On Monday night, the Tampa Bay Rays host the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. David Price takes the hill for Tampa Bay, while the Rangers counter with Colby Lewis.
Price and Lewis matched up against each other already this season, with Lewis taking the victory despite a solid outing from Price. Both pitchers allowed just six baserunners in eight innings, yet the Rangers hung three earned runs on Price anyway. In the top of the eighth inning, Price retired the Rangers' first two hitters before falling apart. He yielded a double to Craig Gentry, the ninth man in the order, and then walked Ian Kinsler. A double-steal put men on second and third with two out, with Elvis Andrus driving in Gentry and Kinsler with a single through the right side of the infield to make the score 3-0, Texas, which would prove to be the final margin.
That game calls to mind Price's struggles against the Rangers throughout his career, a topic which Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation investigates in great detail. Interestingly, he finds, "Texas shouldn't look at Price and see a pitcher that they've owned in the past and will own again," citing Price's improved strikeout-to-walk ratio. The upshot:
If you go by the advanced stats -- FIP and xFIP -- David Price has substantially improved since 2010. The results just haven't been there. That's similar to his history with the Rangers -- he's pitched increasingly better against them, but it's hard to tell by his W/L and ERA against them.
In Lewis, the Rays face the owner of one of baseball's best sliders, according to DRaysBay. The bad news is that Lewis' slider is the fourth-best in the American League over the last two seasons; the good news is that his other pitches are far less effective, making him a one-trick pony. Given that Lewis' command tends to improve as the game progresses, DRaysBay stresses the importance of Tampa's scoring early. Further, the left-handed-hitting Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist need to tee off against Lewis, whose reliance on the slider makes him dramatically less effective against left-handers.
Game 3 between the Rays and Rangers is set for Monday at 5:07.