Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays @ Cleveland Indians

ST PETERSBURG FL - JULY 11: Pitcher Justin Masterson #63 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 11 2010 in St. Petersburg Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

First two games are 7:05 PM starts; Sunday game is a 1:05 PM start. And let's try something a little bit different:

Friday, July 23: Jeff Niemann (4.36 FIP) vs...

Fausto Carmona

K/9

BB/9

GB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

2010

4.67

3.58

57.3%

3.65

4.13

4.64

Saturday, July 24: David Price (3.62 FIP) vs...

Mitch Talbot

K/9

BB/9

GB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

2010

4.61

3.65

50.8%

3.89

4.45

4.88

Sunday, July 25: Wade Davis (5.49 FIP) vs...

Justin Masterson

K/9

BB/9

GB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

2010

7.19

3.96

63.4%

5.25

3.99

3.98

From the looks of it, the Rays will be hard-pressed to hit any homeruns this series. Those are some impressive groundball rates.

The Indians are a less than impressive team this season and the Rays thoroughly beat them the last time they faced one another, winning three games of four right before the All-Star Break. However, the Indians now have their main offensive weapon - outfielder Shin-Soo Choo - back from the disabled list and are throwing three talented young pitchers in this series. It's not going to be a walk in the park.

Keys to the Series:

  • Stack the line-up with speedy players. You're going to hit lots of groundballs this series; there's just no way around it. Instead of trying to fight against the inevitable, the Rays should put pressure on the Indians' infield by being aggressive on the basepaths and making the Indians rush plays. Also, should Carlos Pena play everyday against pitchers that specialize in inducing groundballs? I'd say no.
  • Price needs more command. I'm hoping that Price's last start was an aberration and that we won't see his wild ways continue. This offense isn't as potent as the Yankees', but it's still one of the most patient in the league (9.2% walk rate, 8th in the majors).
  • Don't strikeout. Carmona and Talbot aren't strikeout pitchers, as you can see from their numbers, and we shouldn't help them out by striking out a ton. The Indians' defense is ranked the worst in the majors this year by UZR (and middle-of-the-road by DRS), so put the ball in play.
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