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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Orioles series preview

Another matchup with the Birds of Baltimore.

Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The two-game series the Cubs were supposed to play against the Orioles last month in Baltimore was abbreviated to one game (a 9-3 loss) by rain. That rainout will be made up August 18.

Now the Orioles come into Wrigley as the hottest team in baseball, riding an eight-game winning streak.

For more on the O’s, here’s Mark Brown, managing editor of our SB Nation Orioles site Camden Chat.

All across Birdland, people are now asking themselves one big question: Is this where things are starting to get better? The Orioles are fresh off a month of June where they pulled off a winning calendar month for the first time in nearly five years. After July began with two walkoff losses, the team responded not by sinking into a 14- or 19-game losing streak — both of which they had in 2021 — but by firing off eight straight wins, including a perfect 7-0 homestand that featured three walkoff wins by the Orioles. Quite improbably given the preseason media narrative surrounding this team, they’ve made it within a game of .500 and only two games out of a wild-card spot as we head towards the All-Star break. Now fans are wondering whether what seemed like another inevitable trade deadline sell-off could end up with a different strategy.

The starting pitchers for the O’s in this little two-game series offer an example of this unlikely ascent from the basement of the league. Wednesday’s starter Jordan Lyles had the worst ERA of any qualified pitcher in MLB last year, and allowed more home runs than any other player. Tonight’s starting pitcher, Spenser Watkins, posted an ERA over 8 in 16 games last season and sat at a 6.00 ERA after eight games this season. That got him sent to the minors for a month. Since returning, he’s allowed just two earned runs in 17⅔ innings. This state of affairs feels like it could not possibly continue so well. I will try to enjoy it for as long as it does, telling myself that when one of these starting pitchers does falter, pitching prospect D.L. Hall is in Triple-A waiting to take his place. Hall has struck out 81 batters in 48⅓ innings at that level this season. Whoa.

The last time an Orioles team showed up better than expected after some poor seasons, the 2012 wild card-winning team, had a similar vibe as these Orioles do right now. It was a collection of mostly misfit toys, with few if any true standout players, just a bunch of guys doing enough night after night to win a bunch of games. This 2022 team isn’t quite on that level yet, but it’s interesting that they’ve done enough to have us asking the question. The preseason No. 1 prospect in all of MLB, Adley Rutschman, is coming on strong. That’s a big name, and Trey Mancini is recognizable because of his 2020 bout with Stage 3 colon cancer, but there just aren’t other big names around here. Orioles fans know Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander and Austin Hays. Other fans have less reason to know these guys yet. If this hot streak continues, maybe that will change.

Fun fact

The last time the O’s visited Wrigley Field, in 2014, the Cubs swept them in a three-game series. (And that was a bad Cubs team and a Baltimore team that won 96 games and a division title.) The Cubs winning pitchers were Jake Arrieta, Justin Grimm and Tsuyoshi Wada. Wada no-hit the Orioles for six innings August 24, 2014 before Steve Pearce led off the seventh with a home run. The Cubs won 2-1.

Pitching matchups

Tuesday: Adrian Sampson, RHP (0-0, 2.91 ERA, 1.015 WHIP, 2.96 FIP) vs. Jordan Lyles, RHP (5-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.398 WHIP, 4.14 FIP)

Wednesday: TBD vs. Spenser Watkins, RHP (2-1, 4.15 ERA, 1.385 WHIP, 4.70 FIP)

“TBD” for Wednesday could be Justin Steele, who at this time is still awaiting the birth of his first child.

Times & TV channels

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Wednesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network


These pitching matchups are pretty reasonable. The Cubs have won six of their last nine home games and the O’s have not been good on the road (18-27). I think they can stop Baltimore’s winning streak and at least split this series.

Up next

The Cubs host the New York Mets in a four-game series at Wrigley Field beginning Thursday evening.


How many games will the Cubs win against the Orioles?

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  • 22%
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  • 48%
    (78 votes)
  • 28%
    (46 votes)
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