The New York Yankees are heading into a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles beginning Monday night, and if they want to capitalize on Baltimore’s recent struggles, they will need to make sure their starting pitching out-duels the Birds’.
The Orioles have lost five straight games going into this series, which is worrisome for any Yankees fans that know that the law of averages evens out and the O’s are due for a win.
But their main problem is pitching: while they can score runs (they are in the top 10 in the majors in runs, batting average, and slugging percentage), they have trouble putting up zeroes on the other end.
Baltimore is in the bottom 10 in almost every pitching category, including ERA, quality starts, WHIP, and batting average against. If the Yankees want to win another series and hold their AL East lead, they need to exploit this weakness so the Orioles don’t have a chance to get back on the winning side until they play Toronto later in the week.
Despite the pitching problems, the Orioles are still a tough team to win a series against. As previously mentioned, their offense has been stellar, with young Alex Rodriguez-like Manny Machado and Chris Davis getting off to very impressive starts.
The Yanks have the ability to win all three games against the O’s and further separate themselves from the Birds, who are four games back in the division. The key will be the starting pitching and if the Yankees can continue the recent trend of quality starts by their rotation, their offense will hopefully prove the stats right and get some runs for the team.
Monday night’s game will feature a match up of two former teammates: C.C. Sabathia and Freddy Garcia. Garcia, who was on the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, was recently added to the Oriole’s roster to fill a starting pitcher slot, and has gotten progressively worse in his three starts.
He has a 5.51 ERA over the small season sample, and had a rough last start against the San Diego Padres in which he gave up four runs in 3.2 innings. But, he will likely be mentally ready and excited to play his former team, and ready to prove that he is worth keeping.
Sabathia is undoubtedly the better pitcher, and although his fastball velocity has decreased from last year, he has been effective enough to garner four wins and 54 strikeouts. If he can go six or seven innings without surrendering to a hit parade, the Yankees have a clear shot to take the first game of the series.
The starting pitching that the Orioles are putting up is no match for the Yankees’, so hopefully they can take advantage and make the law of averages wait a little longer to kick in.
Holly Berkowitz is a New York Yankees writer for rantsports.com. Follow her on Twitter @hollyberry9118.