The Orioles are Facing a Detroit Tigers team still in the cellar.
The Orioles open a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers tonight, holding onto the loosest strings connected to a playoff spot. The Birds sit four games back of the Seattle Mariners, and this series against a losing team could very well be their last chance to stay in the race. The Orioles are 76-69, while the M’s are 80-65.
After a thrilling comeback win in Toronto, the O’s are carrying a bit of offensive momentum back to Camden Yards while an abysmal offense rolls into town. The Tigers are 55-91 and score only 3.3 runs per game. Their season is a monumental disappointment and well documented, but they did hire a new PBO today in Scott Harris.
This is your standard September matchup where one team is highly motivated to win, while the other is highly motivated to play the game regardless. The Tigers are looking at the young players they have to see who is part of the near future and maybe the longer-term future. The Orioles are certainly used to those circumstances, but they are playing young guys to help win games. While Detroit has high hopes for former top prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, they are not immediate stars like Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson.
Brandon Hyde is sending Tyler Wells to open the series against Tyler Alexander. Wells was the best starter on the Orioles before he got hurt, and the team is using him very carefully since he came off the IL. He threw 34 pitches in two innings on September 7 and then 50 pitches in four innings on September 14. That means he will probably have a limit around 70 tonight, but that could depend on how many are stress pitches.
Alexander has pitched in 23 games and 13 as a starter. His results are dramatically different, as he has an awful 6.87 ERA 13 home runs allowed in 56.1 innings as a starter, while he has a terrific 1.29 ERA and one home run allowed in 21 innings as a reliever. It might be time he comes out of the pen fulltime. Hyde is of course stacking the lineup with righties.
Austin Voth takes the bump against Joey Wentz. Voth relieved Wells last time out and only pitched one inning, so he is as rested as any pitcher can be in September. He’s gone six innings a couple times this year and has a good chance to surpass that high tomorrow. This will be only the second time he has faced the Tigers since he debuted in 2018.
Wentz, for his part, debuted in May and has made four Major League starts, two of which have come in September. He pitched 6.2 shutout innings on September 9 and then gave up two runs in four innings on the 14th. He is your typical lefty with pretty average stuff across the board, but he is good at limiting walks and homers. The Orioles hitters will have to watch out for his big curve.
Jordan Lyles will look to eat some innings in the finale against the talented Matt Manning. The O’s veteran has been struggling lately after the Red Sox teed off for eight runs and the Blue Jays managed four runs in five innings. Lyles can regroup against a less dangerous lineup, and a good outing can rebuild some confidence for the last week of the season.
Manning is one of the promising players the Tigers look to build around, but he has been hurt for much of the year. He has a strong 3.28 ERA in 11 starts, and only two were before he got hurt. He threw seven shutout innings last time out and has really only had one bad start this year. Wednesday will be Detroit’s best chance to win a game this series. Much like the Orioles, the strongest part of their roster is their bullpen, so knocking the starter out won’t be much of an advantage.