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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Baltimore Orioles

For the first time in 19 years, the Brewers are in Baltimore.

Seattle Mariners v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

It’s been 19 years since the Brewers and Orioles have met in Baltimore. That’s a mark that’s not likely to happen again with expanded interleague play starting next season, but the Brewers will get to play in Baltimore as the Orioles host their home opener this week. Looking back, here were the pitchers of record the last time these two teams met in Baltimore:

  • June 13, 2003: Orioles 7, Brewers 2 (W: Sidney Ponson | L: Glendon Rush)
  • June 14, 2003: Brewers 8, Orioles 3 (W: Ruben Quevedo | L: Jason Johnson)
  • June 15, 2003: Orioles 5, Brewers 4 (W: Rodrigo Lopez | L: Ben Sheets)

The two teams have met three times in Milwaukee since then. The Brewers took all three series, and were a combined 7-2 in those series. Lifetime, these two teams have plenty of meetings, with the Orioles leading the all-time series 169-229.

The last time these two teams met was in July 2017. There has been a lot of turnover between the two teams since then. Here are the players that are still on each team from the last meeting:

  • Brewers: Brent Suter, Josh Hader
  • Orioles: Trey Mancini

Suter made one start against the Orioles, allowing just one run in six innings pitched. Hader was with the team but did not pitch against the Orioles. Mancini started in all three games, going 5-for-12 with a double. (Brandon Woodruff was with the Brewers in 2017, but did not debut until August of that season.)

The Orioles do have a couple of former Brewers on the team. Jordan Lyles is #2 in the Orioles rotation. Since he pitched on Saturday, it’s unlikely that the Brewers will see him in this series. Meanwhile, Jorge Lopez is in the Orioles bullpen. He could make an appearance in this series.

One thing to watch in this series will be the changes to Camden Yards. The Orioles home park has long been known as a hitters park, but the Orioles made some changes last offseason. They pushed the left field fence back 26 feet and raised the wall to 13 feet high. This also created a portion of the wall where it extends out where the bullpen is. This will be the first series with this new outfield configuration. While some of the Brewers outfielders do have experience playing in Baltimore, this will be a new one for everyone.

Orioles Lineup

The Orioles used a few different lineups in their first series, but here’s who we can expect to see in their lineup:

  • C: Robinson Chirinos
  • 1B: Ryan Mountcastle
  • 2B: Rougned Odor
  • 3B: Ramon Urias
  • SS: Jorge Mateo
  • LF: Anthony Santander
  • CF: Cedric Mullins
  • RF: Austin Hays
  • DH: Trey Mancini

The Orioles have been pretty consistent with their lineup, with seven of their players starting all three games so far. Mullins has been their leadoff hitter this season, coming off of an All-Star season where he batted .291/.360/.518 that included a 30 HR/30 SB season. Mountcastle is one of the power hitters in their lineup, batting .255/.309/.487 with 33 HR and 89 RBI last season, both leading the team. Mancini has batted third and fourth this season so far, and had a .255/.326/.432 line with 21 HR and 71 RBI in 2021. Santander is their other middle of the lineup threat, coming off of a .241/.286/.433 season with 18 HR and 50 RBI.

Overall, the Orioles lineup has seen their share of struggles. Last season, their offense was in the bottom half of the league in several stats: batting average (19th), OBP (26th), SLG (20th), strikeout rate (24th), walk rate (28th), and stolen bases (26th). They did show some power with 195 HR, but it remains to be seen how the new home dimensions will affect that. Overall, the Baltimore lineup was 29th in MLB with 8.9 fWAR. To be fair, the Brewers have had their share of struggles as well. The two teams had identical wRC+ of 91 last season. However, the Brewers defense and pitching has helped make up for some of the offensive struggles.

Pitching Matchups

Monday, 2:05 PM: Adrian Houser vs. Bruce Zimmermann

After a good spring training, Houser is set to make his first start of the season. Last season, he made 26 starts in 28 appearances for the Brewers, posting a 3.22 ERA and 4.33 FIP over 142.1 IP. Houser’s 6.45 K/9 and 4.06 BB/9 put him fifth in the Brewers rotation in 2021, but he’s also stayed out of trouble. His 0.73 HR/9 was second among the starting pitchers and he keeps the ball on the ground with a 57.7% groundball rate. This spring, Houser had 12 IP with 4 ER, and a K/BB ratio of 11:1.

Bruce Zimmermann is entering his third season with the Orioles in 2022, with just over a season of major league service time. In 2021, he made 13 starts, posting a 5.04 ERA and 5.38 FIP over 64.1 IP. He throws a fastball that averages 91.6 MPH and mixes in a changeup, slider, and curveball. He’s definitely prone to allowing home runs with a 1.96 HR/9, and also allows some walks with a 3.08 BB/9 walk rate. He’s strikeout rate is at 7.83 K/9. In the spring, he allowed 7 ER in 8 IP, with 9 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 2 home runs allowed.

Tuesday, 6:05 PM: Eric Lauer vs. TBD

Eric Lauer is scheduled to make his first start of the season on Tuesday. Lauer solidified his position in the Brewers rotation in 2021, making 20 starts over 118.2 IP. He posted a 3.04 ERA and 3.90 FIP, with a 8.52 K/9 and 2.95 BB/9. He did allow some home runs last season (1.2 HR/9), but overall had a solid season. This spring, he allowed 8 ER over 6.2 IP, though only made two starts in games.

As for the Orioles second starter, that’s uncertain at this point. Dean Kremer is listed on the Orioles website as their fifth starter. Kramer made 13 starts over 53.2 IP in 2021, posting a 7.55 ERA and 6.99 FIP. He had a 47:25 K/BB ratio, and allowed 17 home runs. This spring, Kremer allowed 8 ER in 9 IP with 11 strikeouts and 3 walks.

Mike Baumann is another option for the Orioles. He hasn’t pitched yet this season, but made 18 starts at Triple-A last season, posting a 3.44 ERA over 70.2 IP. He had a strong strikeout rate at 9.0 K/9, but was also prone to allowing walks with a 4.3 BB/9 rate. Baumann did appear with the major league team as well in 2021. He allowed 11 ER in 10 IP over 4 games, with 5 strikeouts and 6 walks. Baumann pitched in two games this spring, allowing 4 ER in 4.1 IP.

The Orioles also had Keegan Akin listed on the starting rotation depth chart, but Akin pitched three scoreless innings on Saturday against the Rays. He could factor in to this series, but it may be in more of a long relief role. Akin made 17 starts over 24 appearances and 95 IP for the Orioles in 2021, with a 6.63 ERA and 5.10 FIP.

Wednesday, 6:05 PM: Corbin Burnes vs. TBD

Corbin Burnes will try to rebound in his second start of the season on Wednesday. He definitely wasn’t himself on Thursday, pitching just five innings and allowing three runs. He also only had four strikeouts and allowed three walks. However, it was his first start of the season after a shortened spring training, so there’s not too much to take from that performance. The reigning Cy Young winner will look to get back to form in this start.

The third starter for the weekend is also up in the air. In addition to the above options, the Orioles could choose to use their first starter again. LHP John Means started Opening Day for the Orioles in Tampa Bay. Means pitched just four innings and threw 84 pitches. He allowed a run and six hits with five strikeouts in the start. This is his fifth season in the majors, and he’s had a 3.80 ERA and 4.61 FIP over his career. He’s had a 7.8 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and 1.7 HR/9 rate. In 2021, he led the Orioles with 146.2 IP and was second with 26 starts, posting a 3.62 ERA and 4.62 FIP.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.