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Rays @ Orioles lineup and game preview - April 14

The Rays come to Camden Yards to begin a three-game series on Monday night. Probable starting pitchers are Chris Archer for the Rays and Wei-Yin Chen for the Orioles.

Patrick Smith


RHP Chris Archer, Rays

2013 stats: 3.22 ERA, 128.2 IP, 101 SO, .226 BAA, 1.13 WHIP

Anyone who throws a baseball has got to feel like they could shut down the Orioles lineup at this point. Archer is generally a three-pitch pitcher, using primarily a two-seam fastball, with a four-seam fastball and slider as secondary pitches, throwing change-ups just often enough to keep batters honest. All of that worked pretty well for him last year.

One thing that stands out when you look at Archer's minor league numbers compared to the major league numbers is that he has significantly cut his walk rate compared to any of his stops at lower levels. What kind of sorcery is involved in getting a pitcher to actually stop walking guys once he comes up to the big leagues? Maybe the Orioles could harness that kind of magic at some point.

As you'd expect for a righty, he performed well against right-handed batters in 2013 (.174/.234/.218), while lefties hit him much harder (.257/.329/.471). Anyway, the Orioles will strike out forever and never walk, so Archer is always in position to have a good night against this team.

LHP Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles

2013 stats: 4.07 ERA, 137 IP, 104 SO, .272 BAA, 1.32 WHIP

It hasn't been a very good start to the season for Chen, which is the kind of thing that you can hopefully chalk up to bad BABIP luck. Balls in play are falling in for hits at a .476 clip against Chen, where in his career it's been .295. Of course, you're going to have some bad BABIP luck when your left fielder is either Nelson Cruz or Delmon Young and you're a fly ball pitcher.

If it's been mostly bad luck, then we might be able to look forward to Chen's results coming closer to what you might theoretically expect based on his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and xFIP - which are 2.86 and 3.60, respectively. Bud Norris became the first non-Chris Tillman starter to put together a good game against the Blue Jays on Saturday. Maybe Chen can get in on that party today.


Rays (w/ career statistics vs. Chen)

1. Ben Zobrist (S) 25 PA, 1.067 OPS
2. Desmond Jennings (R) 19 PA, two hits
3. Logan Forsythe (R) none
4. Evan Longoria (R) 13 PA, .397 OPS
5. Wil Myers (R) 5 PA, one single
6. James Loney (L) none
7. Brandon Guyer (R) none
8. Yunel Escobar (R) 10 PA, one double
9. Ryan Hanigan (R) none

A whole lot of this lineup has never seen Chen before, and among those who have, only Zobrist has had any kind of success. Even for Zobrist, this is a small sample size, probably lacking any predictive value. It's a righty-loaded lineup and righties have a career .767 OPS against Chen.

Orioles (w/ career statistics vs. Archer)

1. Nick Markakis (L) 5 PA, one lone single
2. Nelson Cruz (R) 3 PA, .000
3. Chris Davis (L) 5 PA, one HR
4. Adam Jones (R) 7 PA, no hits, one walk
5. Matt Wieters (S) 6 PA, .000
6. David Lough (L) none
7. J.J. Hardy (R) 7 PA, .143/.143/.143
8. Steve Lombardozzi (S) 3 PA, one double
9. Ryan Flaherty (L) 4 PA, one hit

That's not a whole lot of action against Archer all the way around, and very little of what is there is anything positive. Fortunately, it only takes one good game for the O's to turn that kind of thing around, right? Right.