Now would be a really, really convenient time for the Red Sox to start hitting again. Just spray those line drives all over the pl- oh. They’re playing the Orioles. Whelp, time to consider every line drive hit as an out, since all Baltimore does is catch them.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES – 57-46, 3rd place in the AL East (4.0 GB)
The Orioles just won’t go away. Their offense is no pushover, that’s for sure, as the team is fourth in the majors in wOBA, but their pitching…I can’t explain it. Via FIP, the only team worse than them is the Astros and they’re 28th in the majors in xFIP. Yet they keep on trucking, being 11 games over .500 and whatnot. I’m still not really sure how this team wins as many games as they do.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
1 – Nate McLouth – LF – .282/.352/.413
- McLouth is back to doing what made him good in Pittsburgh: not striking out, getting on base at a decent clip, and subsequently stealing bases.
- He won’t ever hit 26 homers again like he did in 2008, but he’s making up for it by racking up doubles and the occasional triple.
- Decent fielder, but he gets his non-hitting value from his baserunning more than his glove.
2 – Manny Machado – 3B – .301/.328/.457
- DOUBLES ON DOUBLES ON DOUBLES ON DOUBLES ON DOUBLES ON DOUBLES.
- If you haven’t seen the highlights yet, Machado is a fantastic fielder. He’s an artist at third base, and his glove is the paintbrush.
- His BABIP’s hovering around .350, so if it hasn’t already started, you could see a regression in his slash line soon.
3 – Nick Markakis – RF – .285/.336/.390
- This is some, uh, curious lineup construction by Buck Showalter. Markakis isn’t inept with the bat, but there are far better choices to be penciled in here.
- Doesn’t have a lot of power, and he hits a lot of liners & grounders…it’s like he was made for hitting into double plays.
- .318 wOBA, 97 wRC, 0.6 fWAR…at this point, he’s just a warm body for the outfield.
4 – Adam Jones – CF – .292/.321/.496
- Presenting the 4th hitter in the lineup, All-Star Adam Jones with a 3.4% walk rate! Woo! Go American League!
- To his credit, Jones has shown a steady increase in his power numbers since 2010. Had a .218 ISO in 2012.
- Really not as good as a fielder as most think he is. Over the last 4 seasons, he’s had -26 Defensive Runs Saved. Negative. Twenty. Six.
5 – Chris Davis – 1B – .307/.382/.687
- I keep staring at that slugging percentage and wondering if that’s real. It is, right? Someone didn’t have a typo or anything?
- Davis is not a guy that’ll keep the bat on his shoulder, so he’ll whiff a lot. 29% strikeout rate. He makes his contact matter.
- 5 fWAR already, which means he’ll probably be a dark horse for MVP since Trout & Cabrera are duking it out again.
6 – Matt Wieters – C – .250/.307/.438
- We’ve been told to wait for Wieters’ breakout season. Unless it was his 4.6 fWAR campaign in 2011, I don’t think we’ll ever see it.
- Virtually identical ISO marks in his last three seasons: .188, .186, .188. At least he’s got consistent power, especially for a catcher.
- His defense is still very good, and it’s always been a huge part of his fWAR totals over his career.
7 – J.J. Hardy – SS – .251/.292/.426
- Hardy’s got to post great power numbers to keep his bat above average since he can’t hit for contact. Gives him some pretty bad BABIP numbers as a result.
- He’s on pace to get over 20 homers for the 3rd straight season, which is pretty rare stuff from a shortstop.
- I feel like he doesn’t get enough credit for his defense. He’s consistently been a very good fielder at short over his career.
8 – Henry Urrutia – DH – .350/.350/.450 (in 20 PA)
- Fresh call-up from the minors. Knowing the trend with call-ups this year, he’ll probably hit .500 for two weeks before finally cooling off.
- Had less than 300 PA in the minors, so it’s hard to really predict anything. But he crushed the ball in that small sample.
- I’m also seeing a BABIP over .400 in that sample as well, so some luck was definitely involved there.
9 – Brian Roberts – 2B – .269/.314/.410 (in 87 PA)
- Yes, I’m shocked too – Brian Roberts is actually playing and not sidelined by some serious injury that he always seems to suffer.
- Hitting-wise, he used to be a Manny Machado prototype: doubles all over the damn place. Had 56 of them in ’09.
- Those injuries have somewhat sapped his ability to be as good as a fielder as he used to be. Dayum shame.
Who’s hot? – Last 14 games
- Adam Jones: 4 HR, 10 RBI, 211 wRC
- Matt Wieters: .389 AVG, 2 HR, .452 wOBA
Who’s not? – Last 14 games
- Manny Machado: .167 AVG, .238 SLG, 8 wRC
- Nick Markakis: 1 RBI, .300 SLG, .284 wOBA
It’s a shame Lackey wasn’t able to Lacktate all over the Rays, so he’ll set his sights on the Orioles instead. Tillman, on the other hand, has been a very curious pitcher. 4.88 FIP, a 83% LOB%…this guy is begging for regression to the mean and he’s just not getting it. The Sox should oblige him.
If Dempster can keep it down to, say, one long ball, he’ll have a chance against this power-stacked O’s lineup. Opposing him will be Scott Feldman, who has quietly been a solid pitcher over the years. He doesn’t walk a lot of guys and he limits home runs.
Lester seemed to have had a breakthrough last start, having not used his cutter in 0-2 counts at all from what I saw. He’ll look to keep this new strategy going against Hammel, who, unlike Feldman, has been walking a fair few guys and giving up quite a few dingers.
- Nothing new to report.
Usually I say something somber and/or encouraging here, but at this point, I’m just hoping some of the liners fall in this time. The Red Sox need this series to stay on top of the AL East.