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Andy Sonnanstine, Rays Try To Avoid Losing Series To Orioles

Well, this is certainly not ideal. The Rays and Orioles split the first two games of this weekend series at the Trop, so the Rays need a win today to avoid losing a home series against the last-place O's. To make matters more difficult, the Rays have Andy Sonnanstine starting for them, and must beat young right-hander Jake Arrieta.

Andy Sonnanstine (2.87 ERA, 6.13 FIP) has long been the Ray long reliever in the bullpen, and he's stepped into their rotation in the wake of Jeff Niemann's injury. While Sonnanstine used to be an above-average starting pitcher, winning 13 games for the Rays in 2008 while posting a 3.91 FIP, he's changed his approach over the last couple years. He's long been a junkball pitcher, relying on mixing pitches and pinpoint control in order to succeed, but his control has gotten worse as he's relied more and more on his cutter in recent years. In his first start filling in for Niemann, Sonny only lasted 3.1 innings while allowing five walks and four hits. Somehow only two runs scored against him, but he can't continue to get that lucky; he'll need to be much better today if he doesn't want to get demoted to the minors in favor of prospect Alex Cobb.

To make matters worse, the Rays shouldn't count on much offense today; Jake Arrieta (4.17 ERA, 4.13 FIP) is a young starter for the Orioles that has begun to take some large steps forward. He's increased his strikeouts so far this year and reduced his walks, finally beginning to live up to the potential he showed in the minor leagues.

Offense could be tough to come by for the Rays today, so they'll need Sonnanstine to be on top of his game. The game is scheduled for 1:40 PM.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.