Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees (4/5-4/8)

After a frustrating split series to start the season against the Blue Jays and an abbreviated two game series sweep against the Rays which battled inclement weather in New York for much of the week, the Yanks will turn their sights and seek another series win against the lowly 1-5 Orioles.

Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa/USA TODAY Sports

Game One (Thursday, April 5 | First Pitch: 6:35 PM ET )
Masahiro Tanaka vs. Andrew Cashner
Tanaka, looking to bounce back from a mostly abysmal 2017 season, started off the season on the right note, dominating in his first start much the same of the other Yankee starters so far this season. The only damage done against Tanaka was a Randal Grichuk homer in the second inning. Other than that, he was pretty much flawless, as he allowed just three baserunners and one run in six innings of work while striking out eight. Tanaka will look to hopefully build off of his tremendous start against the O’s.

Cashner enjoyed a solid 2017 season with the Rangers before signing in the offseason with the Orioles, who were looking hard to upgrade their starting rotation. He struggled in his debut with the team, allowing five runs, four earned, in five innings of work en route to picking up the loss. His main struggle was keeping the ball in the park, as he allowed three home runs to the Twins offense. If he struggles again with his command, it’ll be a long day for him against a much more high-octane offense.

Game Two (Friday, April 6 | First Pitch: 7:05 PM ET)
CC Sabathia vs. Kevin Gausman
The veteran lefty enjoyed a stellar start to the season, going five innings and allowing just one earned run against the Blue Jays before Dellin Betances went on to blow the game in the late innings. Sabathia has created a nice middle-of-the-rotation role as his career has waned down, as he’s figured out how to pitch without the power he once had.

Gausman put in a stellar, intriguing 2016 season that had Oriole fans hopeful he could reach his potential, but he took multiple steps back in the 2017 season after going 11-12 while pitching to a 4.68 ERA in 34 games started. He was atrocious in his opening start, allowing six runs, three homers, while lasting just four innings. After allowing 28 and 29 homers in his past two seasons, if Gausman can’t keep the ball down against the Yanks offense, he’ll be on a short leash once again.

Game Three (Saturday, April 7 | First Pitch: 1:05 PM ET)
Sonny Gray vs. Chris Tillman
Sonny Gray is due to have a very good season and he started things off on the right note, by allowing just one run to the Jays. He certainly was in trouble often, but did a great job of getting out of it. That’s been the problem for Gray in his short time with the pinstripes so far, as he’s continuously getting himself into jams. Those jams led Gray to lasting just four innings for the Yanks in his first start, while allowing seven hits and striking out an impressive eight hitters. Allowing just one run and showing the ability to get out of jams was impressive, but the Yankees will need more than four innings from Gray.

Photo Credit: Fred Thornhill/AP

Tillman, now at the age of 29, has endured a pretty up-and-down career. His first three seasons, a combined 36 starts, were horrendous as all three years he pitching an ERA in the high 5.00s. He followed that up with a breakout campaign in 2012 and strung together a few impressive seasons, including a trip to the All Star Game back in 2013. Tillman then followed up a 2015 season in which he went 11-11 with a 4.99 ERA with a pleasant 16-6 season in 2016. His up-and-down career continued into 2017, as he started just 19 games and put together a record of 1-7 with an ERA of 7.84. Tillman allowed four runs across four innings while giving up seven hits in his first start of the 2018 season and the Orioles will need Tillman to breakout once again this season if they want any shot at making the playoffs.

Game Four (Sunday, April 8 | First Pitch: 1:05 PM ET)
Jordan Montgomery vs. Mike Wright Jr.
Virtually unknown by many fans heading into 2017, Montgomery was impressive in his debut season, giving the Yankees a very good fifth starter. Like the rest of the rotation, Gumby was tremendous in Tuesday’s rainy game against the Rays, giving Aaron Boone five innings of two-hit ball while giving up just one run in the process. Montgomery shouldn’t have many problems with a struggling, underperforming Orioles lineup, but like Gray, Montgomery sometimes tends to get himself into trouble too often. Despite the gem he pitched against the Rays, he did allow four walks which has been a bit of a problem in his major league career so far.

Mike Wright Jr. is in the Orioles rotation as the fifth starter and he did his job in his first start of the season. He gave them an average five innings, while giving up four hits, three runs, and striking out six. Heading into the season, he had appeared in 43 games for the Orioles in his career, 21 of which have been starts. Wright Jr. hasn’t experienced much success at all when he’s been in the majors, as he has a 5.85 career ERA and a negative career WAR in -0.7.

Yankees players to watch:

Dellin Betances
Just last summer Dellin Betances was his normal dominant self, arguably the Yankees’ most trusted relief with the struggles of Aroldis Chapman and the pre-David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle chapter. Ever since last August, Betances has been a shell of the guy who has made four consecutive All Star games, as he was seldomly used in the 2017 playoffs. That streak is surely in serious doubt even after just one week of baseball, as Betances has picked up where he left off last season. Betances has fallen to the bottom of the pecking order in the bullpen, which isn’t hard to do considering all the great arms, but he needs find his control and location if he wants to remain a Yankee through the remainder of this season. In the end, it’s too soon to write him off, but he’ll have to start by proving himself in low-leverage situation before he can regain the trust of manager Boone and be in high-leverage situations again.  

Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Brandon Drury
The former Diamondback infielder was the Yankees’ best hitter in the opening four-game series. For the series, he went five-for-13 (.385) while racking up four RBIs, hitting his first homer as a Yankee, and even walking three times raising his OBP to .500. Drury followed that up with going hitless in seven ABs across two games against the Rays, striking out three times and reaching base just once via walk.

Gary Sanchez
One of the premier catchers in the majors over the last two seasons, Sanchez has gotten off to a bit of a rough start just a few games into the season after a tremendous spring. In the series against the Blue Jays, he went just one-for-14 with the one hit being an RBI double on Opening Day. Sanchez then went hitless in his next 17 ABs before breaking through with a two-run homer in Wednesday’s game against the Rays. Even though the Yankees have went 4-2 six games into the season with Sanchez struggling, they’ll need him to pick it up if they want to maintain this kind of pace. He has went through a bit of tough luck though, as he’s hit the ball hard and played tremendous defense at catcher thus far.

Side Note: Aaron Judge crushed Orioles pitching last season, so expect a big series out of him if last season was any indication.

Orioles players to watch:
Manny Machado
This one may seem obvious just because he’s one of the game’s best players, but it’s also because he will be a free agent after the 2018 season and the team heavily connected with him has been the Yankees, including trade talks between the two teams this offseason. There is still a minimal possibility the Yankees try trading for him at the trade deadline, but that’s unlikely considering they could just sign him in the offseason. Machado though endured an interesting 2017 campaign in which he was uncharacteristic of himself in the first half of the season but regained form in the second half. Back to his natural position in shortstop this season, Machado has went 6-for-23 (.261) so far without knocking in a run. Having been the two hole hitter in every game this season, Machado is an obvious X factor if the Orioles want any chance of pulling off a series win.

Photo Credit: Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle

Chris Davis
The all-or-nothing first baseman, who finished third in the 2013 AL MVP voting when he hit .286 to go with 53 homers and 138 RBIs, has been abysmal to begin the 2018 campaign. Leading off in all but one of the contests for the Orioles, Davis is one-for-21 on the season with three walks and striking out eight times. A bit of a problem for the Yanks in years past, a few contributions from him could help jumpstart this otherwise stagnant Orioles offense.

The Yankees shouldn’t have much of a problem winning this series against the Orioles, as much of their lineup has been disappointing six games in and their pitching staff is known to be amongst the league’s worst. In each team’s third series of 2018, expect the Yanks, who have the advantage in every aspect of the game, to take three of four in the Bronx.

All stats came from Baseball Reference.

Article by: Spencer Schultz


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