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Series Preview: Messing With The Trash Birds

Thanks to a seven game winning streak, the Trash Birds from Baltimore are only a game-and-a-half out of the second wild card. Fuck that! The Jays’ season is entirely meaningless at this point, but if they could put a wrench in Baltimore’s playoff aspirations, that would certainly be a nice consolation prize.

Thursday at 7:05

Jeremy Hellickson! The saviour! Since being acquired from the Phillies at the trade deadline, Hellickson has made five starts, a couple good, a couple bad, and owns a 5.46 with the Orioles. In his most recent outing, Hellickson held the Red Sox to just two earned runs on four hits over seven innings pitched. He isn’t a world-beater, as we know from his years in Tampa Bay, but he’s a sort of reliable upgrade over what Baltimore had been trotting out there otherwise.

Friday at 7:05

Kevin Gausman’s season has been a rollercoaster. At a glance, his 4.98 ERA is pretty disappointing, especially for a pitcher who was expected to break out an lead the staff. But there has been times where Gausman has pitched like the ace Baltimore hoped he would become. Last time out, he dominated the Red Sox, shutting them out over seven-and-two-thirds innings, but starts like that have been overshadowed by the many spells in which he gets drilled over and over again.

Speaking of rollercoasters, he’ll go against Joe Biagini, who’s been on one of his own in his sophomore season. Originally, Biagini started the season in the ‘pen, where he had overwhelming success in 2016, but he was thrust into the rotation due to injury and fell flat after a strong start. In his first start after being stretched out in Triple-A, Biagini got rocked by the Twins, struggling mightily with command. What he does in September will go a long way in determining his role on the team next season.

Saturday at 7:05

Wade Miley had an inexplicably good, largely luck-driven start to the season but has since returned back to earth. For the season, he owns a 4.99 ERA, which is right in line with what you’d expect from him as a back-of-the-rotation depth kind of guy. In three outings against Toronto this season, the Jays have tagged him for three runs each time out. He’ll go against Marcus Stroman who’s evolved into Toronto’s ace this season. In just one outing against the O’s, Stroman was dominant, holding Baltimore to five hits and no runs over seven-and-two-thirds innings.

Sunday at 1:35

Chris Tillman has had a miserable season. No starter in the American League has been worse than him as no regular starter owns an ERA worse than Tillman’s 7.91. He’s allowing a whopping 12.5 hits per nine innings and his walks have also spiked up to 5.0 per nine, putting him at nearly two baserunners per inning. After starting the season on the DL with an arm injury, Tillman has never really been able to get things going. At no point in the season has he put up back-to-back quality starts, and he hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning once.

He’ll be a much, much less stiff challenge than the one Brett Anderson had to face last time out. In his Blue Jays debut, Anderson had to go up against Chris Sale, and as good as he was, there was virtually no way Anderson was going to come out on top. His five-and-two-thirds innings of one-run ball was a pretty damn good first impression, though. A good September could net Anderson a job with the Blue Jays next season.

Thoughts…

It blows my mind that a team with this pitching rotation is only one game out of a playoff spot. But hey, welcome to the American League in 2017! The Jays are fortunate not to have to see Dylan Bundy, who’s really been Baltimore’s only good starter this season. While the Jays are essentially rolling a Triple-A lineup out there, Baltimore has a very hittable group of pitchers slated to start, so we could actually see some offence from this group. Taking three games out of this four-game series and messing with the O’s playoff run would be excellent.