Red Sox series preview: Four game series, one and a half games back

The new Boston closer is a familiar face in the AL East. - Jared Wickerham

The Rays enter Boston with a chance to take the division lead.

LHP Matt Moore vs. RHP Brandon Workman, 7:10

The 24 year old Red Sox rookie's will make his second career start tonight after cruising through the minor leagues as a polished college pitcher with good command of the strike zone. Marc Hulet of FanGraphs ranked him as the tenth best prospect in the Red Sox system going into this season, and his performance, other than a small sample size risen walk rate in triple-A, has probably improved his prospect stock.

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via pitchfx.texasleaguers.com

Workman throws a low 90s four-seam fastball without very much movement, but his less frequently used (so far) sinker and high eighties cutter are more impressive on paper. His curve ball is probably his best pitch. In 20 major league attempts it has induced no whiffs, but it's still a pitch to watch out for. His changeup is his newest and likely least effective pitch, so look for Maddon to stack the lineup with lefties.

Whatever the result, I trust that the young starter's performance will be workmanlike.

RHP Roberto Hernandez vs. LHP Jon Lester, 7:10

Pitcher previews will appear daily.

LHP David Price vs. LHP Felix Doubront, 7:10

RHP Jeremy Hellickson vs. RHP John Lackey, 7:10

The Bullpen

Koji Uehara, the Japanese Joel Peralta (maybe this should be the other way round), the man who brought Chris Davis to the AL East, is now back in the AL East closing games for Boston since the injury to Andrew Bailey. Uehara has the third lowest SIERA of any qualified reliever.

Like Peralta, he gets it done with a soft fastball with great rise, and an offspeed pitch with great sink.

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via pitchfx.texasleaguers.com

Over a single inning, it's an unusual and deadly combination. Hitters miss his splitter a ridiculous 40% of the time that they swing at it, according to Brooks Baseball.

The Offense

Since the last time these teams have met, the Red Sox have caught and passed the Rays to rank as the best offense in baseball according to wRC+. Jose Iglesias and Mike Carp are both carrying a BABIP above .400, and while that's clearly unsustainable, it's unexpected contributions from surprising players that really boost an offense. The Red Sox lineup is deep, with ten players hitting league average or above. Against righties, David Ortiz boasts a whopping 200 wRC+, but the Rays lefties Moore and Price should have an easier job of things, with Dustin Pedroia and Jonny Gomes being the only really scary bats.

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