Cleveland Indians Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays, May 31-June 2

Longoria coming right at you - Tom Szczerbowski

The Indians try to keep their recent momentum when the Tampa Bay Rays make their only visit of the year.

The Tribe finishes their season series with a visit from the Tampa Bay Rays and conclude a short five game homestand. The three game set is scheduled for Friday May 31 at 7:05 PM and matinees on Saturday June 1 and Sunday June 2 at 1:05 PM. After the game, they will visit the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers in succession.

Team in a Box

Tampa Bay Rays

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2013 Record

29-24

Runs/Game

4.94

5th

Runs/Game

4.56

10th

AL East

4th

OBP

.332

4th

H/9

8.2

2nd

Last 10

6-4

SLG

.423

8th

BB/9

3.2

9th

Last 30

19-11

Steals

25

9th

SO/9

8.3

5th

The lineup is improved from when we saw them last. They are league average or better in most categories. They have the fourth best on-base percentage and that has pushed them up to fifth in runs even though they are eighth in slugging. They make decent contact as well with having the fifth fewest strikeouts. The pitching, the backbone of the 21012 team, has not been nearly as good as hoped. They are near the bottom in ERA, runs and hits given up. Only two guys in the rotation have been better than league average and the pen has routinely given up leads. They have an alright defense, but are dead last in double plays turned.

Projected Lineup

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

2B

Ben Zobrist

S

225

249

347

368

100

RF

Matt Joyce

L

164

264

348

507

134

LF

Kelly Johnson

L

172

290

349

548

145

3B

Evan Longoria

R

206

311

370

529

147

1B

James Loney

L

190

329

392

500

147

DH

Luke Scott

L

90

268

389

423

127

CF

Desmond Jennings

R

220

255

324

418

105

C

Jose Molina

R

102

247

280

344

73

SS

Yunel Escobar

R

184

228

286

359

79

The lineup was recently shifted, moving Zobrist to the top of the lineup and Jennings dropped to seventh. The only weak links in the lineup appear to be Escobar and Molina, which means they both will go nuts in this series. But Molina seems to be splitting time evenly with Jose Lobaton. James Loney has revitalized his career this season and Johnson and Longoria are supplying plenty of power. Reserves include Ryan Roberts, Sam Fuld and Sean Rodriguez.

Projected Starters

Date

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

May 31

Matt Moore (Kluber)

L

2.21

61.0

179

5.8

4.1

8.3

June 1

Chris Archer* (Jimenez)

R

4.60

29.1

84

7.1

4.0

11.0

June 2

Jeremy Hellickson (McAllister)

R

5.61

69.0

71

8.6

2.5

6.9

*2012 stats

The Indians catch a break here as we only face one their top two starters in this series. Moore is having a great 2013 season and in the past has been effective against us with a 4.02 ERA and 8.0 K/9 in three career starts against us. He pitched 6 shutout innings with eight strikeouts and only allowing two hits in the game back in April. Archer is the former Tribe farmhand, drafted in the fifth round in 2006. He went to the Cubs in the DeRosa trade and landed in Tampa for Matt Garza. This will be his 2013 debut. Hellickson has been much better against us, 2.37 ERA in 3 starts with a 1.053 WHIP but only 5.2 K/9. He didn't face us in the first series.

Key Relievers

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Fernando Rodney

R

5.16

22.2

77

6.4

7.5

11.5

Joel Peralta

R

2.08

26.0

192

5.5

3.8

9.7

Jake McGee

L

6.64

20.1

60

9.3

4.4

12.0

Rodney has made 44 appearances over the years against Cleveland and has been ok, a 4.02 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 12 saves. This year, the Indians scored two runs off him in 0.2 innings. He has routinely been blowing saves lately. Peralta has made 27 appearances against us and is 3.90 ERA, 7.8 K/9. He did pitch 1.2 perfect innings earlier this season against us. McGee was lit up pretty good in 2012 (15.43 ERA in 2.1 IP) but pitched 1 perfect inning this season. Cesar Ramos, Jamey Wright and Kyle Farnsworth also will probably pitch, with Wright having the best 2013.

On the Shelf

  • RP Juan Oviedo (Tommy John surgery) - 60-day DL, possible late 2013
  • SP Jeff Niemann (right shoulder) - 60-day DL, out for season
  • RP Brandon Gomes (right lat strain) - 15-day DL, no timetable for return
  • SP David Price (strained left triceps) ) - 15-day DL, no timetable for return

With Niemann and Price out, Roberto nee Fausto Hernandez has moved into the rotation, and been quite good lately.

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2013

1

2

333

13

10

618

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

74

48

607

663

517

612

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