Blue Jays vs. Orioles: Tale of the Tape
Pitch usage: fastball, 56.8% (91.7 mph); cutter, 15.6% (85.7 mph); curveball, 12.4% (75.3 mph); changeup, 15.2% (83.7 mph)
2016 stats: 16-6, 30 starts, 172 innings, 7.33 K/9, 3.45 BB/9, 3.77 ERA
A one-time top prospect in the Seattle Mariners system, the trade that sent Tillman to Baltimore helped rebuild the Orioles into the contender they are today. In flipping Canadian hurler Erik Bedard to the Pacific Northwest, the O’s landed not only Tillman, but outfielder Adam Jones, as well, way back in February of 2008.
It took a while for Tillman to develop, but the 6-foot-5 right-handed has provided four straight seasons of serviceable innings for the Orioles, winning 16 games twice during that span.
While he’s not an ace and he doesn’t throw very hard or punch out a lot of people, Tillman is a solid starter who can be really good when he’s on.
Tillman hasn’t fared very well in the playoffs, however.
Even though he got a win in the 2014 ALDS over the Detroit Tigers, Tillman went just five innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out six. Both runs came on solo homers.
In the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals that same year, he was touched up for seven hits and five runs in just 4 1/3 innings.
It wouldn’t be a special outing, but the Orioles would likely take five innings and just two runs allowed on Tuesday at Rogers Centre.
Coming in, Tillman is rested, not having pitched since last Wednesday in a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays.
RHP Marcus Stroman
Pitch usage: fastball, 57.5% (92.4 mph); slider, 14.7% (86.6 mph); cutter, 12.4% (89.8 mph); curveball, 10.1% (81.3 mph); changeup, 5.3% (84.7 mph)
2016 stats: 9-10, 32 starts, 204 innings, 7.32 K/9, 2.38 BB/9, 4.37 ERA
For the first time in his young career, Stroman surpassed the 200-inning mark, finishing with 204 frames tossed after going seven innings against the Orioles last week in his final start of the regular season.
Similar to Tillman, Stroman also got a close look at his wild-card opponent last week, throwing seven innings in a 4-0 loss to the Orioles.
When Stroman’s stuff is working, he can be as tough as any pitcher in baseball, but he can be inconsistent and gave up 21 home runs this season.
While his overall season numbers don’t jump out, Stroman’s second half was a different story.
After struggling with a 7.71 ERA during the month of June, Stroman had a 3.71 ERA in July, a 3.13 ERA in August, and then a 3.41 mark in September.
Considering how well Francisco Liriano pitched down the stretch, many were urging Jays manager John Gibbons to go with the lefty on Tuesday against the O’s, but Stroman’s playoff run last year and desire to pitch in big games was the deciding factor in going with the fiery right-hander.
When looking at how these two teams are constructed, especially in a single-elimination scenario that takes the Blue Jays rotation edge out of the equation, it’s hard to uncover a distinct personnel advantage in just about every area.
This is not one of them.
The Orioles have a significant bullpen edge and it’s not even really close.
While it’s lessened with Liriano and Marco Estrada being available out of the Jays bullpen, it’s not something they’re used to doing, which could play a factor.
Roberto Osuna has struggled lately, no one is ever sure which Brett Cecil is trotting in, Joe Biagini is untested, and 39-year-old Jason Grilli has shown signs lately of wearing down.
Combine that with Joaquin Benoit being sidelined by a torn calf, and Gibbons’ bullpen is a major guessing game.
On the other side, Orioles closer Zach Britton is as unhittable as it gets — he gave up a foolish 38 hits in 67 innings — and he shaves games down to eight innings.
In front of him, Brad Brach (2.05 ERA in 79 innings) and converted shortstop Mychal Givens (96 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings) are one of the best setup combos in the league.
Orioles: Matt Wieters
.243/.302/.409, 17 HR, 66 RBI
Jays: Russell Martin
.231/.335/.398, 20 HR, 74 RBI
Two solid defensive catchers with some pop in their bats, Martin and Wieters have both enjoyed fine seasons behind the plate. Both will likely get opportunities with runners in scoring position hitting in the heart of the order.
EDGE: BLUE JAYS
Orioles: Chris Davis
.221/.332/.459, 38 HR, 84 RBI
Jays: Edwin Encarnacion
.263/.357/.529, 42 HR, 127 RBI
These guys are both very good at what they do: Hitting baseballs a long way and driving in runs. Davis’ average sank this season, while Encarnacion was superb.
EDGE: BLUE JAYS
Orioles: Jonathan Schoop
.267/.298/.454, 25 HR, 82 RBI
Blue Jays: Devon Travis
.300/.332/.454, 11 HR, 50 RBI
Schoop was minty-fresh in the power department, but the 24-year-old doesn’t provide much else at this point. Travis was terrific in the second half, hitting .321. Both are serviceable with the leather.
EDGE: BLUE JAYS
Orioles: Manny Machado
.294/.343/.533, 37 HR, 96 RBI
Jays: Josh Donaldson
.284/.404/.549, 37 HR, 99 RBI
Two of the best players in baseball, Donaldson has an MVP already under his belt, while Machado likely has at least one in his bright future. Donaldson’s OBP sets him apart in the batter’s box, but Machado is a wizard with the glove and maybe baseball’s best defender at the hot corner.
Orioles: J.J Hardy
.269/.309/.407, 9 HR, 48 RBI
Jays: Troy Tulowitzki
.254/.318/.443, 24 HR, 79 RBI
There’s no doubt what Hardy provides the Orioles: Excellent defence. But Tulowitzki is also one of the better defensive shortstops around, and provides a whole lot of pop, as well.
EDGE: BLUE JAYS
Orioles: Hyun Soo Kim
.302/.382/.420, 6 HR, 22 RBI
Jays: Ezequiel Carrera
.248/.323/.356, 6 HR, 23 RBI
Kim’s biggest contribution comes in his ability to get on base in front of the big boys, while Carrera, who has hit .304 over his past 17 games, does a bit of everything and provided a September spark.
Orioles: Adam Jones
.265/.310/.436, 29 HR, 83 RBI
Jays: Kevin Pillar
.266/.303/.376, 7 HR, 53 RBI
In his ninth season with the O’s, Jones had a typical year, providing power and driving in some runs, but if you believe defensive metrics, the 31-year-old wasn’t as good in that department in 2016. Pillar is all about the leather and saves runs just about every single day.
Orioles: Mark Trumbo
.256/.316/.533, 47 HR, 108 RBI
Jays: Michael Saunders
.253/.338/.478, 24 HR, 57 RBI
One of the shrewdest off-season moves made last winter, Trumbo went off for 47 home runs in a contract year and will cash in this off-season. Saunders enjoyed a fine first half, but has cratered in the second half with a .178 average. Neither plays much defence and both could DH.
Orioles: Pedro Alvarez
.249/.322/.504, 22 HR, 49 RBI
Jays: Jose Bautista
.234/.366/.452, 22 HR, 69 RBI
The Orioles could also elect to go with Michael Bourn’s speed, while Bautista has been rotating between right field and DH. Bautista has a flair for the dramatic in these types of games.