There is an undeniable connection between the two professional baseball teams of Baltimore and Pittsburgh. They have faced each other in World Championship Twice (1971 & 79), with the Pirates winning both times. The two clubs have endured similar periods of promise and incompetence, particularly over the past 30 years.
Recently, both franchises have gone into an intentional (other) rebuild. In November of 2018, the Orioles family hired Mike Elias from Astros to supervise their efforts. Roughly one year later, pirate Ben Chirington lured away from the Blue Jays to recall the picks from their end.
Fast forward to 2022, and the Orioles are the ones who have progressed well in their goal of revitalizing a once-great team. If you are reading this site, you are aware of what birds have done so well. So, let’s talk about pirates instead.
Pittsburgh enters the weekend in third place at NL Central, but that position is a lot of fun. Their record is 43-62, and their running difference is -150, the second worst mark in baseball. It’s ugly, they’re just lucky to play in the worst league of baseball.
The biggest problem the pirates face is the lineup. They scored the fewest rounds in the NL and the third lowest in MLB, and that was with Daniel Vogelbach, who posted 116 OPS+ before being traded in mets. The team’s biggest remaining offensive force is quarterback Brian Reynolds, who they managed to hold during the trade deadline. But he even saw a comeback after the best season of his career in 2021.
Ke’Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz give reasons to be excited as a Pirates fan. Hayes is an elite third base defender, and his peripheral offensive numbers suggest that his stats sheet will ultimately look a lot better than the .669 OPS he currently has. Cruz, 23, is a beginner and has some predictable growing pains (.202/.236/.393 in July), but he’s also a physical geek at 6-foot-7 and can run like a deer and has a cannonball from a shortstop position.
There isn’t much interest in what’s going on on the hill, especially since they’ve traded Jose Quintana. Bullpen may be in for a bit of a mess in the series as David Bednar (and his 12.15K/9 average) hit IL with a back sore this week.
Game 1: Friday, August 5, 7:05 p.m., MASN
RHB Dean Kramer (3-3, 3.86 ERA) vs. RHB Mitch Keeler (3-7, 4.37 ERA)
July was tough on Dean Kramer. Hitters hit him at a 0.934 OPS last month, and he made five home runs after giving up only one in the entire month of June. He cannot be allowed to face the squad for the third time. Over 10 starts, the speculators hit 0.722 against him when they face off for the third time. Hopefully, the start against the troubled pirates will allow some leeway.
Mitch Keeler will likely step into the “ace” hole vacated by Quintana, and his performance in July ensures that. He had a 2.61 ERA over five starts, each one lasting at least six rounds. The 26-year-old has been really good in his last four starts, allowing five earned runs over 25 runs while hitting 21 and five walks.
Game 2: Saturday, August 6, 5:05 p.m., MASN 2
RHP Austin Voth (1-1, 5.54 ERA) vs. RHP JT Brubaker (2-9, 4.40 ERA)
It defies logic, but Voth continues to roll out competitive outings for the Orioles. His ERA since joining the Birds is 2.84, and his ERA+ is 134, and he hits nearly the mix in every run. He’s getting better too. His last outing was the best of the year. The 30-year-old threw a season-high 77 throws, five throws, and hit six.
Brubaker is in the midst of his best season in the league. The 28-year-old is on his way to a career high in the roles as he has remained healthy throughout the year and has averaged production in the league while hitting more than one hit per inning. However, he was starting to head in the wrong direction. Both ERA and WHIP have been up in the last couple of months, and have been crushed on their last start: 4.1 IP, 12H, 7R, 0 BB, 4 SO.
Game 3: Sunday, August 7, 1:35 p.m., MASN 2
RHB Spencer Watkins (4-1, 3.80 ERA) vs. RHB Bryce Wilson (1-6, 6.20 ERA)
The Orioles would be in a much tougher position without the contributions of Voth and Watkins in the rotation. Perhaps Watkins is even more surprising because he’s already spent a season organizing, and there doesn’t seem to be much potential to uncover. Instead, he flipped the switch, and just put up the best month of his career, allowing six wins over 23 runs in July and then starting August with a gem against Rangers.
Wilson’s overall numbers look much worse than the bowler who has taken the hill since returning from a minor league stint mid-season. Promoted again to Pittsburgh on July 2. Since then, the Right has 3.62 ERA over 27.1 innings. However, there are some accessories that do not look good for him. He only hit 15 hits and opponents have a 0.833 OPS against him. The biggest improvement was the dramatic decrease in the number of walks – only three at the time.
How many matches will the Orioles win in this series against the Pirates?
Total votes 208