched 29.1 innings so far, Hess has put together several quality starts. So far, the young righty owns a 3.07 ERA with 16 strikeouts and eight walks. While those numbers are solid, his underlying peripherals don’t look nearly as good.
Hess currently owns an ugly 5.49 FIP, which suggests that he’s been very lucky with run prevention. His BABIP is an unsustainably low .239, and that number should rise with time. Hess isn’t quite as good as he first appears, and the Red Sox might be able to tee off on Hess.
Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, has been in the midst of a strong series of starts. In his last four starts, E-Rod has just a 1.90 ERA, 2.09 FIP, and is striking out 9.9 batters per nine innings while walking just 1.9. He still struggles with his pitch count, but he’s been phenomenal otherwise.
The Orioles lineup doesn’t any firepower to speak of, so E-Rod has the chance to go deep here. He’s been a great mid- to late-rotation arm, but if he can go deeper in games, he can produce like a #2 or #3 arm.
Game 3: Chris Sale vs. Andrew Cashner
The Red Sox struggle to score runs for Chris Sale, but that could change against Andrew Cashner. Cashner’s in the middle of a rough season, currently posting a 4.98 ERA to go along with a 5.17 FIP. On paper, this should be an easy victory.
It’s highly unlikely that the Orioles are able to do any damage against Sale. While he’s not having the same success as he did in 2017, Sale is still a top-five pitcher in baseball. The Red Sox offense, who may or may not have Mookie Betts back at this point, should be able to do some damage to Cashner.
The Red Sox should be favored in all three games, and if they do their job they should get a sweep. The Red Sox boast the better offense, starting pitching, and bullpen. The only the Orioles do better than the Red Sox is run the bases, which doesn’t cancel out the drastic talent differences across the board.
The only player capable of ruining this road series is Manny Machado. Machado is one of the best players in baseball, and he’s capable of winning ballgames all by himself. If the Red Sox can take him out of the game, then the Orioles don’t stand a shot.
With three solid starters going for the Red Sox, Machado probably won’t be able to singlehandedly beat the Red Sox. The Red Sox are the vastly superior team and should take care of business. Look for them to take all three games before facing off against the upstart Seattle Mariners.