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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 7:00 PM

We’ve had our eyes on this week’s Interleague smorgasbord for a few weeks…because we always plan ahead here in the NOTEBOOK! But, we have to admit that we’re a bit surprised that midweek action saw the Tampa Bay Rays in first place in the A.L. East, and the New York Mets in first place in the NL East.

The Rays had an unimpressive start to the season…and didn’t seem well-positioned at all to get hot. Even though the Toronto Blue Jays have been making headlines for their recent hot streak, the resurgent Rays were sitting on top of their division entering Tuesday action. New York had fallen behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East, one of three market favorites to coast to divisional titles in the senior circuit (along with St. Louis and the Los Angeles Dodgers). Now, the Mets are back on top…and Interleague play is suddenly HIGHLIGHTED by matchups like:

Tampa Bay at Washington (on ESPN2)

NY Mets at Toronto

We’re going to take a closer look at that Rays/Nationals showdown that will be nationally televised. Tampa Bay is a team we haven’t talked about at all this year in a series or game preview. Let’s run through JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats and see if we can figure out what’s been working for them…



Tampa Bay: 3.72 runs per game, .308 on-base, .380 slugging

Washington: 4.27 runs per game, .318 on-base, .400 slugging

Well, it sure isn’t offense that’s keying Tampa Bay’s success this year. They’ve been HORRIBLE with the bats. Don’t forget that they play in the American League with the Designated Hitter. Washington must use a pitcher in their lineup except in road games vs. the AL. Washington is way ahead of Tampa Bay anyway! Washington is still a favorite to go deep in October even though they’ve fallen behind the Mets for now…because they have an offense and pitching. Tampa Bay must be using some mirrors. Stunning to see an NL offense dominate an AL offense by that much.



Matt Andriese: 3.76 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 6.2 K-Rate, 4.1 IP-per-Start

Jordan Zimmerman: 3.74 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 6.0 K-Rate 5.9 IP-per-Start

Not an ideal night to figure out what’s been going on with the Rays! Andriese has only made four starts this season in emergency situations. He’s largely been ineffective since he’s averaging well below five innings per start! The ERA is okay…but that WHIP is going to be a problem vs. good offenses. He could be in serious trouble here. Zimmerman of Washington just had two lousy outings after a string of quality starts. Tampa Bay has to hope he’s still struggling, which would position them to compete in what might be an “Over” game. If “typical” Zimmerman shows up, big edge to the hosts because of their offensive edge.

So, what’s the Tampa Bay story? Let’s look at their normal rotation…

Chris Archer…2.00 ERA, 0.94 WHIP

Jake Odorizzi…2.47 ERA, 1.02 WHIP (currently on 15-day Disabled List)

Nate Karns…3.67 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

Alex Colome…4.21 ERA, 1.40 WHIP

Erasmo Ramirez: 4.45 ERA, 1.23 WHIP (9 starts and 7 relief appearances)

That’s basically two aces, a decent #3, and no disasters at the back end even though Colome and Ramirez aren’t exactly sparkling. In a time of parity, that’s just enough to push the Rays to the head of the pack in their division. They aren’t enjoying extraordinary luck in one-run or extra-inning games. So far they’ve been grinding at a time when grinding works. Losing Odorizzi takes away whatever margin for error they had though.

The good news is that there’s plenty of room to get better on offense! That rotation would really scare the league if Tampa Bay was scoring runs in convincing fashion.

JIM HURLEY will definitely take a close look at this TV game. But, he’s also on top of Texas/LA Dodgers, St. Louis/Minnesota, NY Mets/Toronto, and the rest of this week’s entertaining IL slate. You can purchase the final word for Wednesday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.

Back to the baskets tomorrow as our NBA Finals coverage continues. A great mix of basketball and baseball coming up over the next several days here in the NOTEBOOK…

More baseball previews coming up this week…

Friday: MLB Series Preview…San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers (as long as there’s not a Game Seven in the NBA Finals).

Saturday: MLB TV Preview…Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees on FOX

Sunday: MLB Notes

Monday: MLB Series Preview…Los Angeles Dodgers at the Chicago Cubs

Tuesday: MLB Series Preview….San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants

Wednesday MLB Big Game Preview…to be determined

Thursday: MLB Series Preview…New York Yankees at Houston Astros

It’s time to focus on BASEBALL as a bankroll builder for the fast approaching 2015 football season. The busy diamond schedule lets you win SEVEN DAYS A WEEK! Be sure you hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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