Baltimore Orioles: Three stories to follow during series vs. Pirates
By Josh Linn
After a six game road trip in which they went 4-2 against the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds, the Baltimore Orioles will return to Camden Yards on Friday night (weather permitting) to begin a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cut this song from your playlist so as not to evoke bad memories:
The Pirates (43-62) are in third place as a product of a lackluster NL Central. However, they are entering Baltimore on a high after sweeping the division rival Milwaukee Brewers, responding admirably after the team shipped DH Dan Vogelbach and staff ace Jose Quintana off to New York and St. Louis, respectively.
With the Orioles just two games behind the Rays for the final AL Wild Card position and Tampa in the middle of a four game set against the lowly Detroit Tigers, this a vital opportunity for the O’s to take advantage of a team headed in the opposite direction and maintain their status amongst the contenders. With the stakes well established, it’s time to delve deeper and examine three storylines to watch along with the incessant monitoring of Baltimore’s weather forecast.
Baltimore Orioles vs. Pittsburgh Pirates series preview
Dean Kremer needs a “get right” game
After his last three starts, Dean Kremer might be asking himself “Hey Matt! How can I get back on the right track?”
Kremer was masterful in his first seven starts after rejoining the Orioles on June 5: 37.2 innings, 30 strikeouts, and a 2.15 ERA/3.33 FIP accompanying them. The last three? Not so much. Kremer allowed nearly as many runs (13) as innings pitched (13.2). Batters hit .377 with a 1.055 OPS against him, and he’s surrendered four home runs in those starts. Kremer is scheduled to start the opener on Friday and will hope to revert to his prior form and set the table for the rest of the series.
Can Ryan Mountcastle escape his slump?
5-for-46, also known as a .109 batting average. That is the slump that Ryan Mountcastle has been mired in since July 22.
The young slugger has seen his OPS drop fifty points from .775 to .725 with troubling trends appearing when examining his wOBA, chase rate, and HardHit%; the latter two especially are telltale signs of a struggling hitter.
Mountcastle’s batted ball profile is still impressive though, plate discipline notwithstanding, so there’s no need to smash the panic button. A breakout against the Pirates would go great lengths to assuage the concerns of Orioles fans.
Warehouse Watch: Oneil Cruz
For those unfamiliar, Oneil Cruz is an anomalous shortstop that almost makes one empathetic towards inanimate baseballs. At 6’7, Cruz uses his giant frame to generate ferocious power in all facets of his game. Baseballs implode upon impact with his bat; he sits in the 99th percentile of average exit velocity and can hit mammoth moonshots with a simple flick of the wrists. Defensively, Cruz routinely hurls it around the diamond at speeds just under 100 MPH. Oh, and he’s also one of the fastest players in baseball.
There’s a robust helping of swing and miss in Cruz’s game as his .219 average and 34.9% strikeout rate indicate, but if anyone has the juice required to cross Eutaw Street and doink one off of the warehouse (ideally during a Pirates loss), it’s Oneil Cruz.
Baltimore Orioles: three things to watch during Pirates series
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 Friday night. Get your rain repelling rituals ready!