The Orioles picked up their usual Opening Day win yesterday, and are tied for first place in the AL East. Going wire-to-wire is probably going to require a second victory today, so they'll need to make that happen to keep the dream alive.
The Twins (2011 stats):
Pos Batting UZR fWAR Denard Span CF .264/.328/.359 9 2.2 Jamey Carroll SS .290/.359/.347 -5 2.2 Joe Mauer CF .287/.360/.368 1 1.6 Justin Morneau DH .227/.285/.333 4 -0.3 Josh Willingham LF .246/.332/.477 -5 2.1 Chris Parmelee 1B
.355/.443/.592 1 1.3 Danny Valencia 3B .246/.294/.383 -6 0.5 Ben Revere
Alexi Casilla 2B .260/.322/.368 0 1.4
Maybe Ryan Doumit's misplay on Nick Markakis' triple yesterday has something to do with Ben Revere being in right today.
K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP fWAR 7.5 5.0 48.6% 5.09 4.54
Liriano still has that killer slider and a great change, and though his fastball isn't overpowering, the sinker does let him keep the ball on the ground pretty well. The question is how good his control will be - if he's hitting his spots (and he did have a 33-5 strike-out to walk ratio in 27 Spring Training innings), then it could be a rough day for the O's.
The Orioles (2011 stats):
UZR fWAR Nolan Reimold LF .247/.328/.453 1 1.5 J.J. Hardy SS .269/.310/.491 11 4.8 Nick Markakis RF .284/.351/.406 -5 2.2 Adam Jones CF .280/.319/.466 -9 2.9 Matt Wieters C .262/.328/.450 12 5.0 Mark Reynolds 3B
.221/.323/.483 -28 0.3 Nick Johnson
Robert Andino 2B .263/.327/.344 2 1.8
As I expected, Chris Davis moves to the bench in favor of Nick Johnson against the lefty. Johnson actually has a career reverse platoon split, and even regressed (staying with his career .370 wOBA) it's .373 against righties and .361 against lefties (so, pretty minor). Chris Davis has pretty much normal platoon numbers (.320 vs. LHP, .332 vs. RHP) while Wilson Betemit has big ones (.299 vs. LHP, .350 vs. RHP), but when you regress it favors the latter (who is a switch-hitter): .301 vs. .328 for Davis and .321 vs. .343 for Betemit.
It might even be worth playing Endy Chavez, actually. With Hunter on the mound and the Twins' better hitters being left-handed, the O's left-fielder could see some work (so upgrading from Reimold to Chavez makes some sense). Plus, Chavez doesn't have the biggest regressed platoon splits either (.283 vs. .298) - he is just a poor hitter in general (and so should not be anywhere near the top of the line-up, regardless of his speed). I think it's actually close.
Ronny Paulino DH'ing is a little surprising, given that he's the back-up catcher. He does crush lefites though (relatively speaking): .373 wOBA career against them, versus just .279 against righties (regressed it's .333 vs. .298). That probably is the best option as far as the line-up is concerned. Not sure who the 3rd catcher is; Robert Andino or Ryan Flaherty maybe?
K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP fWAR 4.8 1.6 41.0% 4.68 4.48 4.28 0.8
If Hunter's increased velocity from last year carries forward, he might be able to get that strike-out rate up a little. Doesn't have good enough stuff to miss bats consistently though, so batters are less forgiving than against Liriano (who has to sometimes get things in the zone, vs. Hunter, who has to not only throw strikes but quality ones). The O's defense is going to have to be on top of it's game, because a Mark Reynolds misplay or Adam Jones not getting back on a ball could lead to a big inning.
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