One of the starting pitchers in tonight's game has yet to allow an earned run on the season. The other one has yet to give anyone any reason to believe that the second half of his last season was for real. That's Matt Moore for the Rays and Chris Tillman for the Orioles. I think you already know which is which.
Yesterday, I pointed out that a not-so-good Rays offense might be a good team for Jake Arrieta to build some confidence against. Indeed, the Rays have the second-lowest team OPS in all of MLB, a sub-Izturisian .588. By comparison, the worst team offense all of last season was the Mariners with a .665. It is unlikely the Rays are as bad as they are showing now, but they could be bad. Arrieta did nothing to show they were bad. They will wait you out and take walks if you don't throw strikes.
Tillman is a guy who has problems throwing strikes. He's walked six batters in nine innings across two starts, which has a lot to do with why he's had only nine innings across two starts. That's bad. Orioles starters need to go deeper into games and to do that they need to not walk too many batters.
Last night, as Arrieta was sent out to start the 6th inning, having already thrown 107 pitches, MASN play-by-play man Gary Thorne intoned that manager Buck Showalter was issuing a challenge to his starter to make it farther into the game. Arrieta walked the batter on five pitches and was yanked. An apt metaphor for the entire "cavalry" of once-promising, now-disappointing Orioles starters.
Maybe Tillman will turn it around tonight, but probably he won't, because that's how these things go. If he could turn things around, and if he could make it at least six innings, that would be a positive for the team. Last night's unfortunate outing by Pedro Strop meant that five relievers had to be used in the game. Give most of them the night off, will you, Chris? That would be great.
If Moore wants to keep his clean sheet for 2013, he'd better watch out for Matt Wieters, who's hit two home runs off him in 11 plate appearances, part of a 5-for-8 with three walks. That is the essence of a small sample size. It's also a 2.102 OPS. Whoa. Wieters is batting significantly better as a right-handed batter than a lefty this season: a 1.300 OPS as opposed to a .486 OPS as a lefty. Moore is a lefty, meaning Wieters will bat right-handed. Now that I've said all that, he'll probably get a golden sombrero tonight.
Tillman's prime nemesis, also in a small sample size, is Evan Longoria: 6-for-12 with 3 home runs in 15 PA. That's a .500/.600/1.250 slash line. I hear he's also pretty good at playing third base - but I hear Manny Machado is even better. Did you see that play last night? Holy crap.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Desmond Jennings - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Kelly Johnson - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Ben Zobrist - RF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Matt Joyce - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Shelley Duncan - DH|
|Nate McLouth - LF||James Loney - 1B|
|Nolan Reimold - DH||Jose Molina - C|
|Alexi Casilla - 2B||Yunel Escobar - SS|