After shellacking the Twins in the first game of today's doubleheader, the Tampa Bay Rays send Jeff Niemann to the mound against Anthony Swarzak. The game is scheduled for 8:10 PM.
Jeff Niemann (7.08 ERA, 5.30 FIP) has struggled with his mechanics so far this season, negatively affecting his command. He's having trouble hitting his spots and keeping pitches low in the zone, so batters have been able to tee up on many of his misplaced balls. As a result, Niemann is sporting a .348 BABIP and a very high ERA, and the Rays may decide to play him on the disabled list if his issues do not improve.
Due to the doubleheader, the Twins called up Anthony Swarzak from Triple-A yesterday. Swarzak is a young pitcher (24 years old), but he's struggled over the past two years in Triple-A. He is not a high strikeout pitcher (career 5 K/9 in Triple-A), so he relies on limiting walks (2.5 BB/9) and pitching to contact. He got a shot in the majors last season with the Twins, posting a 6.25 ERA and 5.71 FIP in 12 starts. He does not look like he should be a challenging pitcher for the Rays' offense, but then again, the Rays can decide to struggle against the strangest pitchers.
A win tonight would put the Rays three games above .500, the first time this season they've had a record that high. Also, it would improve Joe Maddon's managerial record with the Rays to one game above .500. Maddon hit .500 last season on September 3rd, but the Rays' late season slump caused him to finish the year slightly under. With the Rays' win earlier today, he brought his record with the Rays up to 417-417.