Orioles to Beat Reds in Rather Ugly Pitching Matchup

Matthew Jordan

Monday, April 17, 2017 9:50 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 17, 2017 9:50 PM UTC

If before the season you circled Tuesday’s Baltimore at Cincinnati interleague matchup as one between teams that would be leading their division, well, congrats because I didn’t expect that. At least not with the Reds, who are home underdogs here.

MLB Season Record: 5-3

Baltimore Orioles At Cincinnati Reds

Keep in mind that the Orioles (8-3) will lose the designated hitter for this series in Cincinnati. That normally is Mark Trumbo, who led the majors with 47 homers last year. Trumbo didn’t find many takers on the free-agent market and re-signed with Baltimore for a below-market rate. He has been largely a bust in 2017 in hitting just .205 with a homer and six RBIs. Trumbo can play right field, although he’s not much of a defender. We will have to see what Buck Showalter decides to do. Great American Ball Park is hitter-friendly so Showalter might want Trumbo’s big bat in there.

The one of the majors’ biggest hitting surprises in Trey Mancini. The rookie is hitting .364 with four homers and nine RBIs in 22 at-bats. He debuted last year and played in five games with three homers and five RBIs. Mancini's seven home runs in his first 12 career games ties him with current Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (2016) and Dino Restelli (1949) for the most in the modern era.

If the Orioles take a lead into the bottom of the ninth inning of this one, All-Star lefty Zach Britton won’t be closing it out. He’s on the 10-day disabled list with left forearm soreness. That can often lead to much bigger problems, but the Orioles don’t think that’s the case here and Britton has no history of arm troubles. Britton has five saves and a 1.29 ERA this year and has converted 54 consecutive save chances dating back to September 2015, tied with Tom Gordon for the longest streak in AL history and the second-longest streak in MLB history. Eric Gagne holds the MLB record with 84 consecutive converted saves. Brad Brach likely will close with Britton out. Mychal Givens and Darren O'Day also are options.

That the Orioles lead the AL East with an 8-3 mark isn’t a huge shock; that Cincinnati is atop the NL Central at 8-5 is stunning – and not likely to last much longer. Cincinnati was just 68-94 last year and is playing a ton of young guys. The Reds, who have four starting pitchers on the DL, are Top 10 in runs and team ERA.  They had one of the worst bullpens in MLB history last year – the 103 home runs allowed were the most ever – but that group has a 2.65 ERA in 2017. Cincy is still a +2000 long shot on MLB odds to win the division. That’s not happening.


Probable Pitchers

It’s a couple of veteran right-handers in the twilight of their careers on the bump Tuesday night – they both might be pitching to save their rotation spots.

For the Birds, 33-year-old Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 10.38) gets the call. He at least has been consistent this year, allowing five earned runs in 4.1 innings in both starts, coming against the Yankees and Red Sox. The Orioles aren’t going to keep trotting him out there if this continues. You may also remember that Jimenez gave up the walk-off three-run homer to Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion in last year’s AL Wild-Card Game.

In six career starts against the Reds, Jimenez is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA. Only a few current Cincinnati players have faced him. Joey Votto is 5-for-15 with two doubles and four walks. Zack Cosart is 2-for-2 with a double and a walk.

UPDATE: Orioles shifted Jimenez to Wednesday and go with Kevin Gausman, who is 1-0 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts this year and has never faced Cincinnati. Like Baltimore even more now. 

Cincinnati counters with 40-year-old Bronson Arroyo. He was a fine pitcher for the Reds for the most part from 2006-2013 but then went to Arizona in 2014, wasn’t good and missed 2015-16 with injuries. He looks done at 0-2 with a 9.90 ERA. Arroyo is barely registering in the mid-80s. He always gave up a ton of homers and has allowed four already. The Orioles led the majors in homers last year and have hit 18 thus far in 2017.

Following his last outing Arroyo seemed resigned that his career might be nearly over: “The next two times out, if I don’t see something a little bit crisper and able to keep us in the ballgame a little bit better, maybe you’re at a dead-end street.”

I’m leaning Orioles here for my MLB pick because Arroyo is one of the NL's worst starters. Gausman is an upgrade on Jimenez for the Birds. 

MLB Free Pick: Orioles -144Best Line Offered: SportsBetting

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