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Game Preview: Alex Cobb vs. Ubaldo Jimenez

Let’s not-lose again

Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Rays will look to win their three-game home series with division rival Baltimore when the two meet for some glorious afternoon baseball on Wednesday. The Rays snapped their five-game losing streak Tuesday night, holding on by the tightest of margins in a 5-4 victory that kept them within a game of the second wild card spot in the American League.

The game will start at 12:10 p.m. and the Rays will get on the road right after, heading to New York for a key series against the Yanks starting on Thursday.

Starting Pitchers

Ubaldo Jimenez

Of the 94 pitchers with at least 90.0 innings pitched this season, Jimenez not only has the worst ERA of them all, but he holds that honor by over a run. His 7.19 ERA almost looks like a typo, but when you go to the gamelogs, it’s no surprise he’s rocking the highest ERA in baseball. Jimenez has nine starts in which he has allowed at least five runs, with the Rays actually giving him his best beatdown of the year the last time the two faced off (2.1 IP, 9 ER). Jimenez is prone to blowups, but he can also lock it down on occasion (8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER @TOR; 7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER @CIN), which makes him the only 7.00+ ERA pitcher who is kind of scary to face at the same time.

Jimenez has been brutalized by home runs this season, as he is allowing 2.14 homers per nine right now, with more than 20 percent of the fly balls he has allowed having left the park. It is because of that that his xFIP (4.91) is actually rather close to where he was last season and far superior to his ERA. However, when you give up 36.4 percent hard contact like Jimenez does, there are bound to be some long balls in the group.

Alex Cobb

Cobb has been a workhorse of late, going into the eighth inning in four of his last five starts and making it at least six innings in each of his last eight starts. Over that eight-start stretch, Cobb has lowered his season ERA nearly a full run thanks to a 2.35 ERA in that run. He has held opposing hitters below .200 during that stretch (.197), but that is thanks in part to a .211 opponent BABIP. Cobb is eschewing strikeouts for ground balls in 2017, with a 5.77 K/9 rate that ranks 69th (nice) out of 73 qualified starters this season. His aforementioned ground ball rate ranks 33rd and may not be enough to combat what appears to be a bit of good fortune on balls in play for Cobb this season.

Cobb is actually allowing a slightly worse hard contact rate (36.5 percent) than Jimenez, but he is not getting burned by nearly the same number of home runs. Certainly a part of that can be credited to Cobb’s superior pitching ability, but these two men absolutely reside on opposite sides of the luck spectrum in 2017.

Starting Lineups

Today's Lineup

Baltimore Orioles Tampa Bay Rays
Baltimore Orioles Tampa Bay Rays
Adam Jones - CF Mallex Smith - CF
Manny Machado - 3B Corey Dickerson - LF
Jonathan Schoop - 2B Evan Logoria - 3B
Chris Davis - 1B Logan Morrison - 1B
Mark Trumbo - DH Steven Souza - RF
Trey Mancini - LF Brad Miller - DH
Seth Smith - RF Wilson Ramos - C
Caleb Joseph - C Tim Beckham - 2B
Ruben Tejada - SS Adeiny Hechavarria - SS
Ubaldo Jimenez - RHP Alex Cobb - RHP