Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday: Francisco Liriano v Robbie Ray; Lineup, Notes

Today: The Bucs close it out in Arizona at 4:10 in the decisive game of the series. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Frankie Liriano (1-1, 4.11) meets Robbie Ray (1-0, 1.96). With Francisco, it's a matter of command. He's been walking a man per inning and running up his pitch count; he hasn't made it into the sixth in his last two starts. Liriano was 1-0/3.38 against the D-Backs in two starts last year, holding them to a .178 BA but issuing nine walks in 13 IP. He's pitched well at Chase Field, where he owns a 1.96 ERA in three starts.

Batters are waiting Frankie out (just a 38% swing rate, compared to 45% last year), and with good reason. He has a 19% walk rate, and that's largely because his first strike rate is down to 49% this year; it was 58% in 2015.  Instead of Liriano getting guys in the hole and putting his swing-and-miss slider in play, he's the one working behind. Easy enough cure - throw a dang strike to start these guys off.

Ray, who won the Snakes fifth spot in camp, tossed six shutout innings in his last start against the Giants. The southpaw is 0-2/5.73 in two starts against the Pirates.

Frankie's been taking a walk on the wild side this year (photo USA Today)

Lineup: Jordy Mercer SS, Cutch CF, David Freese 3B, Starling Marte LF, Jason Rogers 1B, S-Rod 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, Stew C, Liriano P. These lefty lineups are always interesting. Fran and Josh are getting maintenance days, and Rogers gets another call at first (though hitless in his first start, he did make solid contact and drew a walk). We also like that El Coffee is getting thrown into the fire; the Bucs didn't sign him to be a platoon guy.

  • Frankie has been on fire with his stick. He's 4 for 6 with three RBIs at the plate this season and hitting .361 with a home run and 10 RBIs over his past 16 starts.
  • The D-Backs are in a hot stretch. They've won 6-of-7 thanks to some strong mound work; in the past five games, Arizona starters have pitched to a 2.70 ERA.
  • Old Buccos - Charlie Morton landed on the DL with a bad hammy , while Neil Walker hit his seventh HR and has bumped his BA up to .288, with a -0.3 defensive WAR.

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