Question: What do you get when you face off two pitchers in the top 10 in the American League in FIP off against two offenses which rank in the bottom 4 in OBP in a very pitcher-friendly park?
Answer: Check back with me in the middle of the night.
The two pitchers are of course the Rays’ James Shields and the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez. The park is Safeco. The offenses are… bad.
As a team the Marniers are in last place in nearly every offensive category in the American League. The Rays, while not as bad as the Mariners, are having some big-league issues of their own. The Rays have lost 8 of their past 12 games, and while there has been a stinker or two thrown by the Rays’ pitchers, much of the blame is laid at the feet of the men holding the bats.
Their task isn’t exactly easy tonight, either, as they face the reigning American League Cy Young winner who is sporting a nifty 3.19 ERA and even niftier 2.78 FIP. The good news is that the man who is pitching like the Rays’ second ace is toeing the rubber for Tampa Bay.
James Shields is 5-3 this season and has an ERA just a tick over 2 (2.15). This is a matchup which all involved should expect to be a pitcher’s duel, and the Rays need Shields to be at his very best to have a chance to beat the Mariners. Grab a cup of coffee if you’re going to be staying up for this one, though, as the west-coast game time is 10:10 E.T.