After winning their second consecutive home stand, yet dropping their first home series, the Tampa Bay Rays will begin an eight-game, nine day roadtrip. First stop Baltimore, where they’ll take on the Orioles over the next three days.
The Rays have been a nice surprise thus far. They are winners of four of their last six, and sit at the .500 mark at 10-10 on the season. The test for them will be to actually win games on this road trip — and moving forward — after going 1-6 on their disastrous trek through New York and Boston a couple of weeks back.
The Orioles have won four of their last five games — including the first two games against Boston this past weekend — after winning the series against the Cincinnati Reds. At 12-5 on the season, Baltimore currently leads the AL East by a game and a half over the Yankees, and seven and a half games over the last place Blue Jays.
The O’s have played six series so far in 2017, and they have won five of them; something no one else in the majors can claim. That is, they have yet to lose a series. Interestingly enough though, over the last 14 days, the Rays have outperformed the Orioles in almost every offensive category. It will be interesting to see if Baltimore’s pitching staff can contain the Rays, and if Tampa Bay’s bullpen can contain the Orioles.
Kevin Cash will lean on Chris Archer (2-0, 3.20 ERA, 1.70 FIP), Erasmo Ramirez (1-0, 1.80 ERA, 3.48 ERA), and Alex Cobb (1-2, 4.88 ERA, 4.59 FIP) over the next three days. Buck Showalter will counter with Ubaldo Jimenez (1-0, 5.51 ERA, 5.45 FIP), Wade Miley (1-0, 1.89 ERA, 3.15 FIP), and Dylan Bundy (3-1, 1.37 ERA, 1.82 FIP).
Archer has totaled 10-2/3 innings pitched over his last two starts, compared to 14 2/3 innings pitched over his first two outings. Working in the right-hander’s favor, however, Archer has received 21 runs of support, and hasn’t allowed a homer this season. The righty threw 104 pitches (67 strikes) to get through his five innings of work in his last outing, as the Tigers routinely pushed Archer into deep counts. Whatever the case, he’s still enjoying a strong start to the 2017 season with a 3.20 ERA/1.70 FIP, and a 27:8 strike to walk ratio through 25-1/3 innings.
Jimenez turned in his first quality start of the year on Wednesday against Cincinnati, tossing 7-2/3 scoreless innings. Since joining the Orioles, Jimenez is 7–2 with a 3.12 ERA in interleague games, but 20–29 with a 5.03 ERA against American League ball clubs…but alas, he’s 5-2 with a 3.19 ERA against the Rays. He leans primarily on his four-seam fastball (34% of the time) which he uses to coax grounders, his sinker (27% of the time), and his splitter (18% of the time) and slider (14% of the time) when he wants a pop up. Key matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (3-10, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Evan Longoria (4-16, HR, 3 RBI), Logan Morrison (5-8, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, BB), Steven Souza Jr. (2-8, BB), Rickie Weeks Jr. (6-13, 2B, 3B, 3 BB)
Ramirez was superb in his start on 4/20 in place of Jake Odorizzi. He allowed just one run and two hits in five innings against the Tigers. One thing that is concerning, Ramirez has given up three home runs in his past four appearances.
Miley is coming off an excellent start in Cincinnati, where he tossed eight scoreless frames. The outing was the longest by a Baltimore starter this season. Miley tends to rely on his 91 mph sinker (41% of the time) with a lot of arm-side run, his 92 mph four seam fastball (22% of the time) with good “rising action,” and his 84 mph slider (22% of the time) — by far his best pitch. He’ll also mix in a 77 mph curveball (10% of the time) to coax a fly ball from time to time. Key matchups: Peter Bourjos (1-4, 2B), Kevin Kiermaier (4-11, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, BB), Derek Norris (3-3, RBI), Rickie Weeks Jr. (4-13, 2B, 2 BB)
Cobb will be try to snap a three-game losing streak and win his first game on the road since September 2016. He’s allowed 20 hits over his last two starts, and four earned runs in each of his last three, however, boding in his favor, Cobb rang up seven batters in his last outing — six swinging, and three on the changeup he’s been trying to “find.”
Bundy has pitched to a 1.37 ERA/1.82 FIP over four quality starts. The right-hander held Boston scoreless over seven-plus innings on Friday, yet was only given two runs of support…although the two runs were plenty. Bundy scattered six base hits in that outing, and has allowed one run or fewer in three of his four starts. The hurler relies regularly on his 92 mph four seam fastball (42% of the time) with good “rising action,” and a whiffy 84 mph slider (25% of the time). He also tends to mix in an 84 mph worm-burner changeup (18% of the time), and a 76 mph curveball (13% of the time) with good 12-6 bite. Key matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (2-5, HR, 3 RBI), Evan Longoria (2-5, HR, RBI), Brad Miller (2-5, HR, RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (1-2)