The Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers are ready to square off in a four-game series where many fans of both franchises will be watching for their team to lose.
It’s the series many Baltimore Orioles fans have been waiting for. Beginning Friday night, the Orioles will take on the Detroit Tigers for four-straight games in a crucial battle for the number one overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft.
I’ve mentioned before that it feels weird to openly hope the Orioles lose to a bad Detroit team, but I understand why so many fans are highly intrigued with the outcome of this particular series.
As of Friday morning, the Tigers are 43-102 and hold a 3.5 game lead over the Orioles for the worst record in baseball. Baltimore just matched their win total from a depressing 2018 season by improving to 47-99 with a big win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Orioles followed up their impressive win by dropping game three of the series, while Detroit is coming off two losses in one day to New York.
At the moment, here is what the top of the draft would look like if the season ended today.
- Detroit: 43-102
- Baltimore: 47-99 (3.5 GB)
- Miami: 51-95 (7.5 GB)
- Kansas City: 55-92 (11 GB)
- Toronto: 57-90 (13.5 GB)
Picking first or second (or even third) in the MLB draft doesn’t make that much difference, in my opinion. However, I will admit that the days leading up to the draft, watching Adley Rutschman officially become a part of Birdland, and the days of celebration afterward (who am I kidding, we’re all still celebrating), were very exciting times.
If Baltimore isn’t going to be involved in the hunt for a playoff spot anytime soon, at least we can enjoy the process of watching this franchise develop and grow in big ways. So, while I’m going to watch this series hoping the Orioles win (like always), I won’t be too upset if Detroit hits a string of good luck over the weekend.
We know who will be taking the mound in each game for this series, so let’s take a look and see who may end this series with the inside track for the top overall pick.
If you have three hours carved out Friday night to take in this game, you are a true fan and I applaud you. Zimmermann, 33, is winless at home (0-6, 6.80 ERA), but he is coming off a decent month of August in which he posted a 3.27 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and limited hitters to a .192 average. All three of those numbers were his best marks for a single month this season, by far.
Brooks is essentially the same pitcher at home as he is on the road, not great. After tossing back-to-back impressive performances to close out August (11 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K), Brooks is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in two September starts.
While in Oakland, Brooks logged one inning of relief work against Detroit. He gave up three runs on three hits (one home run) in that outing at Detroit.
Norris has been better since the All-Star break, but has still posted a 4.23 ERA and has given up 10 home runs in 44 post-All-Star innings. Right-handed hitters are hitting .286 against him in 2019 and we all know what Hanser Alberto is capable of against lefties. He’s 1-7 at home and has given up four runs on five hits across his two September starts. Don’t expect to see Norris for very long, seeing as Detroit keeps him at three innings per start.
Ynoa is getting the start here to allow Asher Wojciechowski an extra day of rest due to fatigue. If you take away his two outings since July 1st where he allowed seven earned runs in each outing, Ynoa has been serviceable. The road has not been kind to Ynoa, who owns a road walk rate nearly double that of his home free pass rate and a strikeout rate under 13%.
Sunday: RHP Asher Wojciechowski (2-8, 5.51 ERA) vs RHP Edwin Jackson (3-9, 9.76 ERA)
It’s been a long time since Edwin Jackson made his major league debut in 2003 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but here he is at 36 still hanging around the big leagues. Clearly, Jackson hasn’t had a great season but he has improved since he was released by the Toronto Blue Jays and signed with the Tigers.
As a Blue Jay, Jackson was 1-5 with an 11.12 ERA, 2.19 WHIP, and a .380 average against. With Detroit, Jackson is 2-4 with a 8.51 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, and a .333 average against. I was trying to say something positive about the veteran by saying he’s “improved” since switching uniforms; he’s still bad. His last outing came on September 10th against New York. Have up six runs on six hits (two home runs) in just two innings.
Wojo is exhausted, but Brandon Hyde is giving him an extra day of rest in hopes of bouncing back from three-straight rough outings. He made it through two innings in his last start, giving up four runs on six hits against Texas. On a positive note, he’s walked only two batters in his last three starts (13 IP). But can he stop Detroit from getting on base via the base hit?
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This is the first time I’ve ever heard of Tyler Alexander, so I’ll be intrigued for about an inning before going back to not paying attention to anyone on Detroit’s roster. His numbers say he’s a soft-tossing lefty who doesn’t walk anyone, but hitters do make a lot of contact against him. Right-handed hitters own a .322 average against the rookie. Sounds like a few hits for Hanser Alberto to me.
The Orioles will send their own left-handed rookie to the mound on Monday in Means. While Alexander seems like just another guy on a terrible team (too harsh?), John Means is wrapping up an All-Star season and should finish in the top three for Rookie of the Year voting in the American League.
He just put in a quality start while striking out six against the Dodgers this week and last time out against Detroit he gave up one run across six innings, didn’t walk a single batter, and struck out a career-high seven hitters. Means should feel fairly confident going into Monday’s start.
This Orioles team has too much pride to let Detroit walk all over them, so I expect them to move on from the LA series and have a big weekend against the Tigers. Remember, even if the Orioles pick second, they’re still going to get themselves a pretty darn good prospect.