Thursday, April 3, 2008

Series Preview: M's at Orioles 4/4-4/7

Seattle heads on their first roadtrip of the year to visit old friends George Sherrill and Adam Jones in Baltimore for a four game set.

Projected Starters:

4/4 - Jarrod Washburn vs. Adam Loewen
4/5 - Miguel Batista vs. Jeremy Guthrie
4/6 - Erik Bedard vs. Brian Burress
4/7 - Felix Hernandez vs. Daniel Cabrera

Note: There has been some talk that Seattle would skip Batista's start and keep him in the bullpen for the series, pushing Bedard's start up to Saturday. Multiple people have seemingly heard this, but I've yet to read a report to confirm it. Batista said post-game on Wednesday that he'd still be starting, so I have no reason to believe otherwise.

Keys to the Series:

Pick your battles: The Baltimore Orioles are one of the worst teams in the league, but they do have some very good hitters in their lineup. Seattle starters, especially Washburn and Batista, would be wise to pick their battles while going through the lineup by pitching around certain hitters. Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, two top-tier players at their respective positions, are the hitters to avoid. I'm not saying that the Seattle pitchers should intentionally walk these guys, but there is no need to throw a 3-1 fastball down the middle. Once you pass these hitters their other "impact bats" appear easily beatable. Melvin Mora, Kevin Millar, Aubrey Huff and Roberto Hernandez round out the rest of the top and heart of the lineup. All of these guys may have been once considered among the best earlier in their careers, but they pose little threat at this point of their careers compared to other team's power hitters.

Be patient: Seattle had been stressing patience at the plate during Spring Training, and so far it has been paying off. During the opening series Seattle hitters appeared to be taking more pitches, working the counts better and drawing more walks than they did last season. Seattle's willingness to wait back and take pitches could prove to be big in this series against Baltimore's young starters, Daniel Cabrera in particular. Despite being loaded with upside, Cabrera is coming off of back-to-back 100 walk seasons.

Score early: Obviously this could be a key to every series, but Seattle struggled with getting runs on the board in the first two ballgames against Texas. While Baltimore's pitching staff is downright awful, it is always important to score early to set the tone and give your starter some confidence. The bigger the lead, the deeper into the ballgame the starter might be able to go, which would save Seattle's paper-thin bullpen.

Relax a little: Now that the pressure of Opening Day and the home town fans has lifted, I think we could see a big series from both Richie Sexson and Brad Wilkerson. Both of these guys wanted so badly to impress the Seattle faithful, and probably put too much pressure on themselves to succeed, Sexson probably more than Wilkerson.

It's pretty cut and dry; Seattle is the better team. Bedard and Hernandez should be able to cruise through this lineup if they show even a glimpse of their good stuff. I was really looking forward to watching Bedard strikeout former Mariner outfield prospect Adam Jones, but unfortunately I'll be out of town this weekend and unable to watch the games. Enjoy the series!


ellis carver said...

It's raining pretty hard back east. It hasn't been called yet, but tonight's O's game with the Rays might just get called and they, currently, are calling for rain from now straight through Saturday.

we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see you stumble back in here, ellis. yeah the first three games of the series have a definate chance of being rained out, and surely Seattle doesn't want another situation like Cleveland last year. Those "snow-outs" threw off the entire season.

drivindave said...

Hey , we will miss your commentary Jon hope its worth it abandoning us!! hehe looking forward to see if Morse can produce at least half as well as in ST. personally I think Vlad and Morse should be starters but who am I but a humble drivindave.....