Game 39 Lineups and Outlook
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. As does the gruelingly similar journey the Rays are about to embark upon with twenty games over the next twenty days. It starts tonight with Anibal Sanchez and his Detroit Tigers up there in spacious Comerica Park. The thing about Anibal is that he used to be really good and you knew he would get hurt at some point. Last year saw him providing the latter, but little of the former, and this year seems to be a continuation. He’s walking the world, but in my recent look at exit velocities he has actually fared pretty well at limiting hard contact coming in around the 22nd percentile in expected runs on balls in play.
While the model does attempt to more heavily weight recent performance it’s not going to have much effect on a guy that was so good for so long. As such, I think the Rays wOBA expectations are suppressed a bit so don’t put much stock in today’s totals or Vegas comparison. If Anibal has a vintage performance then maybe this works, but I wouldn’t count on it. The Rays will need to be careful with the top of the order, but power lurks throughout.
Their pen is mostly rubbish other than lefty Justin Wilson, though if you happen to meet Francisco Rodriguez then it probably means you’re your way to a loss. Scoring early and often was my mantra for the Blue Jays series and it should hold firm here. Get into this pen and abuse the weak links.