Baltimore Orioles vs Detroit Tigers: Five players to watch

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 23: Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 23: Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman /
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Detroit Tigers
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 05: Daniel Norris /

Daniel Norris, LHP

The Orioles aren’t yet rebuilding, but at 6-19, they’ll need to start selling some of their assets sooner or later. The Tigers, meanwhile, have no illusions about fielding a competitive team this year, and that means giving their young players a chance to come into their own.

Norris, a soft-tossing lefty with a solid slider, will make his second start of the year on Sunday. At 25, he still has ample time to develop into a quality pitcher, yet his big-league results to this point — he’s made 13 or more starts in every season since 2015, posting a 4.35 ERA — don’t exactly stand out. A contending team might have already lost their patience, but with Francisco Liriano, Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Fiers in the rotation, the Tigers aren’t losing much by letting Norris try to work out the kinks in his approach.

Norris’ last start came against the Royals on April 20, and while he lasted only 4.2 innings, he surrendered just one earned run and fanned 5 batters. His ERA for the season is an unsightly 4.85, but he’s striking out 11 men per 9 innings, good for a FIP of 3.33.

But despite the encouraging peripherals, it’s been a frustrating campaign. Norris would love to use his upcoming start to regain some of his lost velocity — after averaging 93.2 mph with his fastball in 2017, he has fallen to 89.4 mph this year. According to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, he’s not concerned, but he’ll be singing a different tune if nothing changes by midseason.

If Norris struggles on Sunday, it will be a great chance for the Birds to pick up a much-needed win. If he’s locked in, it’s an opportunity to observe an intriguing young pitcher. Either way, he’s one to watch.

Which players are you going to keep an eye on this weekend? Let us know on social media, and keep it here at Birds Watcher for more updates on the Baltimore Orioles.