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Series Preview: Archer vs Carrasco Headlines Trip To Cleveland

Rays try to build on momentum from Fenway series win

Kansas City Royals v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays, coming off a road series victory over the Boston Red Sox, will be facing the Cleveland Indians, currently 19-17 and one game behind the Twins for the lead in the American League Central. Cleveland has dropped their last two series against the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays.

The Matchups:

Monday 6:10 PM: Chris Archer vs Carlos Carrasco

Tuesday 6:10 PM: Jake Odorizzi vs Danny Salazar

Wednesday 12:10 PM: Alex Cobb vs Josh Tomlin

The Indians rotation has had a rough start.

The strength of the Indians coming into 2017 was expected to be their starting rotation. Carlos Carrasco has been dominant, but none of the other four primary starters has an ERA below 5.06. FIP views them as more unlucky than bad, however.

The series starts on a high note if you like elite pitching. Chris Archer vs Carlos Carrasco is one of the best pitching matchups that Rays fans will be treated to all year. Carrasco has a 1.86 ERA and 3.01 FIP. His 26.4% strikeout and 4.6% walk rates are marginally better than last year. He allows a low 30s fly ball rate, but he does allow homers once the ball is airborne.

His last start, featuring seven shut-out innings against the Blue Jays, was one of his best.

Last April Carrasco allowed one run in eight innings in his only start against the Rays.

Danny Salazar has a 5.20 ERA, but only a 3.53 FIP. He’s posted an obscene 32.3% strikeout rate, but he will give you opportunities with a 11.0% walk rate. When batters have put the ball in play he hasn’t been very fortunate allowing a .395 BABIP. In his last start, facing the Blue Jays, he didn’t make it far, allowing five runs in 2.2 innings. Last April he went six shutout innings against the Rays.

Josh Tomlin has posted a 5.87 ERA, but has a 3.35 FIP. Tomlin doesn’t strike out many (16.8%), but limits walks to a 2.5% rate. He’s allowed a .344 BABIP and an average 12.5% HR/FB rate. His last start against the Twins, when he allowed just one run in eight innings, was his best of the season. Last June the Rays tagged Tomlin for four runs and two homers in seven innings.

The Cody Allen and Andrew Miller show.

Andrew Miller and Cody Allen have shut down the opposition when given the opportunity. Andrew Miller hasn’t allowed a run and sports a 1.22 FIP in 17.1 innings. Cody Allen has posted a 1.23 ERA and 1.10 FIP in 14.2 innings. Miller and Allen both threw yesterday, but is their only appearance in the last four days. The Rays will have to go through them if they are behind or tied late.

Nick Goody (0.00 ERA/2.06 FIP), Bryan Shaw (2.12 ERA/2.77 FIP), and Zach McAllister (1.23 ERA/2.77 FIP) have been very effective in 12+ innings each.

LOOGY Boone Logan has posted a 2.57 ERA and 1.29 FIP in seven innings.

The Indians bullpen has done a tremendous job covering for the under performance of their rotation.

Francisco Lindor is good at baseball.

Overall the Indians offense hasn’t been as good as expected. They have combined for a .241/.322/.395 and 97 wRC+. They have scored 152 runs (4.22 runs per game) which places them at tenth fewest in the majors.

Francisco Lindor has been a very good baseball player since he was called up. This year he has taken his average power up a notch. He has hit eight homers and is carrying a .262 ISO. He’s hitting .282/.346/.542 and putting up a 137 wRC+. This is in addition to his incredible defense at short.

Jose Ramirez is continuing his breakout from last year. The switch hitter is batting .280/.353/.477 and 126 wRC+. He’s already hit six homers after hitting eleven all of last season.

The Indians went out and spent in free agency to bring in Edwin Encarnacion. Their investment hasn’t paid off yet as Encarnacion is batting .206/.353/.341 and 100 wRC+. Much like Brad Miller he is getting getting walked frequently, but he is not getting much when the ball is put in play.

The Rays shouldn’t have to worry about upsetting anybody with hit by pitches since Brandon Guyer was placed on the disabled list this past weekend.

Metrics are undecided on the Indians defense. They rank ninth with +5 DRS, however are fifth to last with -8.0 UZR.

The Indians come in a little slump.

They’ve lost three of the last four games. The Rays have an opportunity to take another series off a playoff contender.

The series starts with a great pitching matchup where runs are going to be hard to come by. Across the series, the Rays will have to take advantage against the starters before the game gets to the bullpen.

After the game Wednesday the Rays will have a well deserved off day. The Rays need to keep within striking distance of the leaders within the division so they will be well positioned to make a run once they have some key players back from injuries.