It may only be April 17th, but the Tampa Bay Rays desperately need a win. Having lost four straight and matching their worst start to a season in franchise history, the team has got to find a way to get back in the win column.
Standing in their way will be Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles who have already beaten the Rays three times in the young season. Matt Moore will take the ball for the Rays, hoping to build off his first two strong outings and continue rolling. Moore has yet to allow a run this year and may need to post another shutout tonight to have a chance to win as the Rays offense has been struggling mightily on this road trip. They did show signs of life, Monday, hitting three home runs but continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, going 0-6.
Here is what Daniel had to say about Tillman in our series preview:
Tillman outperformed his FIP by nearly 130 points last season (2.93 ERA v 4.20 FIP), an anomaly to his 5.50+ ERA from the three years prior. In his two starts this season the trend has reversed: 7.00 ERA, 4.44 FIP; five runs in 3.2 innings, and two earned in 5.1 innigns. That's only nine innings over his first two starts, in which Tillman has also faced 45 batters. He's averaging a strikeout an inning, but is hurting with his control (6 walks thus far).
Like Arrieta, his struggles could be injury related as well. Tillman was placed on the 15-Day DL for recovery from an abdomen strain in late March, and injury from earlier in the month. Tillman was Day-to-Day at the end of last season with Ulnar Neuritis in his throwing elbow, which leads to numbness in the hand and arm.
Tillman sits on a 92 MPH four-seam around 60% of the time, though sites are divided on how often he's using a cutter, which clocks in around 86 MPH. He drops a whiff-worthy curve when he's ahead in the count (17%), and reaches for a change up or slider to round out his arsenal. Hopefully the Rays will be able to jump on Tillman's slow fastball early. By the eyeball test, I feel like the Rays have been swinging late this season, and Tillman's a good opportunity to reverse that trend. - Russell
According to Marc Topkin, DH Luke Scott had his "best day yet" in his recovery from a lingering hamstring injury and may be close to a rehab assignement. Scott added that watching the struggling offense has been frustrating and is driving him to drink. Struggling shortstop, Yunel Escobar has been dropped to ninth in tonight's lineup.
Rays: Jennings cf, Johnson 2b, Zobrist rf, Longoria 3b, Joyce LF, Duncan DH, Loney 1b, Molina c, Escobar SS
Orioles: Markakis RF, Machado 3B, Jones CF, Wieters C, Davis 1B, Hardy SS, McLouth LF, Reimold DH, Casilla 2B