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Series preview: Rays at White Sox

After another chance to take on the Midwest.

The best hitter in the series.
The best hitter in the series.
Duane Burleson

After losing two out of three games against the Minnesota Twins, in which the starting pitching was ineffective and the bullpen was taxed, the Rays will take on another Midwestern team with eerily similar numbers (or should I say Michigan-y similar numbers).

The White Sox have so far posted the worst xFIP in all of baseball (4.63, right behind the Twins), and the Rays won't have to face injured ace Chris Sale. On the other side of the ball, they've produced well though, with a 109 wRC+, good for fifth in baseball (right behind the Twins). Essentially, the Rays get another shot at the Twins. Redemption?

Here is an interactive graph of batter-pitcher matchup projections for every game of the series. The matchup projections come from a tool I made with Jason Hanselman (Dock of the Rays) that incorporates Bojan Koprivica's research on regressing platoon splits and ZiPS projections. The grey line is at an average wOBA of .320.

Thanks to Jason's work, these projections are now park-adjusted. The overall and vs. average L/R pitchers displayed are park-neutral, and the matchup is paced in the park where it will be played.

RHP Chris Archer (3.67 FIP 182 ERA) vs. RHP Erik Johnson (4.72 FIP, 49 IP), 8:10


With right-handed slugger Jose Abreu being neutralized by Archer's plus-plus slider, these projections think that Adam Eaton will be the most dangerous White Sox hitter in this game, and while he's been out with a hamstring injury, Eaton may be set to return. As a credible center fielder, Eaton is likely a very fine baseball player overall, and is exactly the type of player that rebuilding teams like the Diamondbacks should be hanging on to. But the Diamondback's loss is the White Sox' gain, and now Chris Archer must work around Adam Eaton.

One interesting note, Dayan Viciedo has no observed platoon split so far is his still-young career, although regressing those splits still make him out to be a normal righty.

LHP Cesar Ramos (3.83 FIP, 175 ERA) vs. LHP John Danks (4.29 FIP, 1135 ERA), 7:10


Tip for the Rays: Score some runs this game, and be afraid of Jose Abreu.

LHP David Price (3.39 FIP, 1008 IP) vs. TBD, 2:10


I decided, arbitrarily, that the role of TBD will be played in my graph by an average righty, so don't pay too much attention to the blue bars. Abreu will still be dangerous against Price, and Paul Konerko and Viciedo may be above average, but the rest of the Chicago lineup should struggle. This is a given, but with so much of the Rays rotation in question right now, they really need to win the game that David Price pitches.

RHP Jake Odorizzi (4.19 FIP, 56 IP) vs. RHP Andre Rienzo (5.79 FIP, 63 IP), 8:10


This is a matchup of young pitchers trying to carve a spot for themselves in the major league rotation, and on the face of it, it's pretty even. The projection here, though, has a lot of "average pitcher" regressed into both of them, and the 5.41 ERA projection that Steamer gives Rienzo for the rest of the season is quite a bit higher than the 4.18 ERA projection it gives Odorizzi. If Odor can figure out how to pitch through the lineup a second time, the Rays should have a significant advantage in this game.