A few Orioles thoughts heading into the Boston series

A few Orioles thoughts and takes after Sunday’s rainout at home with Tampa Bay. The Orioles are 12-22 and the homestand continues tonight with Boston in town for three games.

Wilkerson-Swing-White-sidebar.jpgLet’s see more of Stevie Wilkerson in center field: He’s made just four starts out there in pro ball, two this year in Triple-A with Norfolk and Friday and Saturday for the Orioles. He held his own out there and made a nice catch in deep center on Friday night and a nice throw home as well. Not nearly enough of a sample to know much, except I’d like to see him get a bigger shot out there.

The Orioles’ future full-time center fielder could still be Cedric Mullins or maybe Austin Hays will move into that spot at some point. But Wilkerson does have six hits his last 14 at-bats and he’s hit safely in eight of his last nine games. O’s center fielders rank 14th in the American League with a .165 average and OPS of .520.

Is Dylan Bundy turning the corner?: He may be. After pitching to an ERA of 8.76 his first three starts, Bundy has pitched to an ERA of 3.47 his past four games. He’s recorded quality starts in two of his past three games with an ERA of 2.95. He was in control throughout in 7 1/3 scoreless innings on Saturday night against Tampa Bay.

Bundy has thrown his four-seam fastball less than 50 percent of the time in four of his last five starts. His changeup usage is up and his solid slider is always there. His curveball has become a factor again. The four-pitch mix has been solid and effective.

And repeating an oft-held opinion by me, Bundy’s success or failure does not depend solely on his fastball velocity. He averaged 91.3 mph on Saturday night against the Rays. Bundy throws 90 to 92 mph and has enough fastball to be good. It’s the same velocity he threw as a starter essentially in 2017 and 2018. If the command of a good mix is there for him, he can pitch well and he can win. Now he just needs to do it more.

Is this a bad time to play Boston?: Yep. The Red Sox are in the process of getting their act together. When the Orioles split a four-game series in mid-April at Fenway Park, Boston began that series with a 4-9 record and a rotation ERA of 8.79 to rank last in the league.

Now Boston is 17-18 and just won the last three games of a four-game series in Chicago, outscoring the White Sox 30-5. The Red Sox have won six of seven games and eight of 11. They are 11-5 in the last 16. They’ve won 10 straight games when scoring five runs or more. They’ve been scoring a lot lately with 98 runs the last 16 games, for 6.1 per game.

Boston’s rotation has turned around for the better. Since April 12, they lead the AL in rotation ERA at 3.08. Their starters have an ERA of 1.85 the last six games and have allowed three earned runs or less in 20 of the last 22 games.

So there is quite a challenge facing the Orioles the next three nights at Camden Yards.

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