Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays, April 5-7

Incoming .... - J. Meric

The Indians continue their start of 2013 with another AL East contender, the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Tribe continues their first road trip in Tropicana Field with a three game set scheduled for Friday April 5 and Saturday April 6 with 7:10 PM start times and a matinee on Sunday April 7 at 1:40 PM. After the game, they will head home for their home opener against the New York Yankees.

Team in a Box

Tampa Bay Rays

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2012 Record

90-72

Runs/Game

4.30

11th

Runs/Game

3.56

1st

AL East

3rd

OBP

.317

8th

SO/9

8.5

1st

Last 10*

1-2

SLG

.394

11th

BB/9

2.9

7th

Spr. Training

15-17

Steals

134

2nd

H/9

7.6

1st

Last season, the Rays were pretty awful offensively save their running game. But that pitching staff was electric. Best in run prevention, strikeouts and hits allowed is a pretty impressive feat.

The offseason brought changes, but not perhaps any upgrades. Yunel Escobar replaces Elliott Johnson at short but might be a downgrade as a hitter. With BJ Upton off to Atlanta, Desmond Jennings slides over to center, Matthew Joyce shifts to left and former second baseman Ben Zobrist takes over in right. The second baseman is Kelly Johnson, who is no BJ Upton. Last off-season's hot commodity Carlos Pena tanked horrifically and has been replaced by former Dodger prospect James Loney. But when Wil Myers gets called up after protecting his Super-Two status in June, the lineup will get a boost.

Projected Lineup (with 2012 stats)

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

CF

Desmond Jennings

R

563

246

314

388

97

DH

Sam Fuld

L

107

255

318

327

83

2B

Ben Zobrist

S

668

270

377

471

138

3B

Evan Longoria

R

312

289

369

527

149

LF

Matt Joyce

L

462

241

341

429

116

SS

Yunel Escobar

R

608

253

300

344

75

1B

James Loney

L

465

249

293

336

73

C

Jose Molina

R

274

223

286

640

80

2B

Kelly Johnson

L

507

225

313

365

84

Expect to see Ryan Roberts replace Joyce's spot in the lineup at 2B when a lefty is the starter and Zobrist in the outfield. It is conceivable this lineup will in fact be worse than last year's with the changes made. But if Luke Scott comes back healthy and Longoria stays healthy, the 1-4 spots will be a tough ride. Jennings is entering his prime and the middle looks good, but spots 6-9 are mostly a cakewalk.

Projected Starters (with 2012 stats)

Date

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

April 5

Matt Moore

L

3.81

177.1

8.0

4.1

8.9

April 6

Alex Cobb

R

4.03

136.1

8.6

2.6

7.0

April 7

David Price

L

2.56

211.0

7.4

2.5

8.7

Looks like we get to try out our revamped line-up against two lefties, our kryptonite the past few years. Moore was good last year, albeit with a high BB rate. Cobb had a bit of success last year and is only 24. And Price, is well, a Cy Young candidate year in and year out. Don't expect Masterson to outpitch him.

Key Relievers (with 2012 stats)

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Fernando Rodney

R

0.60

74.2

5.2

1.8

9.2

Joel Peralta

R

3.63

67.0

6.6

2.3

11.3

Jake McGee

L

1.95

55.1

5.4

1.8

11.9

Rodney had one of the best reliever years ever last year. A repeat is probably unlikely. The rest of the pen is as good, if not better than the Tribe's. So if the Indians plan on winning games, it better be off the starters and not the pen. Other projected relievers include righties Kyle Farnsworth and LGFT Jamey Wright.

On the Shelf

  • Juan Oviedo - (Tommy John surgery) - 60-day DL, possible late 2013
  • Luke Scott (right calf) - 15-day DL, possible late April

With Scott on the DL, Sam Fuld will probably get some burn.

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2013

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

2012

4

4

500

34

39

438

Last 5

18

20

474

183

185

495

Last 10

44

34

564

393

344

561

All-Time

53

37

589

468

391

582

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