The joy of baseball. The Orioles just finished up one series against the leader of the A.L. East, and now they get to see the leader of the N.L. East. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again; whoever makes the schedules sucks.
The Orioles look to right a lot of wrongs in this series. In the middle of a 15-game losing streak, I, nor anyone associated with the Orioles, cares about a series win. We just want A WIN. One is good enough for us here. However, Atlanta is a very hard team to beat, especially as of late. The Braves are 13-2 in their last 15, including wins in their last six.
Due to an ankle injury during training, Bruce Zimmermann will not be pitching again. Because of that, the O’s are sending out Keegan Akin for game one of this series. Behind him will be Matt Harvey and John Means.
During a horrific losing streak like the Orioles are experiencing right now, everything just seems to go wrong. For John Means, that couldn’t be any more true. He has allowed a new season-high in runs in his last two starts, and this one will come against another offense with some firepower. However, it is his bobblehead night Saturday, so who knows?
On the offensive side, look for Jorge Mateo to continue to produce. His 10-game hit streak leads the Orioles at the moment, and we could really use some more of that.
In order to take a game in this series, these Baltimore Battery ❌-Factors must produce!
The first ❌-Factor is actually John Means. Since returning from injury, Means simply hasn’t been great. We have watched his perfect 5-0 record and under two ERA completely vanish. However, a couple of teams who have beat him up as of late are teams who have seen a lot of Means this year. This series against the Braves gives Means his first career outing against this team. History shows those first time match-ups usually favor the pitcher. If Means is able to get ahead of batters early and be able to use his full arsenal of pitches, including his changeup, he will be fine. What will break Means is leaving balls up and letting the Braves have a home run party. The home run ball certainly has been Means’ biggest flaw so far in his career.
The next ❌-Factor is our MVP candidate center fielder, Cedric Mullins. On pace for 200 hits and, potentially, the O’s first 30/30 season, it’s almost redundant to say he is a factor. However, his production is almost single-handedly the key for the O’s. During this 15-game losing streak, Mullins is 15-for-62. This is good, but it’s not Cedric Mullins level. This cold streak means he is due to break out. And once Cedric starts heating up, we all know the things he can do to help his team win. What we desperately need in this series is for Mullins to heat up. When he does, that carries over into the rest of the lineup. Not to mention, he is one of the best base runners in all of baseball, and having him on base as much as possible is necessary for an Orioles victory.
In other news, the Orioles have designated RHP César Valdez for assignment. Also, RHP Chris Ellis has been claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays.
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