After a thrilling final two games against the Tampa Bay Rays that saw the Orioles split the series and clinch a playoff spot, the Orioles head out on the road for a three game series against the leaders of the AL West in the Houston Astros.
Orioles travel to face Astros after clinching playoff spot
KNOW YOUR OPPONENT
The Astros enter this game having just lost two of three games to the basement dwelling Kansas City Royals, winning the final game 7-1 to avoid being swept. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games and have a +123 run differential on the season compared to a +122 run differential for the Orioles.
The Orioles and Astros previously met at Camden Yards in August, not long after the trade deadline. The Astros won the first two games before the Orioles salvaged the finale, with the season series standing at 2-1 in favor of Houston. If the Astros win one game, the best the Orioles could do is tie the season series at three wins each.
Monday, 9/18: John Means vs Justin Verlander
The Orioles ace in Means makes his second start of the season to open the series. The southpaw allowed three runs, five hits, and two home runs in five innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in his first start of the season, striking out one batter.
Now, Means will make his first start on the road this season. Going through his baseball reference splits, I was shocked to find that Means has not faced the Astros in his career, so there is a clean slate all around here.
Opposite Means, an ace in Verlander takes the mound for Houston. Since being traded at the deadline, Verlander sports a 3.86 ERA, 4.61 FIP, and 1.184 WHIP with the Astros, averaging 1.7 walks per nine and 8.3 strikeouts per nine in 49 innings and eight starts.
Tuesday, 9/19: TBD vs Hunter Brown
If the Orioles stay on turn with a six-man rotation, it would be Kyle Gibson's turn to start. On the season, the veteran has a 4.98 ERA, 4.13 FIP, and 1.323 WHIP, averaging 7.4 strikeouts per nine in 175 1/3 innings and 30 starts.
Gibson turned in a strong start against the Cardinals his last time out, allowing one run on three hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings, striking out four hitters. This will be the first time Gibson faces the Astros this season.
Brown, in the midst of his first full big league season, starts the middle game. Brown has a 4.61 ERA, 3.94 FIP, and 1.339 WHIP in 27 starts and one relief appearance, averaging 10.4 strikeouts per nine, 3.1 walks per nine, and 1.2 home runs per nine in 146 1/3 innings.
Wednesday, 9/20: TBD vs TBD
The series finale would be Kyle Bradish's turn to start if the Orioles stay on schedule. Bradish has a 1.087 WHIP, 3.12 ERA, and 3.41 FIP, averaging 8.8 strikeouts per nine and 2.3 walks per nine over 27 starts and 152 2/3 innings.
Bradish saw his four game win streak snap against the Tampa Bay Rays his last time out, allowing four runs on seven hits in seven innings, picking up five strikeouts as he was charged with his seventh loss of the season. Bradish has faced the Astros twice in his career, pitching 16 2/3 shutout innings with 16 strikeouts.
FanGraphs lists Cristian Javier as the projected starter for the Astros in the series finale. Javier enters this start with a 4.74 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, and 4.87 FIP over 146 1/3 innings, averaging 3.4 walks per nine and 8.5 strikeouts per nine in 28 starts.
After securing a playoff spot, the Orioles schedule doesn't get easier this week as they face the leaders of the AL West while trying to keep an arm's length away from the Rays in the AL East race. It will be a tough series, but let's play ball!