SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
There’s no need to expand on this any more than I have to: The Orioles are the worst team in baseball.
Red Sox 7, Orioles 3
Down. This is no surprise, because the Orioles have been trending down since, oh I don’t know, the start of last year? Earlier? They did win their last game on Wednesday against the Nationals, but overall they’ve dropped four of six since the break.
Unfortunately, the story leading up to Friday’s series opener likely will have little to do with play on the field with the Price vs. Dennis Eckersley fued being rekindled this week. It’s a terribly dumb situation that I have zero interest in discussing, so I’ll just leave it at that. You can find plenty on it elsewhere on the interwebs if you’d like. On the mound, Price has been the Red Sox best pitcher this year but is coming off the first game in which he pitched and the team lost in about a month. Price was okay against the Dodgers, allowing four runs but just one earned over five innings. He’s only gone five innings in three of his last five outings, so he’ll try to give some more length this time around. He’s faced the Orioles once this year back in April, tossing seven shutout innings.
Means was Baltimore’s All-Star representative this year, and while he shouldn’t have been — Trey Mancini was clearly the most deserving player on their roster — he’s having a very good rookie season. The lefty has made 15 starts this year, plus four relief appearances early in the season. In that time he has pitched to a great 2.94 ERA, though he also has a 4.23 FIP and a 4.35 DRA. Means doesn’t really have a true standout skill, but he’s just good enough at about everything to at least get by. It’s worth noting he is coming off his worst start of the year, having just allowed six runs to the Rays over six innings of work. Boston has seen the rookie three times this year and has managed just four runs over 17 innings. Means will offer a fastball that sits around 92 mph along with a changeup and a slider.
What is there to even say about Rick Porcello at this point, ya know? The Red Sox righty has been absolutely brutal for pretty much this entire season and is mired in a terrible slump right now. It feels like every start is rock bottom and he’s going to pull himself back up at some point, but it just hasn’t happened yet. The issue, as is so often the case when Porcello struggles, is that he is simply too hittable. If he’s not commanding the edges of the strike zone, teams will hit him hard and hit him often. The righty has allowed at least four runs in each of his last four outings. He’s faced Baltimore once this year back in April, allowing three runs in just four innings of work.
The Red Sox will be facing a second rookie in this series on Saturday night, going up against the 25-year-old righty. This will be Eshelman’s third appearance in the majors, having just gotten called up at the start of this month. Both of his previous starts came against the Rays and in those outings he allowed a total of six runs over 10 2⁄3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. In Triple-A, where Eshelman has been since 2017, he’s shown great control but also failed to miss too many bats while allowing a few more homers than you’d like to see. In his first two starts the righty featured two fastballs in the mid-80s along with a curveball, a slider and a changeup.
The newest member of the Red Sox will be going up against his old team for his second start in a Boston uniform. Cashner’s first start didn’t exactly go according to plan, however. He did go five innings, which sadly enough is a positive from the number five spot in this rotation, but he allowed six runs (five earned) including two homers. His command was just all over the place in this game in a way it hadn’t been for most of the year up to this point. If you’re looking for hope, consider he had a little extra time off and also had to deal with being traded. That is a logistical nightmare for players in ways we rarely consider. Hopefully that played a role in his struggles and he’ll be more settled in and at ease this time around.
Wojciechowski is the veteran starter the Red Sox will be facing this series with parts of three season under his belt and a career innings total of 94. The 30-year-old has bounced around over his big-league career and has spent most of this year in the minors. He does have a big strikeout rate in his short time in the majors this year — over 12 per nine — but he’s also shown major command problems over his career. Wojciechowski has carried solid, but unspectacular, walk rates throughout his career but also has given up a ton of homers. Look for the Red Sox to try and launch the ball against the righty. This year Wojciechowski has featured a fastball that sits around 92-93 mph along with a slider and a cutter.
Notable Position Players
Trey Mancini, as I mentioned above, was the team’s most deserving potential All-Star. His plate discipline is just about average, but he’s been a force when putting the ball in play this year, particularly in the power department.
Renato Núñez has been on a hot streak of late and is a similar player to Mancini. He doesn’t have quite as strong plate discipline but he also relies mostly on power and solid contact.
Jonathan Villar hits atop Baltimore’s lineup most nights and has decent power but gets most of his value from his legs.
Anthony Santander will show a little pop here and there but at his best he sprays line drives all over the field and makes a lot of contact.
Chance Sisco has been outstanding in a small sample size this year, partially due to luck to work around his 33 percent strikeout rate. He also has an Isolated Power over .300 in 88 plate appearances, though.
Chris Davis is having another historically bad year with a wRC+ of 54.
Hanser Alberto is never going to walk and never going to strike out, so it’s all about inducing weak contact and preventing him from singling all over the field.
Rio Ruiz either needs to strike out way less or hit for more power as he’s kind of caught in the middle of no-man’s land as a hitter.
Steve Wilkerson has solid power but not enough to make up for striking out nearly a third of the time.
Richard Bleier is not your typical late-inning arm, striking out just over three batters per nine innings and instead relying on impeccable command. If it’s off even a little bit, he struggles.
Dylan Bundy was placed on the injured list with a knee issue earlier in the week. He should be back soon, possibly right after this series ends.
Alex Cobb made just three outings before going down with a lumbar strain and eventually needing to undergo season-ending hip surgery.
Mark Trumbo has been out all year after undergoing knee surgery, but the Orioles are still optimistic he’ll play at some point.
Nathan Karns is on a rehab assignment after suffering a forearm surgery, but he hasn’t really looked ready to return in his minor-league appearances.
Josh Rogers may have to undergo Tommy John surgery but is still trying to figure out if another plan could be viable.
It is going to be an absurdly hot weekend in Baltimore, with day-time temperatures in triple digits on Saturday and Sunday. If you’re going to Sunday afternoon’s game, be careful.