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Opening Day Game Preview: Tampa Bay Rays vs Boston Red Sox

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Chris Archer takes on Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox to kick off the 2018 season

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Opening Day has finally arrived.

Starting Pitchers

Chris Archer vs Chris Sale

Archer is entering his 7th year in the majors (all with the Rays), once again starting their first game of the season, as he has done every year beginning in 2015.

Last season, Archer started 34 games for the Rays, finishing the year with a 10-12 record, 4.07 ERA / 3.40 FIP, while positing the best strikeout and walk percentages of his career. He performed solidly against righties and lefties, the number to watch will how he does his third time through the order.

The Rays will be counting on Archer to pitch deep into games in order for the four man rotation to reach its potential. During the 2017 season, hitters had a .364 wOBA against Archer when going through the order for a third time against him.

Chris Sale Scouting Report

Heading into his 9th season in the majors, Sale is among the best, if not the best pitcher in baseball. He was ridiculously good for the Boston Red Sox after they acquired him last off-season as he recorded 17 victories, thanks to a 2.90 ERA / 2.45 FIP. He led qualified starting pitchers with a 36.2 K% and his 5.1 BB% was among the lowest.

His splits show a slight benefit to right-handed hitters, but still they barely mustered over .260 wOBA against Sale during the 2017 season.

He is just really, really good.

His repertoire, courtesy of Brooks Baseball

Chris Sale threw 21,068 pitches that were tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2010 and 2017, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Spring Training. In 2017, he relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (95mph) and Slider (80mph), also mixing in a Change using a Circle Change grip (87mph) and Sinker (93mph).

His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has an obvious tail, is blazing fast, has some natural sinking action and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers. His slider sweeps across the zone and has exceptional depth. His change is thrown extremely hard, has an obvious armside fade, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ changeups and has some natural sink to it. His sinker has an obvious tail, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has well above average velo and has some natural sinking action.

Pitch usage

Starting Lineups

Today's Lineups

BOSTON RED SOX TAMPA BAY RAYS
Mookie Betts - RF Matt Duffy - 3B
Andrew Benintendi - LF Kevin Kiermaier - CF
Hanley Ramirez - 1B Carlos Gomez - RF
J.D. Martinez - DH C.J. Cron - 1B
Xander Bogaerts - SS Wilson Ramos - C
Rafael Devers - 3B Denard Span - LF
Eduardo Nunez - 2B Adeiny Hechavarria - SS
Jackie Bradley - CF Daniel Robertson - 2B
Christian Vazquez - C Rob Refsnyder - DH
Chris Sale - LHP Chris Archer - RHP