October Confidential: Baltimore Orioles

Rivals explain how Royals can beat AL East champions

October Confidential: Baltimore Orioles

How do you beat the Orioles? MLB.com asked rival players from around Major League Baseball to offer an inside look at how best to face the AL East champions.

Chris Tillman
"He spots up well. He uses his four-seam fastball at the top of the zone well. He throws that big hook and the changeup, keeps them down well. It's really basic stuff, but he stays away from lefties for the most part and tries to hit those corners. He just works off the corners. Once he can get those calls, get ahead, he does a good job of placing the ball. He's got good stuff, but he doesn't rely on his stuff. He relies on his placement more than that. That's what makes him so successful."
-- AL East infielder

Wei-Yin Chen
"He uses his fastball a lot. He uses it in the top of the zone very well because it's got good carry to it. You really have to get on top of his fastball. His changeup works well off of that pitch, and he will throw his curveball, a get-me-over curveball later in the count early in the game. He'll throw a back-foot slider at times. But he's generally going to work his fastball in to righties. He might get ahead away, but then he comes in late, tries to jam you late. When he's placing the ball is when he's very, very good. But he definitely has one of those fastballs that looks like it's going to be right there, but then you just get underneath it. It gets on you just a little bit. He relies on that quite a bit."
-- AL East infielder

"Good life on the fastball. Sneaky fastball. A good slider, especially when he throws it for strikes. It keeps hitters off-balance for a good portion of the at-bat. He can be really good, at times."
-- AL East outfielder

Zach Britton
"He's just 98 mph two-seamers at you. He's been doing a good job throwing strikes with that pitch and then coming in with it, using the inner half of the plate to righties. It's really hard to keep that ball fair and keep it off the ground just because of how much it's sinking. A pitch that looks like it's going to be down the middle is going to move away. It just makes it hard. It's hard enough to hit 98 mph, but when it's really, really moving hard like his does and it's got late movement, that just makes it that much more difficult. He doesn't throw his off-speed that much. He will a little bit in a situation that's not really key, but in a key situation he'll rely on spotting up that two-seam fastball. It's really hard for righties to stay on it, stay underneath it."
-- AL East infielder

  Date   Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 10   KC 8, BAL 6 (10 inn.) video
Gm 2 Oct. 11   KC 6, BAL 4 video
Gm 3 Oct. 14   KC 2, BAL 1 video
Gm 4 Oct. 15   KC 2, BAL 1 video

Kevin Gausman
"Mostly fastball, fastball-changeup-slider. He's got a lot of velocity, and when he's spotting that, he's tough to hit off of. You really don't know what to get ready for, because you've got to get ready for 98, but at the same time he's got a really good, deceptive changeup. ... You've got to be ready for the fastball and just adjust, really. You can't sit off-speed because the guy throws 98. You can't think off-speed then catch up to that. You've got to stay on his fastball then just try to see his off-speed the best you can. You've got to really try to get his pitch count up, because he'll get himself into a good share of 3-2 counts. That's what you've got to try to do with him, then hit that good fastball. If you're looking for it, it's still 96-98. If you have a good idea that it's coming, you've got to hit the pitches that he makes mistakes on. If you don't, he's a really tough, tough pitcher to face. You've got to take advantage of the mistakes. Once you get to two strikes, I hope you have a good two-strike approach because he can put it by just about anyone."
-- AL East outfielder

Orioles offense
"They're all typically the same. You would approach them all the same, as a team. They're very aggressive, so you have to change speeds, you have to pitch them in, you have to pitch them off the plate, you have to be able to open up other parts of the plate rather than just give them what you think you can get by them."
-- AL East pitcher

"They're very aggressive. They make adjustments well. They all put together good at-bats. They have a plan for whatever pitcher they're going up against that day and they execute it very well."
-- AL East pitcher 2

Adam Jones
"He's aggressive. He swings at the first pitch a lot of the time, and that's the pitch a lot of people don't like to 'waste' in an at-bat. He's kind of a free swinger. He'll expand. But at the same time, he'll hammer mistakes. Getting him out, you just have to mix speeds and be able to locate a good fastball. If you locate on anybody, it's going to be a good result. But you have to be able to change speeds, throw other pitches for strikes, get to two strikes, let him expand the zone and chase."
-- AL East pitcher 1

"Try to make him chase pitches. He's an aggressive hitter. You have to show a couple in the zone. He can be a little bit more patient, but once you've established a couple pitches in the zone, you can get him to chase. ... He has success when you're in the zone. He can handle pretty much any pitch in the zone. You really have to make the perfect pitcher's pitch to get him. It's almost like he has to get himself out, a lot of the times. You have to get him to chase in, off the plate. When you throw a fastball, you have to go in off the plate with him to try to get in on his hands. That's kind of when you establish your fastball, then you go to the offspeed out of the zone. You can front-door curve him to get ahead early in the count."
-- AL East pitcher 2

October Confidential
Team-by-team coverage
ALCS: Orioles | Royals
NLCS: Cardinals | Giants

Nelson Cruz
"Predominantly try to mix speeds, more offspeed than fastballs. He's on the plate, open stance, so he wants the ball in and wants to pull the ball. Staying away and mixing speeds is really how I've seen people attack him. You have to elevate just to change the eye level, drop something short. He's the most dangerous guy in their lineup, and you have to be careful with him."
-- AL East pitcher

"You can throw a lot of curveballs in the zone, down, and he'll ground out on them. A changeup can work. Fastballs in and down and away, you can have some success with him."
-- AL East pitcher 2

Nick Markakis
"He's not your typical leadoff hitter. He's a guy that will swing at the first pitch of the game a lot of the time. He covers the plate. With two strikes, he'll shorten up. He'll expand and fight off pitches off the plate. He's good at spoiling good pitches, so you have to get in on him. But he's pretty quick in there, so you have to show that you can get him to open up the outside part of the plate. Something short's better than something elevated with him -- something in the dirt rather than something high."
-- AL East pitcher 1

"Nick Markakis is tough. I just realized this lately that you can get him out hard and in. Soft and away, he handles very well. It's not totally unusual, but there's some guys that with soft and away, they just serve it back up the middle. He has great plate discipline."
-- AL East pitcher 2

Steve Pearce
"He's a tough guy. It's just one of those times where he's locked in. He's been locked in for the season. Right on top of the plate, closed stance but he pulls the ball very well. It's kind of a weird swing. I think you have to get in on him so he can't get extended. His power's out over the plate. Elevate on him."
-- AL East pitcher 1

J.J. Hardy
"He's become a really good hitter the last half of this season. He's really stepped up from where he was earlier in the year. You used to be able to execute good fastballs down and away or in and get him to ground out and get him to chase the off-speed down and in. But he's really gotten good at protecting both halves of the plate, pulling the ball and going the other way with pitches. He's become a tough out. I still think you have to make him chase a little bit out of the zone, but he's got better plate discipline."
-- AL East pitcher 2