The Baltimore Orioles pitching has been terrible recently. Like, historically terrible. On Saturday, they snapped a streak of 20-consecutive games allowing five or more runs. That level of futility tied a 93-year-old record. The Blue Jays offence hasn’t been very good either, though.
This week, something is going to have to give. Either the O’s pitching will come through for the first time in a month, or the Jays bats will tee off. Let’s hope it’s the latter, because this is the last easy-ish series the Jays are going to see for quite some time.
Tuesday at 7:07
Kevin Gausman had his best start of June last week against the Clevelanders. He threw five-and-two-thirds innings, surrendering three runs on six hits and two walks. If that was his best start the month, what the hell has the rest of his June looked like? Not very good. Gausman has struggled mightily this season, putting together a 6.47 ERA thanks largely to a walk rate per nine innings that’s doubled since his supposed breakout season in 2016. He’s walking 4.4 batters per nine innings, his strikeout totals have taken a dip, and, all in all, nobody in the American League has allowed more earned runs than Gausman has. A reason for his struggles has likely been the implementation of a slider to his repertoire. He didn’t throw one prior to 2017, and this season, it’s been drilled for a .390 batting average and .659 slugging percentage against.
The grind of being a starting pitcher seems to be catching up to Joe Biagini. After making three excellent starts in a row, Biagini has had a difficult time in back-to-back outings. There was that disaster against the White Sox a couple weeks ago, and then, he grinded through a four-run outing against the Rangers last week. Still, Biagini has done an admirable job in the rotation and has consistently given the Jays a chance to win when he starts, save for his two first inning implosions.
Wednesday at 7:07
For a few months, Wade Miley was riding high, but his FIP, as flawed as that stat might be, indicated that it would all come crashing down. And it did. Miley was walking everyone, but thanks to some good ol’ batted ball luck, they weren’t coming around to score. When he shut down the Jays back in late May, Miley had a 2.59 ERA. Now, after four rough starts, he’s ballooned to a 4.48 ERA, which makes a lot more sense. He’s walking five batters per nine innings, and while he does a solid job keeping the ball on the ground, nobody is going to be able to work around that forever.
For the first time in almost two months, Marcus Stroman had a bad start. It came last week in Texas when the Jays were making their ninth push at a .500 record. Stroman was tagged for seven earned runs over four innings by the Rangers. Before that, he had gone eight starts allowing more than three earned runs just once. It’s safe to say Stroman has been excellent this season, and deserves the benefit of the doubt after the outing in Texas.
Thursday at 7:07
The last time we saw Ublado Jimenez pitch against the Jays, he was watching Edwin Encarnacion launch a ball to the moon to walk-off the Wild Card game. This season has been more of the same for the enigmatic righty. He’s bounced between starting and making appearances out of the ‘pen, sometimes putting together a damn good start, but mostly getting smacked around. His last time out, Jimenez got drilled by the Rays, surrendering nine runs before getting yanked in the third inning. All in all, he has a massive 7.26 ERA on the season, and his peripherals (4.7 walks per nine, 7.4 strikeouts per nine) are virtually identical to where they were last year.
It says TBD for the Jays on Sunday, but I’m fairly certain it’ll be Marco Estrada taking the mound in the series finale. After a few ugly starts, Estrada was good against the Royals. Unfortunately, the offence wasn’t, and Estrada picked up his fourth loss in five starts. That said, he’s been excellent against the O’s this season. He’s faced them three times, allowing just three earned runs over 20 2/3 innings.
Like I said at the beginning of the article, this is a big opportunity for the Jays lineup to pull it together. The Orioles starting pitching is bad, and the Jays have the luxury of not having to face Dylan Bundy, the one bright spot in Baltimore’s rotation. They went 20 games allowing at least five runs, a span that saw the O’s drop 14 games and win just six.
After this series, the Jays will play Boston, New York, and Houston, a damn difficult stretch that could make or break their season. The stretch against the White Sox, Rangers, and Royals hasn’t gone as planned, meaning this series against the Orioles is critical to capitalize on before the difficult run begins.