TORONTO – The Orioles are starting four rookies today in Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Terrin Vavra and Kyle Stowers as manager Brandon Hyde looked to add lefty bats to his lineup.
In facing Toronto right-hander José Berríos (10-5, 5.07 ERA), they are facing a righty that yields an opponent OPS of .735 to right-handed hitters and .872 against lefty batters.
“We are pretty young out there. Wanted to put in the left-handers versus Berríos today,” said Hyde in the visitor dugout. “We’re pretty left-handed today. That’s a nice change over the few years I’ve been here, we’ve been pretty right-handed. So got a few lefties in against a tough right-hander. And they’re all young. We’re young, but we’re growing and our guys have been impressive and fun to watch.”
Wanting to get Vavra on the field, Hyde is starting him in left today with Stowers as the designated hitter.
Vavra is batting .255 with a .647 OPS over 26 big league games. He got to a .462 batting average start in his first seven major league games. But now he is 3-for-24 in sporadic playing time since Aug. 12.
“He hasn’t had consistent playing time, so it’s tough to evaluate that,” said Hyde. “His last two at-bats off the bench were really good. He swung the bat well when he first got here. Missed some time and never really got going after that. Didn’t get regular playing time also. But I like his at-bats, the way he manages the strike zone and the line-drive approach. He uses the whole field and hope he takes some good at-bats today.”
The O’s offense has been held to five hits or less four times the last seven games and will try to get it going here this afternoon. After picking up 22 hits in two games at Nats Park, the O’s were held to five Friday in a Toronto bullpen game where the Blue Jays used seven pitchers.
“That’s just never easy," said Hyde. "Was like a spring training game yesterday and unfortunately for us we just didn’t take very good at-bats throughout the game. They have a good bullpen and we just never really got anything going honestly, except for a couple of homers. We need to create more traffic on the bases and start taking better at-bats. You have to be able to scores runs against these guys because they’re going to score. That’s a great offense. We have to manufacture and score more runs."
Today he turns to right-hander Kyle Bradish (3-6, 5.01 ERA) on the mound. He gave up just one run in seven innings Sunday against Boston and has an ERA of 2.84 in nine starts since returning from the injured list in July.
“Experience and confidence (have been big for him),” Hyde stated. “Had a couple of good starts when he first got to us. Then the league made some adjustments to him and that time off (on the injured list) kind of allowed him to reset a little bit. Understand now he has a two-seamer that goes the other way. Throwing more changeups now and always had two good breaking pitches and that cutting fastball. I think it’s just confidence being up here and getting more experience. And understanding that his stuff really plays up here.”
Hyde talked further today about the good experience his players are getting playing big games late in the year. He also noted the loud crowds here at Rogers Centre and how the O’s had great support on the road this week in Washington.
“End of the year, two teams in the playoff hunt," he said. "We came here the end of the year last year and this was sold out. They were trying to get in the playoffs and it was a good experience for our guys. Our guys are getting a taste of that now.
“Our crowd in D.C. was awesome. Ton of Baltimore fans. It was great. They were loud and above our dugout.”
Today the Orioles play Game 2 of a regular-season-ending stretch of 20 games in 20 days.
“I don’t think we are fatigued right now," he said. "I think we are in a good spot. I don’t know how we will look a week from now. But we’ve got 19 more to go. Just want our guys to finish strong."