Game 23 Lineups and Outlook
Following last night’s loss, their second in a row, the Tampa Bay Rays will need a win tonight to avoid tying their longest losing streak of the year. The Rays could just not get anything going yesterday against Aaron Sanchez, which wasn’t a total surprise considering how very tough he is on right-handers. Our lefties did some damage, but it wasn’t enough. One of the drawbacks of the R-L-R lineup is that it doesn’t allow for a good chance at clustering hits into runs. For every good plate appearance out of a lefty it only leads to an overmatched right-handed bat flailing wildly trying to do too much. Additionally, last night was a great example of how the aggressiveness of the Rays needs to pick and choose its battles. Yes, Sanchez has a very good curve that you don’t want to end up waving at from behind in the count, but he struggles to throw it for strikes. If you’re unable to hit his equally very good fastball then it’s going to make for a ton of swing and miss.
Tonight we’ll see another very good fastball/breaking ball combo, but this time we’ll be the ones holding the trump card as staff ace Chris Archer will be facing the lefty Toronto J.A. Happ:
You can see that I have the Rays as a slight favorite and actually slightly higher on them than the Vegas folks that make their bones knowing this stuff. It’s not a wide margin by any stretch, but there is a little bit of something there. The Rays are going virtually all righty against the lefty that is about one percent worse than average against opposite handers, but around five percent better than average against same handers. Archer presents a very nice matchup for us as the best hitters for the Blue Jays are right-handers, but Archie will still need to go out there and execute in order to build on his last very good start. I don’t see the bottom of our order doing a whole lot, but there are some favorable matchups at the top and middle. Happ is a bit underrated by most folks as he has been very good since welcoming the tutelage of pitching coach/jedi master Ray Searage. Here’s hoping the Rays can right the ship and still look to take this series.