Baltimore Orioles Series Preview with Birds Watcher


The Astros finish out the week long road trip with a 3-game series in Baltimore against the Orioles. Fresh off a 3-game sweep of the Rays in Tampa, Buck Showalter‘s team now sits in first place in the American League East. To get a closer look at the Orioles, I engaged in a brief Q & A session with Domenic Vadala, Editor at FanSided’s Birds Watcher.

Thanks for Climbing the Hill with us Domenic. Let’s get right to it.

CTH: A rare 3-game sweep of the Rays in Tampa vaults the Orioles into first place entering the Houston series. What has been the key to the team’s success while their best run producer, Chris Davis, is on the disabled list?

DV: Clutch hitting and a strong bullpen. The Orioles haven’t been hitting the ball out of the park as often, however they are coming up with big hits that drive runners in. Furthermore, while the starters aren’t going as deep into games as they would like, the bullpen is picking up the slack and recording outs in big points of games.

CTH: We’ve heard the words “Tommy John surgery” and Matt Wieters mentioned in the same sentence this week. What’s the latest on the Orioles catcher?

DV: Wieters is going to be fine. He had some strain in his elbow, however it’s nothing that some additional rest and some stints as a DH won’t fix. According to Dr. James Andrews, Wieters is “not a candidate for Tommy John surgery at this time.”

CTH: The Astros won’t face Bud Norris in the series. I think a lot of Houston fans miss Bud and his bubbly personality. How have Orioles fans taken to him and how does he fit into the team’s future plans?

Bud Norris (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

DV: Quite honestly, I’m afraid that Oriole fans have turned into a bit of a cynical bunch. Perhaps that’s due to so much losing over time, or more realistically it’s probably just “east coast arrogance” (of which I’m also guilty by the way). But Norris has been criticized by numerous fans for not going deep into games, and nibbling on the strike zone.

Personally I think he’s been an upgrade to the Orioles’ rotation since the trade last year, and he comes across as a solid starting pitcher — and as you said a bubbly type of personality. As for the future, that really depends on how things work out with various players. If Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are ready to become starters for the Orioles, Norris might not necessarily figure into their plans. However, as is the case in all things with the Orioles, it also comes down to how much Norris is willing to sign for.

CTH: Which Astros player (if any) scares you the most?

DV: I’m going to throw you a curve on that question and say that the guy who would scare me the most would be Houston’s third base coach, Dave Trembley. He managed the Orioles for some time — and most of the current core group of players were on the team. Trembley presumably knows everyone’s weaknesses as well as their strengths, and that can be a dangerous thing.

Thanks for the great insight from Domenic, Yeah! I think his comments on Trembley are right on. What a great, unexpected answer. I also like what he says about the O’s bullpen getting key extra outs to help win games. That’s one thing the Astros have been missing for a long time. If those trends continue this could be a rough series for the Astros.

Here are this weekend’s pitching matchups and start times.

Scott Feldman returns from the D.L. to face his former team. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Friday 6:05 pm CDT:

Scott Feldman (2-1, 1.69 ERA) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (3-2, 4.24 ERA)

Saturday 6:05 p.m. CDT:

Collin McHugh (2-1, 2.79 ERA) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (1-3, 5.28 ERA)

Sunday 12:35 pm CDT:

Jarred Cosart (1-3, 4.50 ERA) vs. Chris Tillman (3-1, 3.80 ERA)