The Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. Maybe the Devil was bad luck? Doesn’t bode well for my New Jersey Devils, but thats still a week away, so lets discuss some October baseball.
The Rays, 61-101 just a year ago, now 97-65. I’ll be honest, as a Yankee fan I am used to playing the Rays, I’ve seen them a lot, and I knew they were getting better. But i never expected them to go from worst to first. I don’t feel like looking it up, but last year the Rays always played the Yankees well. I was used to writing off any came against Tampa Bay but last year is when i started to notice some talent. I won’t say I expected them to win the division this year, i wont even say that i expected them to make the playoffs, but i did expect them to finish in front of the Orioles and Blue Jays. Just not the Yankees and Red Sox as well.
Lets take a quick look at this team:
- James Shields
- Scott Kazmir
- Matt Garza
- Andy Sonnanstine
- Edwin Jackson (not part of ALDS rotation, but huge part of getting there)
The four ALDS starters combined this year for a 50-34 record. James Shields will be starting game 1, who is 14-8 with a 3.56. Scott Kazmir has been the best part of the Rays organization for a number of years now, he finally has some support. Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine are pretty much guaranteed to give you a solid outing every time out there. But even when the pitching isn’t there, this team has the hitting to back it up.
Catcher: Dioner Navaro
–> Solid numbers for a catcher, .295 average, solid defensive work.
First Base: Carlos Pena
–> Great power numbers, ok defensive first basemen. Only hit .231 this year, but went yard 31 times. 100+ Rbi’s.
Second Base: Akinori Iwamura
–> He’s no Chase Utley, but he’s a solid second basemen. Plays very well in the field. Hit .275 this year, has speed, seems to get timely hits, always a threat.
Short Stop: Jason Bartlett
–> .286 hitter, 20 stolen bases. Nothing flashy but a solid player.
Third Base: Evan Longoria
–> Evan Longoria is amazing. I have no other words. Should easily win rookie of the year. Hit .272, 28 homeruns, .531 slugging percentage, always seems to get the big hit, just a great all around player. Oh, and 7-0 in steal attempts, look out.
Center Field: BJ Upton
–> Watching Upton play last year, you had to know it was only a matter of time before he would be on a playoff team. He has it all speed, power, athleticism, great eye. 44-16 in steal attempts.
Left Field: Carl Crawford/Eric Hinske
–> What one doesn’t have the other does. Carl Crawford has the speed, Eric Hinske has the power. Can’t really go wrong with either of these two. Crawford hit .273 in injury limited action this year, while Hinske hit .247 with 20 HR’s.
Right Field: Gabe Gross/Eric Hinske
–> Nothing special goin’ on with Gabe Gross, look for Hinske to be out there.
Designated Hitter: Cliff Floyd
–> The fact of the matter is the man can still hit the ball, and can hit it well.
–> I dont care enough about the bullpen to go into depth about them but they are very good. The set up men are all rockin pretty solid ERA’s. Troy Percival when healthy is a very solid closer.
Game one: James Shields vs. Javier Vazquez.
–> Hard to bet against James Shields here. The man is a beast. Javier Vazquez less than mediocre 12-16 record and 4.67 ERA will hardly scare this tough Rays lineup who are hungry to play their first playoff game in franchise history.
Game two: Scott Kazmir vs. TBD (Buerhle?)
–> I’m a firm believer that no matter who the White Sox throw out in game two it won’t matter. Kazmir is going to shut them down. Kazmir has been the back bone of this organization for years and is going to do whatever he can to make sure the Rays advance to the next round.
Game Three: Matt Garza vs. TBD (Danks)
–> Hard to say without a matchup. Matt Garza is pretty hit or miss. Danks pretty much told me to STFU last night, so IDK w/e ttyl.
Rays in 4.
Other Series Predictions:
Phillies in 5 (too bad Milwaukee can’t send CC to the hill every day)
Red Sox in 5 (I hate them, but i think they’re better than the Angels)
Cubs in 4 (The Dodgers will be lucky to win one)
I’m out, enjoy day one.