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The Citrus Series preview, Part 1: Kishi's Crystal Ball

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The Rays begin a three game series against the Marlins on Friday.

An unexpected starter; a bold prediction.
An unexpected starter; a bold prediction.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays begin a three game series against the cross-state rival Miami Marlins tonight at Marlin Park. The Rays won the last game of their opening series against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night, and look to piece together their first winning streak of the 2015 season.

The Marlins, having been swept by the Atlanta Braves in their first series of the season, are looking to get into the win column. Although  the first and third games of the three game series were close, the second game was a blood bath. Starting pitcher Mat Latos, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in an offseason trade, didn't make it out of the first inning. Latos allowed seven earned runs on six hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, and the Marlins lost by a final score of 12-2.

Friday night's starting pitcher for the Marlins, Dan Haren, came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers with second baseman Dee Gordon this offseason in exchange for 23-year-old pitching prospect, Andrew Heaney, and cash considerations. Haren originally said that he would not play for any team except the Dodgers and the Angels as he did not want to uproot his family from the West Coast. However, Haren agreed to pitch for the Marlins in early January and is set to earn $10 million this season. As part of the trade agreement, the Dodgers will pay the entirety of his salary.

In addition to Latos and Haren, the Marlins also signed first baseman Michael Morse to a two year, $16 million contract, and traded for Yankees utility infielder, Martin Prado.

Despite these additions, the Marlins' biggest offseason transactions was signing outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to contract extensions. Stanton signed a record-breaking 13-year, $325 million contract in November, just two months after catching Mike Fier's 88 mph fastball with his face. Many were skeptical of the signing, stating that it was simply Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria's latest scam. However, the seven year, $49.57 million extension that Yelich signed in late March seems to give Loria at least some credibility when he says that he has learned from his past and wants to bring a championship to Miami.

Marlins Key Additions: 2B Dee Gordon, P Dan Haren, P Matt Latos, 2B/3B Martin Prado, 1B Michael Morse

Marlins Season Projections: Fangraphs projects the Marlins to finish in third place in the National League East with an 80-82 record.

Game Previews

Friday

First Pitch: 7:10 PM EDT

Television Broadcast: FSFL, SUN

Probable Pitchers with 2014 statistics: Steve Geltz (0-1, 3.24 ERA, 6.97 FIP, 1.320 WHIP) vs. Dan Haren (13-11, 4.02 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 1.177 WHIP with Los Angeles Dodgers)

In 256 career games as a professional pitcher, Steve Geltz has never started a game on the mound. He has also never pitched longer than three and two-thirds innings in an outing. Because of this, it is a pretty safe bet that there will be an active bullpen and a lot of pitching changes. But call me an optimist, I think Geltz is going to have himself a game, go the minimum, and pick up the win. (Editor's note: You're an optimist, Kishi.)

Having only faced five members of the current roster, Dan Haren has limited experience against the Rays. He has dominated Asdrubal Cabrera, allowing only two hits in twenty-six at-bats. David DeJesus, meanwhile, has hit four extra base hits, including two home runs.

Current Rays Roster vs. Haren (career numbers):

Asdrubal Cabrera: 2-26, one walk, eight strikeouts
David DeJesus: 5-24, two home runs, two doubles, one walk, six strikeouts
Rene Rivera: 1-7, one strikeout
Evan Longoria: 2-7, one strikeout
Desmond Jennings: 0-2, one strikeout

Kishi's Crystal Ball: Geltz goes five innings and picks up the win in his first career start. (Editor's note: Come on, take this further. Add "Geltz Wally Pipps Alex Cobb and never leaves the rotation.")

Kishi's Key to Victory: If Geltz falters/pitches like a reliever, the bullpen (particularly Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Andriese) will need to step up and provide some long-inning relief. Furthermore, Kevin Cash will need to strategically use his bench as pinch hitters.

Saturday

First Pitch: 4:10 PM EDT

Television Broadcast: FSFL, SUN

Probable Pitchers with 2014 statistics: Chris Archer (10-9, 3.33 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 1.279 WHIP) vs. Jarred Cosart (13-11, 3.69 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 1.364 WHIP with Houston Astros and Miami Marlins)

Chris Archer will be making his second start of the season on Saturday afternoon. He pitched the season opener for the rays on Monday, giving up three earned runs in 5 ⅔ innings. Despite pitching seven innings of one-run ball against the Marlins last year, Archer still received the loss. He was simply outdueled by Henderson Álvarez (see Sunday's preview).

Chris Archer pitched one time against the Marlins in 2014:

June 3, 2014: (L) 7 innings, 1 earned run, five hits, two walks, eight strikeouts.

Chris Archer vs. the Current Marlins Roster (career numbers):

Ichiro Suzuki: 3-14, two strikeouts
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: 0-5, one walk, four strikeouts
Mike Morse: 2-5, one double, one strikeout
Adeiny Hechavarria: 1-3
Jeff Mathis: 0-3, two strikeouts
Marcell Ozuna: 1-3, one double, two strikeouts
Giancarlo Stanton: 0-3, one strikeout
Christian Yelich: 0-1, two walks, one strikeout
Henderson Alvarez: 1-2, one strikeout
Don Kelly: 0-2
Martin Prado: 0-0, walk

Jarred Cosart will be making his first start of the season on Saturday night. Prior to being traded to the Marlins at the trading deadline last season, Cosart made two starts against the Rays as a member of the Astros. In 15 innings, Cosart only allowed three earned runs. He did, however, allow 15 hits as well.

Jarred Cosart pitched two times against the Rays in 2014:

June 14, 2014: (W) 7 innings, 3 earned runs, 9 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
June 20, 2014: (W) 8 innings, 0 earned runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Jarred Cosart vs. the Current Rays Roster (career numbers)

Desmond Jennings: 1-10, one walk
Evan Longoria: 2-10, one home run, three RBI
James Loney: 2-9, one double
Kevin Kiermaier: 2-7, two doubles, one walk
Asdrubal Cabrera: 2-5, one triple, one walk
John Jaso: 0-1, three walks
David DeJesus: 1-2, one walk
Logan Forsythe: 1-3, one strikeout
Brandon Guyer: 2-3

Kishi's Crystal Ball: This will be the rubber match of the series. I predict the Rays to win by a score of 2-1.
Kishi's Key to Victory: Archer needs to outpitch Cosart.

Sunday

First Pitch: 1:10 PM EDT

Television Broadcast: FSFL, SUN

Probable Pitchers with 2014 statistics: Nathan Karns (1-1, 4.50 ERA, 5.72 FIP, 0.917 WHIP) vs. Henderson Álvarez (12-7, 2.65 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 1.235 WHIP)

Karns dug his team into a hole right off the bat in his first start of the season against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday. In the first two innings, Karns gave up six earned runs. Baltimore's quick start proved insurmountable.

Karns has never faced any of the Marlins' hitters.

Henderson Álvarez will also be making his second start of the season. Although allowing only two runs in seven innings against the Braves on Monday, he received no offensive help and the Marlins lost 2-0.

Álvarez is not a strikeout pitcher, thus he pitches to contact. In a complete game shutout against the Rays in June of last year, Álvarez only needed 88 pitches to record the 27 outs. Although the Rays were able to accumulate eight hits, the team grounded into three double plays and were 0-3 with runners in scoring position.

Look for Evan Longoria to do well against Álvarez as he has sevens hits, including three home runs, in 13 at-bats.

Henderson Álvarez pitched one time against the Rays in 2014:

June 3, 2014: (W) 9 innings, 0 earned runs, 8 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts

Henderson Álvarez vs. the Current Rays Roster (career numbers):

Evan Longoria: 7-13, three home run, two walks, three strikeouts
Desmond Jennings: 4-11, two home run
David DeJesus: 2-9, one home run, one walk, one strikeout
Bobby Wilson: 2-8
Kevin Kiermaier: 1-4, one triple
Chris Archer: 0-2
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0-2, one strikeout

Kishi's Crystal Ball: Longoria will hit a home run his first time up.

Kishi's Key to Victory: Karns will need to make it into the sixth inning, especially if the bullpen is used extensively in Friday night's game and on Saturday.

Next Up: The Rays are in Toronto for a four game series against the Blue Jays, beginning on Monday. Odorizzi is set to make his second start of the season against Toronto's R.A. Dickey.

In part two of this series preview, Ian will break down the projections for each batter/pitcher matchup.