American League Wild Card Preview

Tonight the Baltimore Orioles will take on the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card Game. These two teams named their starters for this game on Monday, with right-hander Chris Tillman going for the Orioles against Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays.

The winner of this game will advance to face the Texas Rangers Thursday in the ALDS.

The Season Series

The O’s and the Jays are familiar foes and similar teams. The two teams have faced off a number of times already this season, 19 times to be exact, with the Blue Jays winning ten of those meetings. The two teams also had an identical record of 89-73 during the regular season.

There are certainly differences between the two teams as well. Baltimore has hit the most home runs in baseball with 253. They also have a great bullpen, but their weakness is their starting rotation.

The Jays have a strong group of starters but their bullpen has been an issue for much of this season.

Starting Pitchers

Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman is 1-2 and has a 7.04 ERA in four starts against the Orioles this season.

As far as Tillman, the Orioles right hander finished the season with a 3.77 ERA and 4.23 FIP in 172 innings. An adjustment for Tillman has been an increase in his two seam fastball usage, which has grown by 16.7 percent within the past two years. This has led to a rise in ground ball rate and fewer home runs allowed. Tillman himself says that facing the Blue Jays seems pretty familiar.

 

For the Blue Jays, Stroman’s “fly ball stats” weren’t quite as good. Although he had a HR rate of .93 dingers per nine innings, he allowed a 20.4 percent fly ball rate. His 3.41 xFIP was over a full run lower than his 4.37 ERA. Over the past couple months, Stroman has been at his best with 68 2/3 innings with a 3.28 ERA and 3.26 FIP. His 16.2 K-BB% during that time would have been 10th among American League starters if he maintained it for a full season. Despite a not so consistent season, Stroman is confident on this upcoming game.

 

Where Can You Watch the Game

The battle of the birds will take place tonight at 8 p.m. in Toronto on TBS.

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