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Game Notes: Rays go for series victory against Hector Santiago

Nathan Karns vs. Hector Santiago

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Archer is the indisputable ace of the Tampa Bay Rays' pitching staff and his performance this season has helped him build his case as one of the best young arms in all of baseball. Following last night's 15 strikeout performance against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Cy Young murmurs have officially begun.

A pitcher's dominance does not, however, guarantee a team's success. Given that a team's ace only takes the mound every five days, a dominant pitcher's team is only as good as the members of his supporting cast.

Enter Nathan Karns.

After an April of mixed results, the month of May was very good to Karns. In five starts last month, the 27-year-old right hander posted a 1.88 ERA in 28.2 innings of work, striking out 28 batters while only walking eight.

In tonight's game against the Angels, Karns looks to begin the month of June where May left off as the Rays look to win their ninth series of the season. The Angels will send Hector Santiago to the mound for the 10:05 start time at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

Today's Lineups

Brandon Guyer - LF Erick Aybar - SS
Joey Butler - DH Mike Trout - CF
Evan Longoria - 3B Albert Pujols - 1B
Logan Forsythe - 2B Kole Calhoun - RF
Steven Souza - RF David Freese - 3B
Jake Elmore - 1B Matt Joyce - DH
Asdrubal Cabrera - SS Carlos Perez - C
Mikie Mahtook - CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis - LF
Rene Rivera - C Johnny Giavotella - 2B
Nate Karns - RHP Hector Santiago - LHP

The Book on Hector Santiago

The Chicago White Sox drafted Hector Santiago in the 30th round of the 2006 first-year player draft. Used primarily as a relief pitcher in the minor leagues, Santiago, after a brief two-game debut in 2011, pitched out of the bullpen for the White Sox in 2012. In 42 games (38 relief appearances, 4 starts), Santiago threw 70.1 innings, striking out 79 batters and posting a 3.33 ERA.

Between 2013 with the White Sox and 2014 with the Angels, Santiago started 47 of his 64 appearances. In the second half of 2014, Santiago posted a 2.98 ERA in 63.1 innings, earning a one year/$2.29 million extension (to avoid arbitration) and a crack at the starting rotation in 2015.

In his first ten starts of the season, Santiago has provided the Angels with a surplus of value. In 62 innings of work, he has struck out 57 batters, walked 25, and posted an impressive 2.18 ERA. In his last outing against the Detroit Tigers, Santiago tossed 7.1 innings of shutout baseball en route to his third win of the season.

Santiago has been highly effective against left handed hitters, limiting them to a triple slash of .171/.269/.235; however, right handed hitters have fared much better against Santiago. Righties have combined for a triple slash of .228/.303/.361 and they have also hit five of the six home runs Santiago has surrendered this season.

An additional note: By the looks of his pitch count, it is quite evident that the 27-year-old southpaw does not have Kevin Cash as his manager. In his first ten starts, Santiago has thrown 100 or more pitches nine times.

Santiago's Arsenal and Approach

Santiago throws his fourseam fastball on the first pitch 71% of the time against lefties and 63% of the time against righties. If Santiago is behind in the count he will throw the fourseam nearly 70% of the time regardless of the batter's orientation.

While there is a consistent approach in his game plan against both right handed hitters and left handed hitters, Santiago approaches this plan with the use of different pitches.

Santiago is four times as likely to throw his changeup to righties than lefties, often missing the strike zone on the outside corner in attempt to get the batter to chase. In the same manner, Santiago uses his 12-6 curveball twice as often against lefties and his slider five times as often against lefties. Santiago almost exclusively throws both pitches to the low, outside corner.

Other Notes:

--Interesting article by the Los Angeles Times from Spring Training about Hector Santiago's confidence. It appears Albert Pujols is as intimidating to his own pitchers as he is to Rays' pitchers.

--Matt Moore made his first rehab start:

--And go Lightning!