We get an interesting MLB clash at Camden Yards tonight, as an AL East rivalry heats up with the Tampa Bay Rays visiting the Baltimore Orioles. Both teams are simply floundering around .500 ball in the competitie AL East and will try to start righting the ship in game one of this intense series.
The Orioles just got done dispatching the Jays not too long ago with a 2-1 series win and also got past the rival Blue Jays in their most recent series. Baltimore is still ust 5-5 over their last 10 games, but have been heating up recently with 4 wins in their last 5 contests. That success could easily continue tonight, as they’ll be playing at their home park, where they’ve gone a stellar 24-14 on the year.
Baltimore will still be without masher Chris Davis (oblique) and they’ll be hosting a team that has been slightly better than them by the numbers. Tampa Bay stills backs into this tough road matchup, as they’ve dropped two straight and are also just 5-5 over their last 10 games. The Rays could get instant revenge after dropping their most recent series against the O’s, but could find that difficult on the road, where they’ve gone just 17-22 in 2017.
Division showdowns tend to be toss-ups, but we could get some solid value in this one. Let’s dive in and see which angle you should bet on this one:
Tampa Bay Rays (-124) @ Baltimore Orioles (+104) Total: 11
Jacob Faria (3-0, 2.10 ERA) vs. Chris Tillman (1-5, 8.39 ERA)
It certainly makes plenty of sense that Vegas likes the Rays. Faria has been a rookie sensation, Baltimore’s offense has been extremely hit or miss and Chris Tillman has been flat out abysmal. Still, in a world where Ubaldo Jimenez can pitch a gem and the Orioles are the underdogs at home, we probably need to look for ways to back Baltimore in this spot.
I won’t waste much time on Tillman. He was surprisingly strong for the O’s in 2016 and as bad as it sounds, was supposed to again be this team’s best arm. He’s regressed horribly, giving up loads of hard contact and simply allowing too many runs. Tillman is really failing across the board, as he’s giving up too much contact in general, struggling with command and having a difficult time lasting deep into games.
None of that will get a whole lot easier in a hitter’s park against a Rays offense that just slapped him around to the tune of 8 hits and 4 runs in his last start. More importantly, Tampa Bay destroys right-handed pitching (7th in HR) and connects on it pretty well (7th), as well. It’s fair to point out two things, though; Tillman was on the road in that last start and his home ERA (still disgustingly bad) is half of what his road ERA is. In addition, Tillman could regain some solid form, while he doesn’t have atrocious numbers (6-4, 3.56 ERA) in his last three seasons against these Rays.
Any backing of Tillman is admittedly flimsy, so if we’re taking the Orioles we need to find a hole or three in Faria. There actually could be reason to go against the 23-year old rookie. For one, the Orioles were the first team to actually get to him a little bit in his last start. A still dangerous Baltimore lineup notched 5 hits (2 home runs) and scored three times in an 8-3 win.
Farcia had previously been impeccable, walking just four batters and giving up just three total runs during a 3-0 start to his career. We need to remember the sample size is awfully small here and this is a rookie still. It is entirely possible the wheels could start to come off a bit here – if only for a brief moment – in a tough park against a team with plenty of power. The fact that we saw signs of that in his home base should cause some mild concern.
We also should pay some mind to the hard contact he’s allowing, as well as the splits. Faria has a nice K rate and has avoided too many walks early on, but he’s also allowed 8+ fly balls in every single start. In this park against this lineup, that trend could prove to be disastrous if things don’t go just right. Add in Baltimore’s strong power (11th in HR versus righties) and we’re convinced Faria might have a tougher time than Vegas thinks.
For some that will pull them to a pretty gaudy Over. This Total is far too inflamed for our liking, so we’ll instead trust in Baltimore’s offense to heat up a bit at home. We’ll also need Tillman to at least be serviceable, and while that may be a reach right now, a solid outing may just be around the corner. It could all come together in this one for the Orioles and they provide decent value.