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Tampa Bay Rays Vs. New York Yankees: Garcia And Hellickson

The Tampa Bay Rays (49-39) continue their four-game set against the New York Yankees (51-35) today, sending rookie Jeremy "Hellboy" Hellickson to the mound. Hellickson (8-7, 3.21 ERA, 4.30 FIP) comes into the game having pitched four straight quality starts, going 7 1/3 innings against St. Louis last Sunday.

Although his ERA has been no doubt impressive, advanced statistics like left on base percentage (LOB%) and expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP) suggest he has been lucky this year. Right now Hellboy has the second lowest ERA on the team, but that may not continue if his luck normalizes soon.

The Yankees have their own lucky starter in Freddy Garcia (7-6, 3.13 ERA, 3.96 FIP). Garcia appears to have revived his former elite levels in New York, but -- just as with Hellickson -- advanced stats suggest otherwise. The Yankees starter enters the game having pitched five consecutive quality starts, but has not allowed a home run in that stretch. For his career (and even during his peak years with the Mariners and White Sox), Garcia has allowed 1 homer every 9 innings, but has allowed 0 in his last 34 2/3.

The Rays are hoping to help normalize that number for Garcia tonight.

AL East Standings

Boston 52 35 .597 0 Won 3
New York 51 35 .593 0.5 Lost 2
Tampa Bay 49 39 .556 3.5 Won 2
Toronto 42 47 .471 11 Lost 3
Baltimore 36 49 .423 15 Lost 4

(updated 7.8.2011 at 10:19 AM EDT)

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