Alright kids, today starts a three game set in the home of the Bad Brains, Washington DC. This should be a fun series, with the best pitching staff in baseball taking on the fifth best pitching staff in baseball. The Rays and the Nationals, pitching-wise at least, are fairly close to one another. Hitting-wise, it’s a different story. From the point of view of those of us that love good pitching duels, the next three games shall be exciting. Let’s look at a few things to see how the Rays and Nats match up.
With the help of Numbers (thanks Steve Jobs), I made a couple of charts comparing the Rays and the Nats in situational hitting, overall pitching, and pitching with two outs scenarios. Why situational hitting and pitching with two outs? The Rays got rocked by the Mets with two outs last week, and I felt that it couldn’t hurt to see if they could stave off another plundering.
A few things jump out. Even when plagued with injuries, Tampa Bay is a more productive team. With concerns to runs scored, Washington is the 13th most productive team in the NL and 27th overall, where as the Rays are the ninth best team in the AL and 18th overall. However, both teams are relatively close when they have men in scoring position.
The Nats have given up 52 less runs than the Rays, 36 of those runs being earned. It’s pretty crazy to think that only 19 of the 214 runs the Nats have given up have been unearned, yet 35 of the Rays 266 runs given up have been unearned. But, when you look at the “E” column, why that may be is glaring: the Nats have committed 19 fewer errors than the Rays.
Also, take a peep at how the Nats and Rays stack up in two out situations. Washington has a lower ERA, they’ve given up less runs (earned or otherwise), they’ve walked fewer hitters, have struck out more hitters, and have a lower batting average against (BAA) at a paltry .157. The equalizer is clearly the Nats pitchers ability to perform in high leverage situations. Onward to tonight’s game.
Chien-Ming Wang (2-2, 4.67) takes the mound tonight against David Price (8-4, 3.01 ERA) and the Rays. Tampa Bay does have a history against Wang, dinging him up good in a 15-5 loss while he was with the Yankees in 2009. BJ Upton, Carlos Pena, and Ben Zobrist are hitting a combined .297 against Wang, including a homer and five walks. Wang has also been touched up in his four big league starts this season, giving up 22 hits, nine runs (all earned) three home runs, while walking 11, hitting three, and striking out 10.
Price, on the other hand, is coming off two short five inning starts against the Yankees and the Mets. He gave up seven earned runs in what could arguably be considered as his worst start of this season, on the 13th. Price has been dominant against a gaggle of Nationals hitters in the past, with them hitting .200. Price also has a 2.67 K/BB against those batters. And, with the exception of two consecutive losses to the Red Sox and Braves, where Price pitched very well mind you, he hasn’t lost two games in a row. So here’s to hope he can do to the Nats what the Nats have been doing to their opponents all year.
Rays 6/19/12 Starting Lineup:
Enjoy a live version of the Bad Brains hit Banned in DC, from 1982.