With the trade deadline crashed down last night and both these playoff-hopeful clubs having made moves, the three-game series will go a long way toward telling us just how improved the various trades have made them.
Game 1 Starters – Chris Archer (RHP) vs Mike Fiers (RHP)
Archer is Tampa Bay’s ace, though sometimes he doesn’t look like it. His 7-6 record and 3.80 ERA are not particularly ace-like, however his 3.09 FIP and 11.2 K/9 certainly do.
Archer is often decried as just a fastball-slider pitcher, but it’s a hell of combination. Archer has 132 strikeouts this year on his slider to just 17 walks while his fastball has topped out at 98.9 mph and averages 95.4.
He’s only had two really poor starts this year, the rest of the time he has been a consistent performer, posting 10 starts with two or fewer earned runs against and seven that included 10+ strikeouts.
Mike Fiers is the opposite of Archer. While he is looking to be back to his best on the surface, with a 7-5 record and 3.71 ERA, his peripherals are not good. A 4.99 FIP and 3.3 BB/9 rate show his struggles at times. Still, he more often than not gets the run support to cover for his mistakes.
|Rays Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
|Souza Jr, RF||22||.269||.372|
|Astros Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
Who’s hot, and who’s not
The Rays have been blasting long balls in the last few weeks, with Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr hitting four in the last two weeks, Evan Longoria hitting three, and Lucas Duda adding three since he arrived via trade from the Mets. Average and everything else be damned.
I say that because they don’t have a single player hitting over .300 for the past 15 days, and have five hitting under .220.
Jose Altuve has perhaps been the hottest sportsperson on the planet over the last month after hitting an insane .485 in July. There has been reasonable power around the lineup, with Evan Gattis, Alex Bregman, and Jake Marisnick hitting three homers in the last two weeks, and Brian McCann, Marwin Gonzalez, and Yuli Gurriel chipping in with two. Still, the losses of George Springer and Carlos Correa have told on the lineup as a whole.
Prediction: Rays 4 – 5 Astros
It’s tough to pick against the Astros despite Tampa’s advantage on the mound. That advantage isn’t quite as big as you might think either, given the Fiers’ ability to spin a gem from time to time. While Houston’s offense is less consistent without two of their stars, I think they will have enough to get past Archer tonight and show the Rays they are still off the pace.
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