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Rays vs Tigers Preview: Tampa goes for series sweep

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Erasmo Ramirez takes the mound as the Rays go for the series sweep.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Today, Erasmo Ramirez and the Rays look to conclude a three-game set with a win before welcoming in the first-place Astros for a weekend series.

The Rays have won the first two games of the series. In the opener, Tim Beckham and Matt Andriese lead the way in a rebound win. In game #2, the Rays got some help from Jose Iglesias (hope you’re ok, Jose) at shortstop on their way to a thrilling game-ending error, scoring the tying and deciding runs in the 8-7 victory.

Today’s game will not be televised on Fox Sports Sun, but will be broadcasted on WDAE 620 AM. First pitch is set for 1:10 PM ET. For those with the benefit on MLB.tv, the Tigers will have a televised broadcast of the game.

Starting Pitchers

Erasmo Ramirez

The right-hander stepped up favorably in relief of Jake Odorizzi’s (hamstring) sudden exit from the game in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Red Sox. He gave up one earned run on three hits over four innings while striking out two.

The outing was Ramirez's longest of the season by far, and he's now posting a 3.72 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 5:1 K:BB over 9.2 innings.

Ramirez, a former starter, was most recently called upon in 2015 to eat up innings as a starter for Tampa Bay. The 26-year old was decent in 27 games started for Tampa, eating up 163.3 innings while going 11-6 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.

Ramirez relies heavily on his sinker (92mph), generating a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers. He also mixes in a Slider (85mph), Cutter (90mph), Change (83mph) and Fourseam Fastball (93mph) which are almost all extreme flyball pitches.

Daniel Norris

Norris (1-0, 2.19 ERA) pitched six masterful innings Friday, allowing zero runs on two hits and issuing four walks while striking out five in a win over the Indians.

As evidenced by the four walks given up, the left-hander struggled with his command - throwing just 53 percent of his pitches for strikes.

Norris has struggled mightily vs. LHB’s in 2017 (9 AB’s), allowing hitters to mash .375/.444/.500 from the left side of the plate. He’s done well vs. RHB’s, however, holding hitters to the tune of .162/.279/.243 from the right side of the plate.

For a larger sample size, let’s look at Norris’ 2016 splits.

RHB: .290/.332/.469

LHB: .214/.291/.357

HOME: 292/.347/.506

AWAY: .244/.288/.358

Norris displayed typical splits between LHB’s and RHB’s in 2016. All things considered, this will be a stiff test for the Rays.

Arsenal

In 2017, Norris has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (94mph), also mixing in a Slider (87mph), Change (86mph) and Curve (77mph).

Norris uses his Fourseam Fastball to induce many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers. Given that the fastball is his primary pitch (62.3% usage), Norris is known to be a groundball pitcher.

Narratives

Today is a “bullpen day” for the Rays, stretching out Erasmo Ramirez for his first start in more than a year. Knowing this, Kevin Cash was looking for a long outing from Chris Archer on Wednesday, but the ace only managed to go five innings leaving after 104 pitches. Nonetheless, the Rays bullpen performance will be a key factor in the outcome of this game. Let’s jump over .500!

The Tigers will look to clean up their game today after some defensive miscues in the field and another forgetting performance from their league-worst bullpen (6.75 ERA). Detroit currently sits in first place in the AL Central with a record of 8-6.

Starting Lineups

Today's Lineups

Tampa Bay Rays Detroit Tigers
Tampa Bay Rays Detroit Tigers
Steven Souza Jr. - RF Ian Kinsler - 2B
Kevin Kiermaier - CF Tyler Collins - RF
Evan Longoria - DH Miguel Cabrera - DH
Rickie Weeks - 1B Nicholas Castellanos - 3B
Brad Miller - 2B James McCann - C
Tim Beckham - SS Alex Avila - 1B
Daniel Robertson - 3B Andrew Romine - LF
Jesus Sucre - C JaCoby Jones - CF
Peter Bourjous - LF Dixon Machado - SS