4/5/11 GDT: Rays vs. Angels, Niemann vs. Weaver

From SBN TB.

After a disappointing series against the Orioles, the Rays could really use an easy series to help them get back on track. Sadly, that's not about to happen. The Angels are coming to town for a two-game stand and will be throwing their two aces against the Rays - Jered Weaver and Dan Haren.

Weaver takes the hill tonight, and he was one of the best pitchers in the American League last season, posting a 3.01 ERA and 3.06 FIP while striking out over a batter per inning. He had a solid first outing this season against the Kansas City Royals, allowing no runs over 6.1 innings while striking out six.

Facing him tonight will be Jeff Niemann. This will be Niemann's first outing of the season, and he hopes to do better against the Angels than he did at the tale end of last season. After returning from an injury late in the year, Niemann allowed 15 runs in only 7.2 innings in two starts against the Angels. Niemann had issues against every team after coming back from that injury, though, so he should be back to his normal dependable, inning-eater self. He's possibly the world's tallest junkball pitcher, as he doesn't have overpowering velocity and instead thrives by mixing his six different pitches.

Tonight's game is scheduled for 6:40 PM.

Players To Watch

  • Ben Zobrist may be slotted into the three hole on a regular basis now that Longoria is injured. He swung a hot bat in the first few games and made the most solid contact of any player on the Rays. It's far too early to say if Zobrist's power has returned after his back injury last season, but these early signs are certainly encouraging.
  • Joe Maddon has hinted that he might do an Sean Rodriguez / Felipe Lopez platoon at third base until Longoria returns. Tonight, Sean Rodriguez is getting the start against the righty Weaver.
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