ALDS Game Four Preview: Tampa Bay

Must-win game number two for Tampa Bay will feature Wade Davis as starting pitcher. Monday will be an off-day whether the series continues or not, meaning just about everyone on Tampa Bay’s staff shy of David Price (if he’s saved for a potential game five) and Matt Garza (who started Saturday’s game) would be available in relief work if Davis happens to stumble.

Davis’ likelihood to slip and slide may or may not be more unpredictable than other pitches, but it sure feels like it. From June until August, Davis’ xFIP finished in the 4.8s, yet his peripherals danced across the floor to a foreign pattern. One month, Davis would look like a pitcher with a flair for the three true outcomes. The next he would be a contact aficionado. Based on his six five, 220 pound frame and low-to-mid 90s heater (his adoration for which is no secret) one would think Davis is closer to the pitcher who will strike some out and walk some more, but in a perfect world he falls into his September numbers; where he compiled a 7.49 K/9 and 2.94 BB/9.

The only thing with more rate changes than his numbers is his favorability amongst the locals that stems from an improved ERA and win-loss record. In fact, since returning from the disabled list on August 5, Davis went 3-1 with a 3.76 ERA. A good chunk of that improvement can be attributed to only giving up five home runs in 50-plus innings. Consider that at one point, Davis gave up five home runs in an 11 innings span and `18 over his first 94 innings.

Has Davis improved in anything but luck? One would like to think so (and the numbers spell this out to some degree as well) but expect Joe Maddon to have his pen ready at a whim. After all, he pulled James Shields and Matt Garza well before either hit the 100-pitches mark, and neither were in games that could force a decisive game five.

As for the Rays’ lineup, the J-Walkers (John Jaso, Matt Joyce, and Dan Johnson) will be present along with one of yesterday’s stars, Carlos Pena. Tommy Hunter will be the opposition.

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6 Responses to “ALDS Game Four Preview: Tampa Bay”

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  1. YankeesJunkie says:

    Tampa needs to go with Price in this situation. They need to win this game and they need to throw out their best which is Price on three days rest. Then Shields or Garza can go on Tuesday in Tampa. Also this gives the Rays a chance to start Price in Game 1 on the ALCS if they do win. However, as a Yankee fan I am rooting hard for the Rays to push a Game 5 the way the rotations for both teams are set up now because Price or Lee won’t start till Game 2 (3 days rest) or Game 3 on Sunday.

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  2. Shauntell47 says:

    No reason to go with Price now.

    Yes, they need to win this game, but they also need to win the next game.

    Who has the best chance competing against Lee?
    It has to be Price.

    If Lee goes 7 or 8 strong again giving up 1 or 2 runs, Price is the only one capable of keeping the Rays in the game against the potent offense that the Rangers have.

    Davis has been superb & Hunter is probably the worst starter in this series….

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  3. chuckb says:

    I’m not a Tommy Hunter fan at all but on paper this looks like a pretty evenly matched pitching match up. If you look at the 2 pitchers’ FIP and xFIP, they’re nearly equal. Davis strikes out more but also walks more. Neither is particularly a ground ball pitcher and on a warm day in Arlington is prone to giving up the long ball. It’s certainly a big game for both teams as the Rays have to win and the Rangers don’t want to have to go back to Tampa for game 5. Winning today allows them to go with Lee in game 1 against the Yanks rather than game 3. Regardless, even the Tropicana Dome will be rocking for a game 5 after leaving it the way they did.

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  4. kc2mfc says:

    It would seem to me that for the Rays it’s all hand on deck (especially in the Bullpen). Now that they have the chance to put the series on their terms by winning both of their games on the road heading home for the tie-breaker, it would seem that Maddon would spare no expense to really nail in this win by any means necessary. Pitching wise the Rays should ask and get a performance much like all the other playoff starting pitchers (including their opponents) outings, fanning the hot Ranger bats to live another day. Offensively the Rays should look to copy the Rangers with runners in scoring position, power-hitting, quality outings by the usual suspects. I’m looking forward to a Game Five on Tuesday night should it happen.

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