The Rays (56-51) start their nine game home stand tonight, sending David Price to take on Ricky Romero and the Toronto Blue Jays (55-53). David Price (9-9, 3.76 ERA, 3.24 FIP) was in Cy Young consideration this time last year, but despite dropping out of the best-pitcher talk, Price has put up a solid 2011 season nonetheless. His old school statistics suggest he is merely above average, but his advanced stats describe a season just as good as that of Cy Young contender James Shields.
The Rays will need every bit of Price's punch tonight against the Blue Jay, who are starting lefty Ricky Romero (8-9, 3.08 ERA, 3.72 FIP) and a lineup 6th in home runs in the majors this year. Romero is coming off a gem of a game against the Baltimore Orioles in which he twirled 8 and 1/3 innings of shutout baseball.
Tampa Bay may choose to buck conventional wisdom load the lineup with lefties tonight against Romero. This year, Romero has struggled with the walk against lefties and utterly dominated righties. Look for a possible start for Sam Fuld, who has hit lefties and righties relatively equally throughout his career.
Over the last month, the Blue Jays have narrowed the gap between themselves and the Rays, looking for their first third-place finish since 2007. Hopefully the Rays can put some distance between themselves and the Jays starting tonight.