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Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers at Tampa Bay Rays

The Dodgers make first trip to Tropicana Field since the Devil was exorcised.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angelenos are in town making their first trip to Tropicana Field since 2007. As the Rays welcome back Carl Crawford, Scott Kazmir, J.P. Howell, former farmhand Adam Libertore the visit has a class reunion feel.

The Dodgers come in scuffling offensively as they had lost six in a row before Clayton Kershaw was able to stop the skid on Sunday with a complete game.  As the Dodgers won that match 1-0 and Kershaw drove in the game's only run, the team still would seem to be in a bit of a slump.  We're proud to note that the Rays have managed to field a similarly anemic offense for a fraction of the payroll.

The Match ups:

Tuesday: Scott Kazmir vs Matt Moore

Wednesday: Alex Wood vs Drew Smyly

The Rays have two favorable matchups for this abbreviated two game series. They will be able to mobilize  their right handed bats and do what they have done best over the last few years -- mash lefties. This year the Rays haven't lost a beat as they bring in a .251/.315/.419, .322 wOBA, 112 wRC+ line against lefties.

Dodger's Pitchers:

The Rays are fortunate to have missed Kershaw's slot in the rotation and will have a much easier path to victory this series.

Player IP K% BB% HR% AVE OBP SLG wOBA ERA FIP
Scott Kazmir 414.0 22.2% 7.8% 10.2% 0.241 0.307 0.388 0.307 3.63 3.80
Alex Wood 347.2 19.9% 7.9% 9.5% 0.258 0.326 0.384 0.313 3.73 3.68

The left handed pitchers Scott Kazmir and Alex Wood will face a difficult task as the Rays will likely deploy entirely right handed lineups except for Kevin Kiermaier. While they aren’t significantly worse against right handed batters they show some splits and the Rays hitters should take advantage of it.

Player IP K% BB% HR% AVE OBP SLG wOBA ERA FIP
Scott Kazmir 142.1 19.9% 4.7% 10.0% 0.255 0.297 0.376 0.297 3.67 3.33
Alex Wood 119.1 23.9% 5.8% 5.6% 0.246 0.299 0.327 0.280 2.41 2.38

The major differences are lower OBPs allowed to lefty hitters through lower walk rates. Alex Wood is good at limiting damage against left handed batters as he allows only a .081 ISO. Kiermaier will have his hands full, but he'll remain in the lineup for his elite glove.

Bullpen

The bullpen for the Dodgers has seen limited work of late, during which time they have not been very effective. In the last seven days the only pitcher that has seen more than 2.1 innings is Louis Coleman, who has thrown four innings over three appearances. Kenley Jansen, Adam Liberatore, and J.P. Howell have only pitched one inning each.

Player IP K% BB% HR% AVE OBP SLG wOBA ERA FIP
Kenley Jansen 113.1 44.6% 6.1% 10.2% 0.159 0.216 0.277 0.219 1.91 1.77
J.P. Howell 76.2 18.8% 10.5% 9.3% 0.245 0.328 0.343 0.299 2.58 3.72
Pedro Baez 58.0 26.3% 5.6% 10.4% 0.225 0.276 0.389 0.287 3.10 3.32
Chris Hatcher 64.1 26.4% 4.6% 10.4% 0.286 0.325 0.446 0.334 4.90 2.90
Adam Liberatore 16.1 24.6% 9.2% 14.3% 0.220 0.292 0.356 0.262 6.61 3.86
Louis Coleman 52.0 21.2% 8.0% 12.7% 0.229 0.303 0.384 0.307 3.63 4.26
Joe Blanton 109.0 22.1% 4.2% 16.5% 0.276 0.313 0.486 0.344 4.87 4.13

As the Rays will stack right handed batters, the Dodgers righty relievers are most likely to get the call.  Of those, Jansen is not a pitcher the Rays batters will want to face. He's one of the best relievers in MLB over the past few seasons.  Otherwise the Dodger's bullpen has not had great results from the right side.

Southpaw relievers have had better success, although our friend JP Howell has struggled.  So far on the season he has only struck out two and walked one over seven innings while allowing seven runs without a single home run.

Player IP K% BB% HR% AVE OBP SLG wOBA ERA FIP
Kenley Jansen 91.2 30.7% 5.4% 8.1% 0.233 0.270 0.318 0.262 2.65 2.18
J.P. Howell 85.1 24.3% 8.5% 3.5% 0.191 0.269 0.240 0.234 2.11 2.58
Pedro Baez 27.2 27.9% 6.3% 9.1% ..192 0.245 0.353 0.258 2.93 3.05
Chris Hatcher 50.1 22.2% 11.8% 10.6% 0.199 0.301 0.357 0.288 4.29 4.09
Adam Liberatore 19.2 22.8% 6.3% 5.0% 0.203 0.253 0.329 0.248 0.92 2.72
Louis Coleman 24.2 18.9% 13.2% 0.0% 0.239 0.340 0.348 0.304 2.19 3.18
Joe Blanton 110.0 19.1% 6.6% 15.7% 0.287 0.337 0.485 0.350 4.50 4.40

Dodger's Hitters:

The Dodgers are coming off a particularly tough stretch where they have only managed to put up a .159/.268/.236, .233 wOBA, 42 wRC+ line over the past seven days.

Player PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Adrian Gonzalez 586 13 1 6.7% 19.6% 0.259 0.311 0.402 0.312 100
Yasiel Puig 380 14 2 12.1% 17.1% 0.282 0.380 0.466 0.369 140
Corey Seager 77 3 0 10.4% 14.3% 0.279 0.351 0.471 0.350 124
Justin Turner 351 8 3 8.5% 16.5% 0.276 0.342 0.419 0.333 115
Yasmani Grandal 216 3 0 15.7% 24.1% 0.227 0.352 0.324 0.306 97
Chase Utley 508 10 10 9.3% 15.7% 0.223 0.309 0.359 0.298 87
Joc Pederson 143 6 0 10.5% 37.1% 0.197 0.282 0.362 0.280 77
Carl Crawford 213 3 2 6.1% 15.5% 0.247 0.303 0.351 0.292 87
Enrique Hernandez 147 6 1 11.6% 16.3% 0.367 0.442 0.641 0.458 197
Howie Kendrick 442 10 4 7.2% 16.5% 0.301 0.351 0.440 0.342 122
A.J. Ellis 304 8 0 18.4% 14.8% 0.225 0.370 0.393 0.341 120
Tayce Thompson 83 3 0 4.8% 19.3% 0.316 0.349 0.595 0.399 154
Charlie Culberson 121 1 1 4.1% 19.0% 0.239 0.273 0.336 0.265 48

The Dodgers have been one of the worst teams against left handed pitching this season. They have only put up .228/.295/.366, .258 wOBA, and 78 wRC+.

Yasiel Puig is the one big bat to worry about for a left handed pitcher. He has struggled to start the year with a .239/.300/.380, .300 wOBA, 84 wRC+ line. The Rays pitchers will need to make sure he stays cold.

Howie Kendrick has been notorious for as a Ray killer in the past, hitting .349/.395/.540 over 206 plate appearances. However, he has had a LoMoesque start to the season at .143/.172/.143, .143 wOBA, -15 wRC+. Keeping him cold against the Rays will be beneficial.

Player PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Adrian Gonzalez 1465 67 1 9.5% 15.3% 0.290 0.357 0.500 0.366 137
Yasiel Puig 1103 34 26 8.1% 22.0% 0.293 0.362 0.484 0.368 139
Corey Seager 145 3 3 10.3% 16.6% 0.295 0.372 0.473 0.366 132
Justin Turner 715 17 8 7.1% 16.8% 0.312 0.377 0.472 0.371 140
Yasmani Grandal 815 30 3 14.4% 22.3% 0.233 0.344 0.419 0.338 118
Chase Utley 1206 28 13 7.6% 13.5% 0.276 0.340 0.437 0.335 112
Joc Pederson 557 23 5 17.6% 27.1% 0.218 0.369 0.422 0.349 124
Carl Crawford 846 15 46 5.1% 15.6% 0.292 0.332 0.427 0.331 114
Enrique Hernandez 268 6 0 5.2% 20.1% 0.236 0.281 0.364 0.284 80
Howie Kendrick 1298 19 22 5.2% 17.2% 0.286 0.329 0.392 0.317 105
A.J. Ellis 753 13 0 10.6% 17.8% 0.222 0.311 0.316 0.282 80
Tayce Thompson 104 3 1 11.5% 24.0% 0.261 0.346 0.413 0.335 110
Charlie Culberson 237 4 6 4.6% 27.8% 0.221 0.270 0.323 0.262 47

The Dodgers have a really good offense against right handed pitchers, led by Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner, and Corey Seager as really good bats in the 130-140 wRC+ range. Their lineup is really deep versus righties, but luckily for the Rays they should have very few opportunities.

Series Breakdown:

This is a battle between two offenses that have been scuffling over the last week. The good news for the Rays is they get their preferred match up against left handed pitchers while avoiding Clayton Kershaw. For all the struggles on offense the Rays have still mashed lefties.

The Rays also start two lefties in an ideal match up with Matt Moore and Drew Smyly slated to start. From the bullpen Xavier Cedeno and Enny Romero will likely need to pitch some quality innings to get to the finish line.

I know it's starting to sound like a broken record, but I really like this match up for the Rays and they should be solid favorites in both games. The Rays should be able to unleash their right handed bats on some middle tier left handed starters.