Magic Number: 35
Just in case you're still smarting after the last three days, look at that number a few more times before continuing on with this preview.
The Rangers just got swept for the first time since the All-Star Break. You may have scrubbed the last sweep from your memory, and if so, I don't blame you. If not, what's about to start today may just terrify you.
In what now seems like a different season, the Orioles managed a dramatic, crushing four-game sweep in Arlington. They hit two-out grand slams off of Neftali Feliz. They slapped around Cliff Lee. They won four games on the road. It was an improbable series, and what's happened since then with the Rangers has only made it more seem more improbable (and inconsequential).
For many, however, that Orioles sweep still looked terrifying. And Baltimore has won 10 of their last 16, the hottest they've been all season as their young players start to mature like they were supposed to before they play another four games against Texas. And the Rangers are playing a whole lot of scrubs instead of the stars they actually had in the last series. And the games are now in Camden Yards. It's frightening to look at these things and worry about what the Rangers could look like in four days.
But, rest assured, the Orioles are worse than the Rangers. Even with Andres Blanco starting, the Orioles are worse than the Rangers. Even at home, the Orioles are worse than the Rangers.
In other words, the Rangers had better win this.
By the way, Baltimore is now managed by someone named Showalter. Anyone familiar with him?
FanGraphs' Top Five Orioles In 2010
- Luke Scott, DH: 377 PA, .296/.361/.573, 22/1 HR/SB, .397 wOBA, 2.5 WAR
- Nick Markakis, RF: 531 PA, .288/.369/.432, 8/5 HR/SB, -2/-5.5 DRS/UZR, .351 wOBA, 1.9 WAR
- Adam Jones, CF: 504 PA, .281/.320/.450, 17/4 HR/SB, -1/-4.5 DRS/UZR, .331 wOBA, 1.8 WAR
- Matt Wieters, C: 378 PA, .240/.320/.374, 10 HR, 2 DRS, .306 wOBA, 1.6 WAR
- Brian Matusz, SP: 129.2 IP, 6.94 K/9, 3.54 BB/9, 5.28 ERA, 4.52 tERA, 4.37 FIP, 4.75 xFIP, 1.5 WAR
Probable Orioles Lineup
- 2B Brian Roberts
- RF Nick Markakis
- 1B Ty Wigginton
- DH Luke Scott
- CF Adam Jones
- LF Felix Pie
- C Matt Wieters
- SS Cesar Izturis
- 3B Josh Bell
- LHP Brain Matusz vs. RHP Colby Lewis
- RPH Jake Arrieta vs. LHP C.J. Wilson
- RHP Brad Bergesen vs. LHP Cliff Lee
- RHP Kevin Millwood vs. RHP Tommy Hunter
If you're paying close attention, you'll notice I've switched from xFIP, what I usually use in the graphs, for FIP. The reason is simply to be more in line with wOBA, which doesn't regress a hitters' production and I've been using for the offensive comparisons. So, from now on, on the pitchers' graph I will be using standard Fielding Independent Pitching that does not regress home run rates, it holds pitchers responsible for all of them. I will still be using regression in the projections, however. If anyone doesn't like this, please let me know.
Here's the image of a really bad fielding team and a really good fielding team, even with some of its good players hurt. The Orioles outfield should probably be better (though I contend Adam Jones is overrated), but, so far, it hasn't been too good in 2010.
I continue to wonder what's up with Elvis. While I certainly believe UZR and DRS aren't capturing his talent level this season (nor are they designed to), I'm not going to disagree that he's been disappointing this season. But why I have no clue, because he certainly shows the ability to grab balls few, if any, other shortstops can get to, and the arm is incredible to make the play after. And yet little dribblers that shouldn't go by him, or he picks up a ball and just drops it. Some of it is certainly small sample size stuff, but, for whatever reason, he doesn't seem to be making the most of his ability in the field this year, eye test or stats test.
Now to plug these components in and simulate:
Thanks to a little bit of improvement, a bunch of Rangers injuries, and the games being on the Road, the Orioles have a better shot in this series than the last, but it still heavily favors the Rangers. Texas at least gets a split a whopping 83% of the time, and wins the series almost half the time (just over 48% to be exact). A split is actually the most common event, but by less than a whole percentage point over taking three out of four.
And then there's that 2%. That's the chances of the Orioles taking all four. That would mean beating each of the Rangers' three best pitchers. That would mean taking the final eight straight games in the season series. That would mean panic across Texas fandom. 2% means it's almost a lock to not happen, but last time the chances were even worse and it happened. It's a lesson that anything possible can and eventually will occur.
But it can't happen twice, right?
As always, go Rangers.
13% sweep, 83% split, 48% win 2% swept, split slightly more likely than 3/4