Fresh off their first series sweep of the season and a rest day to boot, the Yankees have no excuse to not let the results keep rolling as the Orioles arrive for a three-game set. Surely the series loss and power outage at Camden Yards last week has to still sting — perhaps they can use that as added motivation in this upcoming slate of games against the Birds.
That being said, the Orioles have sneakily rebuilt their pitching staff into one of the more effective units in the game through the first few weeks of the season — Baltimore pitchers rank sixth in fWAR (2.3) and seventh in ERA (3.17) in MLB. That’s with only eight innings from ace John Means too, who is now out for the season with Tommy John surgery. A series win is no longer a given, even with the Yankees’ offense showing signs of heating up. New York will have to show up ready to win and not assume they will just be handed the series.
Tuesday: Luis Severino vs. Jordan Lyles, 7:05 PM EDT
Luis Severino makes his fourth appearance as he looks to build upon an encouraging start to the season. His last game against the Tigers was arguably more impressive than his two-hit dominance over the Blue Jays five days prior — even though he didn’t have his best stuff in Detroit, he grinded out five solid innings to give his team a chance to win. The cutter has been a valuable weapon for the righty since incorporating it at the start of the season, giving him a backup option should he lose the feel for his other secondary pitches over the course of an outing. In 13 innings, Severino owns a 2.08 ERA, 3.08 FIP, and a 14:4 strikeout to walk ratio.
Jordan Lyles will once again act as the series opener for the Orioles. They must have some magic powder over in Baltimore because they have somehow transformed the literal worst qualified starter in MLB in 2021 into an effective middle-of-the-rotation arm. He held the Yankees to one run on six hits in 5.1 innings on the Friday before last by limiting their hitters to weak batted ball after weak batted ball — a particularly curious outcome considering he sits in the bottom third of the league in basically every quality of contact metric. In three starts, the 31-year-old righty has a 3.52 ERA, 3.93 FIP, and 12:6 strikeout to walk ratio in 15.1 innings.
Wednesday: Jordan Montgomery vs. Tyler Wells, 7:05 PM EDT
Jordan Montgomery gets the ball for his fourth start as he looks to continue his impressive early run. In typical Yankees fashion, the offense just hasn’t held up their end of the bargain when Montgomery pitches — they’ve provided him the fifth-worst run support (1.2 runs/start) of any starting pitcher in baseball. Even though his strikeout totals are down in the early going, Montgomery has yet to surrender a home run this year. That goes a long way in the run prevention department, as the Yankee southpaw sports a 2.51 ERA, 2.81 FIP, and an 11:5 strikeout to walk ratio in 14.1 innings.
Montgomery draws the one Orioles starting pitcher who hasn’t started the season off on the right foot. That being said, he still saw fit to hold the Yankees scoreless through the four innings he pitched in the middle game of the two teams’ previous meeting. In all his other starts, he’s been plagued by the free pass and the long ball, so it’s up to the Yankees to put together better at-bats against a vulnerable pitcher. Across his first three starts, Wells has pitched to a 6.75 ERA, 6.71 FIP, and a 6:4 strikeout to walk ratio in eight innings.
Thursday: Jameson Taillon vs. Bruce Zimmermann, 1:05 PM EDT
Jameson Taillon gets the series finale and will look to improve upon his workmanlike start to the year. He has certainly shown some signs of improvement over last season, walking only 1.7 percent of batters faced and sports a groundball rate ten points higher than in 2021. That being said, he has also allowed a home run in each of his three starts. He enters his fourth start with a 3.07 ERA, 4.18 FIP, and 13:1 strikeout to walk ratio in 14.2 innings.
Taillon will face the Orioles’ Bruce Zimmermann. The crafty lefty from Baltimore maddeningly held the Yankees scoreless through five innings last time they met despite struggling to touch 90 with his fastball. It’s been a stunning start for the 27-year-old after grading out as one of the worst pitchers in baseball by Statcast’s batted ball metrics in 2021. We’ll see if it continues as Zimmermann makes his fourth start, owning a 1.20 ERA, 2.82 FIP, and a 16:5 strikeout to walk ratio in 15 innings.