The Baltimore Orioles head home Thursday night after finishing their most recent road trip 3-3 and welcome the Kansas City Royals to town. The Birds have already faced the Royals this season, taking two out of three games in Kansas City to start the month of May. Baltimore will look to win the season series with at least two more wins this weekend.
Baltimore Orioles series preview vs the Kansas City Royals
The Orioles are 38-24 and have been one of baseball's best teams. However, they enter this series against the Royals a bit shaky. The Birds have lost three of their last four series' and have been inconsistent both offensively and with pitching. With Cedric Mullins on the IL, it seems like the Orioles could use a jolt of energy to get them back on track. The team returning to Baltimore for a six game home stand seems like the perfect time to call Colton Cowser up to the big leagues.
Cowser, the Orioles #2 prospect (#29 overall), is having an incredible year for Triple-A Norfolk. He's already the two time player of the week and he's batting .347/.484/.590 with a 1.074 OPS for the season. Cowser was reinstated from a brief stint on the IL on June 3 and he did not missed a beat. In Cowser's three game since his return, he is 4-6 with a double, home run, four RBI's and a 5/1 BB/K ratio. Heston Kjerstad and Hudson Haskin were recently promoted to Norfolk, so it would only make sense that Cowser finally get the call this weekend.
The Orioles have an opportunity to build some confidence in this series. The Royals are 18-44 and are coming to Baltimore after being swept by the Miami Marlins. With the exception of Tyler Wells, Orioles starters have been struggling to get deep into games and three games against the 27th ranked offense could be very helpful. The Royals do have some talented hitters and should not be taken lightly. They did score 23 runs against the O's in the series in May but are struggling at the moment.
Game one will see Wells take the mound for the Orioles on Friday and he'll continue to make a case to be the Orioles ace. Wells has had great control and has struck out 39 batters in his last 28.1 innings. He'll go against Daniel Lynch for the Royals, making his third start season. Lynch has the ability to strike batters out but has struggled with his command. If Orioles hitters can be patient at the plate, they should be able to get plenty of pitches to hit.
The Orioles have not announced a starter for game two of the series in the rotation spot vacated by Grayson Rodriguez. GrayRod has shown positive signs in Norfolk but is not yet eligible to return to the Orioles roster. The team could try another bullpen game, but after the 12 run fiasco in Cleveland and the O's long relievers in Keegan Akin, Austin Voth and Bruce Zimmerman all having pitched in the last three days, a bullpen game seems unlikely.
All signs point to a return for Cole Irvin. Irvin got off to a rocky start this season but appears to have righted the ship. In seven starts for Norfolk, Irvin is 6-1 with a 3.21 ERA and appears ready to be the reliable arm the O's traded for in the offseason.
Regardless of who the Orioles send to the mound in game two, the Royals will hand Brady Singer the ball. Singer is 4-4 on the season with a 6.45 ERA. He is coming off of his best start this season that saw him pitch 5.2 innings against the Colorado Rockies, without allowing a run for the first time this year. The Birds will be able to deploy their left handed hitters against Singer and try to spoil his day.
Kyle Gibson will get the ball for game three of the series. Gibson has seven wins this season, tied for fifth in the majors, and his 76.2 innings pitched is 15th. He will look to avenge his first loss this season that came against the Royals, when Gibson was shelled for six earned runs on 10 hits. Gibson is 3-0 in his last four starts and has been every bit of the pitcher the Orioles have needed him to be. The Royals have yet to announce their starter for Sunday's game.
The Orioles will be looking to do big damage to the Royals in front of their home crowd. Birds fans might even get the treat of seeing Cowser's debut. The matchup with the Royals is an enticing one. Let's see how is plays out.