04 October 2016

What To Know For Tonight's Orioles-Blue Jays Wild Card Game

The Orioles and Blue Jays square off in the American League Wild Card Game tonight at Rogers Centre (8 p.m.). Here's what you need to know about the matchup:
  • The starting pitching matchup is Chris Tillman vs. Marcus Stroman. Some O's fans are wondering why Ubaldo Jimenez, the better pitcher as of late, isn't getting the nod. Meanwhile, some Blue Jays fans are curious why Francisco Liriano isn't starting against an O's lineup that has struggled mightily against lefties. If you're into the whole recency thing, both Liriano and Tillman pitched against each other just last week (Liriano was better, but the Orioles still won).

  • Chris Tillman is ready.

  • Having the right-handed Stroman on the mound should open the door for Hyun Soo Kim to start in left field. I'll predict that Kim will be somewhere in the lineup, along with Michael Bourn in right field and Mark Trumbo at DH. I don't think the Orioles want Trumbo in the outfield in a must-win game, and I also don't think Buck Showalter would be too upset about having Pedro Alvarez as a late-game pinch-hitting option. Don't be surprised if Showalter opts to use Bourn as the leadoff hitter, though Kim makes more sense at the top of the lineup.

  • This will be Trumbo's first playoff game. Trumbo made his major league debut in 2010, so tonight's game must be particularly exciting for him.

  • Tonight's game could also be the last time you see Matt Wieters and Mark Trumbo in an Orioles uniform. They're both free agents, and both will assuredly receive multi-year deals on the open market. Still, the Orioles could (and maybe should) extend the qualifying offer to both players, which at the very least would net the O's a couple of draft picks if they decline. If they don't, well, then you run things back in 2017 before a max exodus of players.

  • These two teams are evenly matched. They ended the season with identical 89-73 records. You might give Stroman a bit of a nod over Tillman, but they're at least comparable. And while the Blue Jays have a better lineup, the O's have the better bullpen. Anything can happen in one game, of course, even if these teams weren't close. You'd probably give Toronto a slight edge, but then again, they might end up seriously regretting not knocking the Orioles out of the playoff chase when they had the chance last week.


Pip said...

Or we could perpetually regret Buck not pulling Miley one inning earlier on Saturday. The Rogers center is the loudest place I can imagine, and when you add in the beer throwing and hat throwing, and incorrect Canadian spelling, it's just not a place you want to be.
Regarding the lineup, your logic is exactly the same as mine, we can only hope that Buck agrees.
Go Os!

Roger said...

As actual;ly happened last night, using Ubaldo as a reliever is an awful option. He has his worst problems in his first inning - in this case 5 pitches, 3 hits and a loss. I also agree with Pip that there was no good reason to let Miley pitch to one more batter (as I was screaming at the TV before the HR). Buck does SO many things right that it's hard to let him make a few mistakes in our heads. Pulling Tillman for Givens was brilliant at the time - a playoff move that he would not have made mid-season (same for Gibbons and Stroman). Why he used Ubaldo instead of Bundy, I'll never know. Once Ubaldo gave up two hits, he should have gone right to Britton. The same logic for pulling Tillman should have been used to pull Ubaldo. But the truth is that the O's had several innings to get a run or two and failed anyway. Considering the game went into extra innings the teams proved they were exactly as closely matched as everyone thought.

But just think, if the O's could have split with Boston at home instead of getting swept, they would have won the division. The whole year especially the AL East was very closely matched. Either the O's were significantly better than predicted or Buck is some kind of baseball super-genius.