Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 7:00 AM
You have to say that the Baltimore Orioles passed their first post-All Star Break test with flying colors. The American East division leaders had to open with TEN games on the road against playoff contenders. They return home with a stellar 6-4 record against that gauntlet:
1-2 vs. the powerful Oakland A’s
2-1 vs. the very strong Los Angeles Angels
3-1 vs. the Seattle Mariners
Again, those were ROAD games, which means that anything at .500 or better would have been acceptable…and 4-6 wouldn’t have been much of a disaster considering the opposition.
The first home stand after the Break features rematches with the Angels and Mariners. It’s important to remember that Baltimore trails the Angels by five games in the standings…even if Baltimore is a division leader while Los Angeles is probably looking at a Wildcard.
LA Angels 63-41
Baltimore 58-46 (5 games back)
We have a lot of very tight divisional races across baseball right now. If these two were in the same division, it wouldn’t be a tight race!
LA Angels +91
That makes the difference between teams jump out even more. Baltimore is fortunate to be 12 games over .500 when only +29 in run differential. The Orioles will have home field advantage in this three-game series…but enter as the lesser of the two sides regardless of what happened last week. Now, to the numbers…
LA Angels: 4.88 runs per game, .330 on-base, .419 slugging
Baltimore: 4.24 runs per game, .313 on-base, .413 slugging
The Angels score more runs because they get a lot more guys on base. You can see that slugging is close to even for these two teams. On-base percentage and run scoring is not.
Jered Weaver: 3.36 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 7.1 K-Rate
Chris Tillman: 3.92 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 5.7 K-Rate
Weaver has thrown quality starts in five of his last seven outings…and one of the failures was two scoreless innings before he left with a stiff back. Very much in ace form lately, though his K-Rate isn’t as scary as other ace-caliber hurlers. Tillman has knocked a run off his ERA over the last six weeks…which means he’s pitching slightly better than his full season numbers would suggest. Improvement was needed…but he still has a ways to go to represent ace-type production. Orioles may be able to get away with that in a week division. Tonight, edge to Weaver.
WEDNESDAY’S PITCHERS (prime time on ESPN)
Garrett Richards: 2.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 9.1 K-Rate
Kevin Gausman: 3.67 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6.4 K-Rate
Richards allowed four runs in six innings to Detroit last week, but had been in blockbuster form before that. And, there’s no shame in allowing runs to the Tigers! There’s still some skepticism about Richards keeping this up for a full season. He’s been great thus far. Gausman has been fortunate to have an ERA below 4.00 with a WHIP that high. He’s only lasting 5.6 innings pitched per start. The youngster is more vulnerable than that ERA would indicate, particularly against a quality offense like he’ll be seeing on ESPN. Clear edge to Richards in the numbers, so there’s still a concern that he’s about to regress with a thud.
THURSDAY’S PITCHERS (prime time on MLB Network)
Tyler Skaggs: 4.49 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 6.6 K-Rate
Bud Norris: 3.94 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.7 K-Rate
Skaggs would have a worse record than 5-5 if not for friendly run support. He has disappointing numbers in a “year of the pitcher,” and is a clear soft spot in the rotation at the moment. It will be tough to catch Oakland from behind if the Halos don’t get better production from Skaggs or his replacement. Norris has only thrown quality starts in three of his last nine outings. He has a tendency to go 5-6 innings while allowing 4-5 runs, with occasional gems thrown in. Might be a good spot to look at the Over. Slight edge to the hosts based on the ERA of Norris.
There’s a very good chance JIM HURLEY will have at least one big play in this series. You can purchase all game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about baseball or football service, call us at 1-888-777-4155. Early-bird time is shrinking because the NFL Preseason starts Sunday!
We return tomorrow and Wednesday to finish off our summer series of college football conference previews with a look at the SEC. This week in the NOTEBOOK…
Wednesday: College Football…SEC “East” Preview
Thursday: College Football…SEC “West” Preview
Friday: MLB Series Preview: Milwaukee at St. Louis
Saturday: MLB Big Game Preview: either Seattle at Baltimore or LAA at Tampa Bay
Sunday: NFC East Preview to get you ready for the NY Giants vs. Buffalo in the Hall of Fame Game!
Our other seven divisional previews in the NFL will run over the ensuing two weeks of Preseason action to get you ready for marquee matchups and TV games. Baseball previews will provide the bridge between football game days until the end of the month when the college football season kicks off.
See you tomorrow for the SEC…with more analysis and insights you can only get from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!