ALDS Game Five Preview: Tampa Bay

This is the fifth meeting within seven days for these two teams. They know each other pretty well by now, meaning few secrets remain. Perhaps the only secret is which player Joe Maddon will start at designated hitter. The two options are Dan Johnson and Willy Aybar.

The switch-hitting Aybar would be the intuitive choice with lefty-tossing Cliff Lee on the mound. Lee doesn’t have much of a platoon split himself, though, and lefties have actually fared better against him this season than righties. Besides, Aybar had a miserable season all around and posted a .304 wOBA versus lefties. The previous two seasons with the Rays included wOBA of .347 and .381 against abnormal humans, so you can see how this is a new experience for Aybar, who displayed less power and less motivation for free passes.

Johnson bats lefty but has a career .330 wOBA against same-handed pitchers in nearly 400 plate appearances. His skill set is an interesting one given Lee’s dominance in the strike zone. Johnson nary swings at pitches outside of the strike zone and only swings at pitches in the zone a little more often. He’s a take hitter which seemingly makes him a poor matchup against Lee – after all, two takes and it could be 0-2 already.

History suggests Maddon will roll with Aybar, as he did in two of the three regular season affairs, but it is worth noting that the Rays left Aybar off the postseason roster entirely in favor of Rocco Baldelli. That’s relevant because if one didn’t know better, Baldelli’s entire purpose on the roster was to play in game one before ducking out due to fatigue. Whoever Maddon decides to play, it’s not expected to matter much, but who knows what will happen in one last game.

The game of musical DH chairs will end tomorrow night and so will one of these teams’ seasons.

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12 Responses to “ALDS Game Five Preview: Tampa Bay”

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  1. george says:

    Was thinking there might be some allusion to Lee vs. Price. Dummy me LOL… surprised I’ve not read a sniff of Price’s HUUUUUGE inning jump (128IP ’09, > 215 including post-season ’10) might be cause for pause, given that he hasn’t necessarily been setting the world on fire of late.

    Oh, he did shut down those filthy Orioles, but has otherwise been middling of late, though noting a high concentration of NYY, BOS/ALL OTHERS… he wasn’t sharp or lucky last time out.

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    • Sam A says:

      Are you including the innings Price threw in AAA in his 2009 total?

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      • george says:

        no i did, not, tks… that takes him to 162… thinking we’re probably a bit above what they’d like to see – up by >30% coming into today?

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    • NEPP says:

      That jump should hurt him next year more than this year…though he could be on fumes at this point. That’s similar to the huge jump that Cole Hamels had from 2007 to 2008…the one that hurt him all last year (along with conditioning issues).

      I simply dont see Price crapping the bed twice in one series.

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      • george says:

        Said Price: “I will not change anything up. I don’t feel I had my good stuff on Wednesday, and I am looking forward to coming in on Tuesday with my better stuff.”

        OK, if only it were that simple?

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      • Hunter says:

        That’s good for the Rangers. How many fastballs did Price throw in the first few innings? I’m too lazy to look it up now, but it was crazy…something like above 85%.

        Go ahead and continue trying to blow perfectly placed fastballs by the Rangers. If you bring your A+ game, you’ll succeed. If you don’t, everyone from Vlad Guerrero to Jeff Francoeur will be licking their chops.

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      • tom says:

        From the few times I’ve seen him that seems to be his pattern (and a lot of pitcher’s pattern).

        The first time through the order they want to throw as many fastballs as possible so batters don’t see the full arsenal and they can change things up the 2nd and 3rd time through. That sounds nice…. but in a playoff game outs are at a premium (especially a game 5), and I’m not sure the value of potentially giving up a run or two early so you can save some of your pitches for late in the game.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      saberists would give their left nut, to quote Ted Williams, for Lee to beat Price. It could be catastrophic for FIP if such an over-rated pitcher outpitches the WAR leader.

      I’m surprised the analysis hasn’t been solely about how over-rated Price is and how Lee really is the best pitcher in baseball, as evident by his fWAR.

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  2. Javier Anderson says:

    Another big question will be which Rays and Rangers teams will show up to play today. Will it be the Rays whom lost the first two games when they didn’t score or capitalize on their base-runners? Will it be the Rangers who in the last two games were unable to convert on the first two games with timely hits and commanding pitching performances in the last two games? Will it be either the Rangers or the Rays whom will have the winning edge pitching-wise or will it be a tie? Will it come down to necessary hits, fast and compact base-running? or a little bit of both?

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    • phoenixnyy says:

      i appreciate the effort, but all those whoms are actually whos. Whom is only for an object, who is for the subject. So it’s who shows up. Cuz who is the one showing up, aka the subject.

      Anyways i wasnt aware of the innings bump for price. I noticed hughes for the yanks looked really tired down the stretch, and price looks the same. Id like to see some numbers on effectiveness after a pitcher has thrown say 30 or 40 more than the year before for the mlb and whether a long rest like the wait for the postseason helps.

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  3. Ian says:

    “They know each other pretty well by now, meaning few secrets remain. ”

    Glad you cleared that up for us.

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  4. george says:

    atupid history :)

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