Game #99 Lineups and Outlook
First off, condolences to my colleague, and friend, Jason Collette. Sorry to hear the bad news and you should know that I’m here if you need anything, big guy. It’s easy to get down or depressed about this Rays season, but the death of a loved one provides so much clarity about how little the game of baseball actually matters. Win or lose, the bonds that are created between friends or family should always take precedence since baseball is the best game to be in the crowd. You’ve got time to converse or debate or dream with only the occasional oooh or ahhh to break up the dialogue. The first date that my now wife and I went on was a baseball game. Hold on to these memories, because they matter so much more than the outcome of the game.
So with a somber heart we trudge into Los Angeles tied for the 3rd worst record in the game. Something about this series, though, leads me to believe the Rays aren’t just going to lay down. If I’m them I want nothing more than to cram this series down the throat of Andrew Friedman, the first rat off the sinking ship. I’ve been a proponent of the Rays doing what they can to advance their future considerations, but I’d like to see them throw all that in the shitter this series to take this thing from the $300 million dollar Dodgers.
Bud Norris toes the bump for the Dodgers as the ace du jour while the Rays will counter with their own version in Chris Archer. I like the matchups for the Rays lefties today making this game a little more even than the gamblers might think. As such, I think there’s a small edge to betting the Rays today. As usual, the key for Chris Archer today will be developing a rhythm and feel for his fastball early so that he can go to his best-pitch-in-baseball slider for punchouts rather than having to lean on it to get him back into counts. Archer has steadily improved over the course of the season, but now would be a great time for him to ignite his second stage booster rockets.
The Dodgers are currently rostering a four man rotation so that they do not have to make the choice between an extra reliever or an extra bench bat. Ex-Rays Liberatore and Howell form the left-handed component to the pen, while Blanton get used against both while mostly soaking up outs in all sorts of leverage. Jansen is the stud. Things go well we won’t have to see him, but I’ll believe that when I see it. A thing to look out for with the Dodgers is that they’re currently rostering three catchers so I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more aggressive than the normal team when it comes to rotating those guys in and out. The Rays will have plenty of thunder on their bench today even with Logan Morrison unlikely to make a go of it. Keep it close and hope to get one of them matched up with a non-Jansen reliever and the Rays could make some fireworks late.