Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays
When and Where: Wednesday, April 17, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla., 7:10 p.m. EDT.
There has been some uneven pitching when it comes to David Hess, and the second-year right-hander looks to make improvements Wednesday night when the Baltimore Orioles continue a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Hess struggling to keep ball in pack, O’s try to back him with runs
Hess (1-2, 3.32 ERA) has been all over the place in his three starts, but there have been some mitigating factors. The right-hander has not gotten any run support in losing his last two starts, but also has given up four homers in those losses. In the one start the Orioles did score for him, Hess was lights out with 6 1-3 hitless innings.
Additionally, the Orioles are emphasizing pitching fastballs higher in the strike zone, which is why Hess has gotten wildly varying results in the early going.
David Hess is the early poster child for the Orioles joining baseball's trend of high four-seamers. When it's good, it's good. When it's not, it's gone. He's learning how to live in the good. https://t.co/GgZORv066L
— Jon Meoli (@JonMeoli) April 12, 2019
Hess had one bad inning Friday at Boston where he gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings, but it was enough to be saddled with the loss in a 6-4 Orioles defeat. He gave up a solo homer in the fourth and two runs in the fifth, but overall, opponents are still hitting only .179 against him.
“I think it’s proven to be effective so far,” Hess explained to the Baltimore Sun. “Now, it’s the same thing — still learning how to utilize that, because I think that it is something that’s new. I’ve always been taught, fastball down, fastball down, fastball down. Now, to be able to command that fastball up — and want to — I think that’s a new facet that I think we’re kind of working on.
“I think that that’s something that I know I’m not the only one focusing on that. League-wide, a lot of people, there’s a big shift in that. It is something that we’re looking to continue to work on and improve on, but not just be limited to that. I don’t want to be a guy who strictly sits fastball up in the zone, because the room for error up there is a bit less forgiving.”
The righty showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie against the Rays last year, going 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in four starts. His best start came at Tropicana Field on May 25 when he scattered four hits and three walks in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-0 victory.
Hess, though, is 2-8 with a 4.62 ERA in 14 career road starts.
Stanek gets call to open once more
This is the spot in Tampa Bay’s rotation where it has used an opener, and Ryne Stanek (0-0, 2.16 ERA) has been the opener in the previous three turns.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 17, 2019
Stanek made his last appearance Monday night at Toronto, where he gave up a solo homer and one other hit while retiring one batter in that 8-4 victory. It was just the second run the right-hander has given up on the season.
In his three appearances as opener, Stanek has pitched five scoreless innings, striking out eight and allowing just one hit. He has held opponents to a .167 batting average overall but has been especially tough on lefties, holding them to 2 for 17.
Stanek is 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in nine career appearances against Baltimore, including four in the opener. All four of those opener appearances came last year, having mixed results in which he allowed four home runs in two of them and pitched two scoreless innings in the other two. Trey Mancini has one of those homers and is 2 for 6 lifetime versus Stanek.
The Orioles are:
- 2-8 in Hess’ last 10 starts vs. AL East teams.
- 1-11 in Hess’ last 12 road starts.
- 0-9 in Hess’ last nine starts vs. above-.500 teams.
The Rays are:
- 8-0 in their last eight games vs. starters with a sub-1.15 WHIP.
- 13-4 in their last 17 during game 2 of a series.
- 4-1 in their last five Wednesday games.