The Yankees are back in the Bronx and start a three game series against the Orioles this evening. The toughest stretch of the team’s schedule (to date) is over, and now, the Bombers have a pretty light schedule upcoming. It’s time to clean up and make some of the teams ahead of them in the standings feel some heat.
Nothing short of a sweep will be satisfactory here. The Orioles are the doormat of the American League and should be handled accordingly. Sure, the Birds are 6-4 over their last ten games, but there’s really no excuse to drop a game here. Let’s catch up with the Orioles right after the break.
Their Story So Far
There’s really not much to say about the 2021 Baltimore Orioles. They’re a bad team that peaked in its first series of the regular season, when Brandon Hyde’s club swept the Red Sox to start 3-0. I suppose John Means no-hitter was a second peak, but you get where I’m going here. Because otherwise, the O’s are dreadful. They lost fourteen straight games in May, have a -137 run differential, and at 37-67, have the second-worst record in the majors.
The Yankees will miss the aforementioned Means in this series, but the two other standouts for Baltimore this year are Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini. The former is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball this season and was an All-Star. The latter, who I’ll expand upon in the spotlight section, is having a strong season himself.
Means, Mullins, and Mancini make for a nice trio, but far from enough to get Baltimore out of the tank. 2021 will be the team’s fifth-straight sub-.500 season and their fourth last place finish in five years. There are some big prospects down on the farm, but this has been a dreadful tank. Perhaps Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez represent lights at the end of the tunnel, but for now, Orioles fans have a pretty awful team. Hey, at least there’s…2023? Maybe?
|Player||Position||Injury||Roster Status||Estimated Return|
|Chris Davis||1B||Hip surgery||60-day IL||2022|
|Richie Martin||SS||Fractured wrist||60-day IL||2022|
|Bruce Zimmermann||LHP||Biceps tendinitis||10-day IL||Mid-August|
|Hunter Harvey||RHP||Strained lat||10-day IL||Mid-August|
|Travis Lakins Sr.||RHP||Elbow surgery||60-day IL||2022|
|Tanner Scott||LHP||Knee discomfort||10-day IL||Mid-August|
|Tyler Wells||RHP||Wrist tendinitis||10-day IL||Early-August|
Spotlight: Trey Mancini
You’ve surely have heard or read about what Trey Mancini’s been through since 2020, but let’s rehash things quickly. In spring training last year, before COVID-19 suspended the beginning of the season, doctors discovered and removed a malignant tumor from Mancini’s colon. He later revealed that he had stage 3 colon cancer, started chemotherapy in early April 2020, and missed all of the season once it resumed.
Mancini finished treatment last fall and resumed baseball activities over the winter with a goal to be ready for spring training. And ready he was: Baltimore’s first baseman completed camp and has been one of the Orioles’ stalwarts all year long.
Mancini has played in 101 of the team’s 104 games this year and is essentially the same player he was pre-cancer. It’s a remarkable comeback; he’s almost certainly going to win the Comeback Player of the Year award.. This season, Mancini owns a .262/.330/.474 (120 wRC+) slash line and has hit 19 homers in 423 plate appearances. He entered this season with a career batting line of .276/.335/.486 (116 wRC+), which goes to show that he’s fully back. And only Cedric Mullins (154 wRC+), who I profiled very early this year before we realized he was breaking out, has hit better than Mancini for the O’s.
Although Mancini wasn’t named to the All-Star team, he did participate in this year’s Home Run Derby. And if it wasn’t for Mets’ first baseman Pete Alonso being ridiculously good in this event, Mancini would have won the competition’s crown. Mancini put on a show, too, hitting 22 homers in that final round.
The Derby hasn’t hurt Mancini’s stroke like we occasionally hear about with other participants. Since the break, the 29 year-old had a 148 wRC+ and three dingers in 65 plate appearances. Cooling Mancini (and Mullins) off will be a key for the Yankees’ pitching staff this series.
- Cedric Mullins, CF (.321/.385/.544, 154 wRC+)
- Trey Mancini, 1B (.262/.330/.474, 120 wRC+)
- Ryan Mountcastle, DH (.254/.301/.451, 103 wRC+)
- Anthony Santander, RF (.228/.278/.380, 79 wRC+)
- Ramón Urías, SS (.283/.355/.408, 114 wRC+)
- DJ Stewart, LF (.206/.322/.348, 91 wRC+)
- Pedro Severino, C (.231/.308/.372, 88 wRC+)
- Maikel Franco, 3B (.213/.259/.372, 72 wRC+)
- Pat Valaika, 2B (.199/.256/.290, 52 wRC+)
- Austin Wynns, C (.161/.200/.290, 31 wRC+)
- Domingo Leyba, INF (.154/.236/.215, 30 wRC+)
- Austin Hays, OF (.237/.294/.422, 96 wRC+)
- Ryan McKenna, OF (.191/.301/.258, 63 wRC+)
Tonight, 7:05pm eastern:
RHP Jorge López (72 ERA+)
It’s remarkable how long Baltimore has stuck with López, who has a 6.19 ERA in 96 innings this season and a 6.08 mark for his career (324.1 innings). This will be his fourth outing against the Yankees this season, and the previous three haven’t been good (8.44 ERA). (Stats vs. Yankees)
LHP Andrew Heaney (88 ERA+)
Tonight will be Heaney’s first start in pinstripes, who was acquired at the deadline last week. Hopefully his performance will catch up to his solid peripherals (4.22 FIP, 28.2% K%, 7.7% BB%), as his 5.27 ERA is a little scary. Perhaps the Yankees have an adjustment in store. (Stats vs. Orioles)
Tomorrow, 7:05pm eastern:
LHP Alexander Wells (86 ERA+)
The 24 year-old rookie will make his third career start (and fifth career appearance) tomorrow. He’s a soft-tossing lefty (88.4 MPH fastball velocity), though he was on MLB Pipeline’s top-30 Orioles prospects entering this season. (Never faced the Yankees)
RHP Gerrit Cole (140 ERA+)
Cole’s coming off a brutal start against the Rays, but Baltimore should be a great opponent for the ace to bounce back. He shut down the O’s back in April, striking out 13 over 7 shutout innings. I’ll take that performance again, please. (Stats vs. Orioles)
Wednesday, 7:05pm eastern:
RHP Matt Harvey (72 ERA+)
Harvey enters this game on a roll: he’s thrown six-plus shutout innings in each of his last three starts. They didn’t come against lineups like the Yankees, though: Kansas City, Washington, and Detroit. Yet, he did shut down the Yankees in his one start against them this year, throwing six innings of one run ball in late-April. (Stats vs. Yankees)
RHP Jameson Taillon (106 ERA+)
Like Harvey, Taillon is in the midst of a strong stretch. The righty owns a 2.28 ERA over his last eight starts and a 1.16 mark in his previous four. It took a while, but this is what we’ve been waiting for from Taillon. Better, in fact. He faced the Orioles back on April 7 and allowed two runs in 4.2 innings, striking out 7. (Stats vs. Orioles)
|Paul Fry (L)||8||10|
|Keegan Akin (L)||13|