Thursday, November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Less dominant Arrieta vs Hill as NLCS shifts to Los Angeles

RECOMMENDED READING


LOS ANGELES — Back in spring training, Joe Maddon cornered Jake Arrieta for a frank conversation about his workload during the upcoming season.

Maddon knew Arrieta would be upset any time he got lifted early, especially after tossing 229 innings for the Chicago Cubs on his way to winning the NL Cy Young Award in 2015.

"But understand it's going to pay off in the latter part of the season," Maddon counseled his ace. "Our intention is to play deeply into October and possibly November this year."

Maddon knew Arrieta might just feel invincible after shouldering the burden of huge innings while compiling a 1.77 ERA. He didn't want the right-hander thinking he could pitch that much every year.

Arrieta bought into Maddon's plan, and it has gotten him to the NL Championship Series with 1971/3 innings and a 3.10 ERA.

"I'm in a much better place," Arrieta said Monday before the Cubs worked out. "Going through that last year has prepared myself as well as the rest of the guys mentally for a longer run this year, and we've been able to handle the moments mentally a lot better as well as physically."

With the series tied at 1, Arrieta starts for the Cubs against Los Angeles' Rich Hill tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Arrieta threw his first career no-hitter in the venerable ballpark on Aug. 30 last year in a game that began shortly after 5 p.m., the same starting time as Game 3. Shadows can creep between the mound and home plate at that hour, which Arrieta believes favors the pitchers.

"I really think it can be difficult to pick up spin," he said. "From a pitching perspective, you want to be aggressive early because of the fact that it is a little more difficult to pick up some rotations and spin on pitches when the shadow's kind of in between and then it starts to creep out to the mound."

In his no-hitter last year, a 2-0 victory, Arrieta struck out 12 and allowed two baserunners — one on an error and the other via walk.

"It's going to be a little different feel, but at the same time, for the most part, it's just about the same lineup," he said. "You try to tackle them accordingly. Use some knowledge that I have from the past to kind of help me tomorrow. But it's just another game on a big stage."

The mound is a place Arrieta feels comfortable. He complemented the Dodgers ground crew for creating a consistent surface that gives him confidence in his positioning and footing.

"When you've been in these situations before, it makes it a lot easier just to kind of take that deep breath, focus on your execution and go from there," he said.

Hill follows Clayton Kershaw as the second straight left-hander to start for the Dodgers in the NLCS, and he draws inspiration from the three-time Cy Young Award winner.

"He's got the stuff, right? You can't argue that," Hill said. "But then there's another level of that competitiveness that comes out where if you're on the other side and you're down on one knee, he's going to put you away. That's something that when I see that, you just never quit, you never give up, you continue to attack."

Hill had a 2.12 ERA during the regular season allowed a combined five runs in seven innings starting Game 2 of the NL Division Series against Washington and returning on short rest in the decisive Game 5.

Now, Hill returns on regular rest and manager Dave Roberts said the finger blisters that have bothered the left-hander this season are not an issue.

"With Richie, it's an inning-by-inning thing, so we'll just keep our fingers crossed," Roberts said. "Because all things being equal, the blister holds, I really, really like our chances."

Hill hasn't thrown more than 93 pitches since being acquired from Oakland in August. The blisters have affected how often he starts and how long he pitches.

The Dodgers will have to find a way to beat the Cubs without Kershaw, who has worked overtime in these playoffs and isn't expected to be available for the next three games in Los Angeles.

Roberts confirmed rookie Julio Urias is set to start Game 4 on Wednesday, followed by Japanese rookie Kenta Maeda, who has allowed seven runs over seven innings in two postseason appearances.

Comments
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macy’s parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.’’It’s a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

When the Rays acquired INF Matt Duffy from the Giants during the 2016 season, we also heard about the giant and somewhat famous cat he had, an up-to-27-pounder named Skeeter.Duffy announced over the weekend on Instagram that the family had to have Sk...
Published: 11/21/17
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE, 8:11: RHP Jose Mujica was an additional addition to the roster, beyond the six previously reported. Mujica, 21, was 14-8, 3.04 ERA in 27 starts between Class-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery.So among those left unprotected and potentially ...
Published: 11/20/17
Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Aubrey Huff isn't going to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.But at least the former Devil Rays standout has the satisfaction of making the cut to get onto the ballot, one of 19 first-timers up for election this year.Other newcomers with Rays ties are O...
Published: 11/20/17
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Published: 11/18/17
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17