The Rays come home for a seven-game homestand this week against the rest of the American League West after going 5-1 against the better half, at least on paper, last week. The Rays will have played 13 games against AL West opponents before playing their first game against the Baltimore Orioles this season.
The good news is that 18 of the next 29 games on the schedule are played at home while the bad news is that it kicks off tonight against Felix Hernandez.
pretty graphs courtest of statcorner.com; format via LookoutLanding (see their thoughts on the series)
|Felix Hernandez||Jeremy Hellickson|
The team got in late from Texas last night, lost an hour, and gets rewarded by facing a guy that has dominated them throughout his career. This is a new Rays lineup, but only Evan Longoria has had any small sample size success against Hernandez. B.J. Upton is 2 for 25 lifetime, Luke Scott 5 for 24, Ben Zobrist 3 of 19, and Carlos Pena is 0 for 11. No current Rays hitter has tripled or homered against him while only three have even as much as doubled in 143 career plate appearances. The wOBACON here would be a bunch of undercooked pork, enough to make you sick so it will not be displayed. If the Rays do manage to get on base tonight, they may have their track shoes on if old friend John Jaso is behind the plate but Eric Wedge has been hitting Miguel Olivo cleanup lately, a move that one writer actually defends!
Seattle's lineup is rather left-handed this season but Hellickson's splits have been rather neutral in 2012 compared to 2011. He is 6-1 in his last 10 home starts.
|Hector Noesi||Matt Moore|
The aformentioned lefty-laden lineup plays well into Moore's hands. Michael Saunders has had small sample size success against lefties as has Jesus Montero and Alex Liddi, when he is not striking out. The rest of the lineup has really struggled so far against left-handed pitching.
Noesi has been an extreme flyball pitcher so far this season with the worst FIP (5.77) of any starting pitcher on the staff. He has allowed 22 hits in 17 innings of work and has given up four home runs. This may be the most desirable matchup for the Rays in quite some time.
|Blake Beavan||James Shields|
Shields was awesome nearly all of 2011....except when he faced Seattle. His first outing was on June 2nd at Seattle, and he was crushed in four innings of work in which he gave up seven hits, eight runs, walked three, and allowed four home runs. He faced the Mariners against on August 21st and was hit just as hard allowing 12 hits, seven earned runs, two runs, and struck out seven in 7.1 innings of work including a missile to Wily Mo Pena that left a dent in the stair rail on the Captain Morgan deck.
Beaven is very similar to Jerome Williams form last week in that he allows hitters to put a lot of balls in play and lets his defense to all of the hard work. Williams was able to stymie the Rays until they were able to rally late off the bullpen of the Angels.
|Kevin Millwood||Jeff Niemann|
It may seem funny to think about Millwood still having a major league job, but he does and he is not doing s badly as one would expect. He has been a groundball machine so far in 2012 compared to his historical rates but some early BABIP issues and an inability to strand runners has hurt him in the stat column. He is essentially holding a rotation spot for Danny Hultzen or maybe Hisashi Iwakuma, but he is not imploding as he did in Baltimore in 2010. If Jaso were to catch this game, a combination of his throwing issues and Millwood's slowness to the plate would be an ideal situation for the Rays running game.
Niemann is coming off arguably his best start of the season and also his highest pitch count of the season. After watching how poorly the Mariners have struggled against the curveballs featured by Josh Tomlin and Phil Humber already this season, this is a very favorable matchup for Big Nyquil if he has his spike curve working well.