Orioles begin three-games series against Yankees with rested bullpen

The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles open their three-game series against the New York Yankees tonight in the Bronx.

They're 4-2 this season in games following days off, winning their past four after losing the first two.

After taking two of three at Yankee Stadium in April, the Orioles have won five of their last seven series against the Yankees in New York.

The Orioles are also 19-12 against the AL East. Seven of those wins come against last-place Tampa Bay, so they’re 12-11 against the rest of the division.

But they’ve won six of 10 three legs into their stretch of 13 straight games against AL East teams, splitting four games with first-place Toronto and earning series wins against Boston and at Tampa Bay.

Don’t expect a roster move before tonight’s game. The Orioles only have six relievers right now because they're currently holding six starters, but the off day allows the bullpen to remain fresh.

As anyone who follows the team knows, Orioles manager Buck Showalter is excellent at preserving the health of his bullpen. He’s aware of the matchups well before they come into play he tries to limit the number of times his relievers get up to warm up and rarely warms up two pitchers at the same time.

At the end of the day, the starters' ability to keep getting deep into games will dictate how long Showalter can go with just six relievers, but it will be interesting to see how he maneuvers his bullpen.

He’s indicated that his starters can pitch in if an extra arm is needed. He doesn’t have a true right-handed long man for when left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is slated to make his next start on Monday at home against the White Sox, so a right-hander starter – maybe Miguel Gonzalez or Kevin Gausman – could be made available if there’s a need for a long reliever.

But a Yankees team that’s won seven of its past nine, including its past three games against the division-leading Blue Jays, might have more to say about that this weekend. The lack of depth in the pen could become evident very quickly this weekend if one of the Orioles starters has an abbreviated outing in New York.

Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who starts in tonight’s series opener, hasn’t had much success against the Yankees.  Jimenez owns a 1-4 record and 6.67 ERA against the Yankees in five career starts and New York hits .298/.393/.442 against him.

He lasted just 4 2/3 innings against the Yankees on April 7 after throwing 109 pitches and allowing four runs on eight hits and walking five in a 4-2 loss to New York, the only game the Orioles lost in that three-game series.

Jimenez has posted just one quality start against the Yankees in his career, which was also his first start against them, when he held them to two runs on four hits over seven innings pitching for Colorado on June 24, 2011 in a 4-2 win.

The key with Jimenez, who has had two work days since his last start, will be keeping his walks down. The Yankees aren’t as methodically patient at the plate as they’ve traditionally been, but Jimenez has issued 17 walks over 27 innings against the Yankees in his five career starts against them. Because of that, he hasn’t gotten past the fifth inning in any of his last three starts against New York.

If you haven’t already, take a look at today’s story on Orioles rookie catcher Caleb Joseph. I’ll go out on a limb and say you’ll appreciate the resilience he's shown throughout his long journey through the minors after reading it.

Even though there were doubts around the organization whether he could be a major league catcher, Joseph always worked hard to refine his game behind the plate. But his biggest breakthrough began when he began trying to duplicate Matt Wieters’ footwork with throwing out baserunners.

When you take a close look at Wieters, he anticipates the baserunner so well, turning his body before the ball arrives at him so he can release the ball quickly and has a better chance of throwing guys out.

“You’re ready to throw before the before the ball gets there and instead of a ‘step, step , throw’ it’s more or less a ‘slide, catch, throw,’ Joseph described the move. “You shave off just a little bit of time and I don’t think I have a great arm. I think I have an average arm but this little move here? Oh man. I saw it right away. We’ve all watched Wieters. When he’s healthy, it’s over. If he gets a good pitch he’s out. And you talk about his cheat with an above average arm, that’s why he can throw out so many guys

“That changed my game,” Joseph said.”I  started to learn how to cheat when there were fast guys on who were probably going to go give myself time and put my body  more in a position to throw before the ball got there. You don’t do it every pitch and only guys you know are going to steal, but you have to put your body in a position, your feet more or less in a position to throw before you get the ball.”


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