First two games are 10:05 PM starts; third game is a 3:35 PM start.
Monday, August 23: James Shields (4.50 FIP) vs. Scott Kazmir (5.87 FIP)
Tuesday, August 24: Wade Davis (5.26 FIP) vs. Ervin Santana (4.41 FIP)
Wednesday, August 25: Jeff Niemann (4.44 FIP) vs. Dan Haren (3.80 FIP)
The Angels have a middling offense that's being held together with glue and spit - namely, Bobby Abreu, Alberto Callaspo, and Torii Hunter. Their team doesn't walk much (7.4%), doesn't strikeout much (19.1%), hits for average power (.145 ISO), and is one of the slowest/worst running teams in the majors (ranked second to last in Speed score). They hopefully shouldn't pose a challenge for the Rays' pitchers, although it will be interesting to see how Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann do in their first starts back from the DL. They'll be well rested, so hopefully there isn't any rust.
With such an offense, it's impressive that they're only eight games behind the Texas Rangers for the lead in the AL West. Their pitching staff has performed at a middle-of-the-road ability level so far (eighth worst FIP in majors, ninth worst ERA), led by Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Joel Piniero. Thankfully the Rays only face one of those three this series, and it's the one with a homerun issue.
With this combination of meh offense and below-average pitching, how are they still only one game below .500? I don't know, it's a mystery to me too.
Keys to the Series:
- Beat Kazmir. He's an absolute shell of himself and he's been lucky to last five innings recently. Be patient and drive his pitch count up - he'll walk a bunch of batters and leave the game early.
- Good returns from Davis and Niemann. This goes without saying, but we need them both to be good down the stretch - especially Niemann. I'm excited to watch the Niemann-Haren match-up without having to stay up until 1 AM.