Game 1: Orioles at Rays

It’s not at home, and it’s not on Opening Day, but baseball season finally begins for the Baltimore Orioles. The Birds start things off in Florida, against the Tampa Bay Rays. New Oriole – and veteran leader / innings eater – Kevin Millwood gets the nod, with James Shields taking the mound for the opposition.

Millwood will be working against (2009 stats):

Bat Pos Batting
Bartlett, Jason R SS .320/.389/.490
Crawford, Carl L LF .305/.364/.452
Zobrist, Ben S RF .297/.405/.543
Longoria, Evan R 3B .281/.364/.526
Pena, Carlos L 1B .227/.356/.537
Upton, BJ R CF .241/.313/.373
Burrell, Pat R DH .221/.315/.367
Rodriguez, Sean R 2B .294/.397/.608 (AAA)
Navarro, Dioner S C .218/.261/.322

Shields:

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 GB rate FIP^ xFIP^ WAR^
6.8 2.1 1.2 42.3 4.02 3.92 4.1

Taking a look at his stuff^ from last year:

You can see that he has a diverse arsenal. The location of the circles denotes the average movement of the pitches (from FanGraphs), and the size of the circle indicates how often Shields threw it (larger = more). The whiff rate is how often a pitch was swung on and missed (out of all swings), with the two-seamers being rolled in with the fastballs. The change-up is, of course, Shields’ best pitch. It has quite a bit of tailing action and sink, and he was able to get an above average rate of whiffs on it as well as post a good run value (+1.63 runs per 100 thrown according to FanGraphs). The curve also has good movement, got some whiffs (about average for a hook from a righty) and had a positive run value (+0.56 per 100). The fastball comes in in the high 80s to low 90s – and has decent movement – but isn’t a great pitch. He attacks the strike-zone though, with an above average 52% of his pitches being in the zone. And he gives the batter quite a bit to think about.

The O’s line-up that’ll need to deal with him (2009 stats):

Bat Pos Batting
Roberts, Brian S 2B .283/.356/.451
Jones, Adam R CF .277/.335/.457
Markakis, Nick L RF .293/.347/.453
Tejada, Miguel R SS .313/.340/.455
Scott, Luke L DH .258/.340/.488
Wieters, Matt S C .288/.340/.412
Pie, Felix L LF .266/.326/.437
Atkins, Garrett R 1B .226/.308/.342
Izturis, Cesar S SS .256/.294/.328

Reimold gets the night off, with Pie – the lefty – starting in the outfield against the right-handed pitcher (and, maybe more importantly, on the turf). Better solution? DH Reimold, and let Scott play first instead of Atkins. Also, bat Nick second and Tejada not in the clean-up spot.

Millwood:

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 GB rate FIP xFIP WAR
5.6 3.2 1.2 42.3% 4.80 4.78 2.4

So, my plan is to put something like the above up before each game – when I can – and then edit the post once the game is over with the Good/Bad/Final points I used during Spring Training. Any thoughts on that? Like, dislike, use the intro part as a game thread for people to discuss while it’s going on, etc?