10:05; FSN Florida
RAYS RADIO/WHNZ 1250 AM
|RH Jason Hammel
|RH John Lackey
RH Jason Hammel, DEVIL RAYS:
Overview-Jason Hammel tries to continue a late season push in his attempt to win a rotation spot next year, and will make the first start against the Angels franchise tonight out west. Hammel hasn't had much success this season in 11 starts and 10 relief outings so far, posting a 6.13 ERA in 69 innings of work. The flip side of that has been tremendous success so far this month; Hammel has a 2.12 ERA in the month of September over three starts. In trying to win the Rays' first game of the season in Anaheim, Hammel will need to keep the ball down and out of the Angel Stadium bleachers. The Angels more so than most other AL teams will put you away with the home run, and Hammel's tendency to put baserunners on heightens the risk for when the long balls occur.
Recent Starts-After a horrible 10.42 ERA over the month of August, Hammel has improved drastically over his last three starts-two of them against divisional opponents. His 2.12 ERA is backed up by corresponding success with his peripheral numbers. He has struck out 14 and walked just two over his last 17 innings of work, giving up just one runner per inning over the stretch. More importantly, he has given up just one home run as opponents have hit .231/.275/.338 over that stretch of play. He was especially strong last time out against the Mariners, when he gave up a lone run over six innings of work, walking none and striking out six in an eventual Rays loss.
vs ANA-Jason Hammel has never made an appearance against the Angels in his career, nor has he faced any current Anaheim player.
RH John Lackey, Anaheim:
Overview-Unfortunately for the Rays, their quest to claim their first win in Angel Stadium in two seasons has a significant obstacle standing in the way: John Lackey. Lackey has been one of the American League's best pitchers this season and has been a stalwart in the Anaheim rotation for three seasons running. Thrusted onto the national spotlight early on when he won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series in his rookie season, Lackey has since developed from a mediocre AL starter to an ace as Anaheim looks to clinch the AL West title. An innings-eater who has racked up 202 already this season, Lackey is backed by solid but not outstanding stuff. He achieves success not through large quantities of strikeouts, but through a consistent ability to limit opposing baserunners. Worse yet for Tampa Bay, he has had more success against the Rays than any other major league team against whom he has pitched at least 39 or more innings.
Recent Starts-Lackey has remained consistently solid all season long, and his last several starts are pretty much a microcosm of his season as a whole. Although he will always have his poor starts, if you take even three straight starts from his record at any point this year they will probably equate out to a respectable ERA. He has been integral for the Angels as they seek to maintain their hold on the AL West in recent weeks, a refreshing change from the rest of the inconsistent Anaheim staff. Last time out against Baltimore he gave up three runs in seven innings of work while striking out seven; not a great outing but one that kept the Angels in the game despite an eventual loss. Despite his consistency, he has won only once over the last month as the Angels have run through a patch of turbulence. Fortunately for them the Mariners have downright crashed at exactly the same moment, for all purposes handing the Angels the division as they back into the AL West title.
vs DEVIL RAYS-The Devil Rays have been one of Lackey's favorite targets in his five year career, as they have been held to a 2.51 ERA by Lackey over 64.2 innings of work. Unfortunately for Lackey, he has only been graced with the opportunity to face Tampa Bay but one time this year, although he made the most of it. Starting against the Rays on April 25th at Angel Stadium, Lackey surrendered just one run over six innings of work opposite Edwin Jackson in a 9-1 Angels win. Even worse for Tampa Bay is that the only player with any success against Lackey, Carl Crawford, is out for the series. Carlos Peña does have something going for him however, as he has a homer among three hits to go along with five walks in 16 ABs against the Anaheim starter.