Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Start or Sit: Jeff Niemann at Angels

Jeff Niemann vs Angels
In 2 career starts against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Tampa Bay right-hander Jeff Neimann has not fared well, losing both of the 2009 home and away games in his first year in the major league.

On 6/10/09, after dominating the Kansas City Royals for 9 full innings in a 2 hits, 1 walk, and 9 strikeout gem on 100 pitches, Niemann only lasted 3 2/3 frames as the Halos got to him early in Tampa Bay, to a tune of 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, and 3 K.

In his away start against the Angels on 8/12/09, Niemann pitched better, but not quite well enough and was pulled after logging 5 1/3 innings, as the Angels were once again able to produce, putting up 4 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, while striking out 4 times.

Jeff Niemann vs Angels Batters
Despite the fact that some of the damage during the two 2009 starts against the Angels were done by former-Halos (Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero, and Gary Matthews Jr.), the current regular bats of Anaheim, except for Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and Kendry Morales hit at least .333 or better for a collective BA of .300 in 30 plate appearances.

Trends and Injuries
Niemann has made 5 consecutive quality starts after his injury shortened season debut, with his latest accomplishment being the win at Seattle where he not only dominated the Mariners, but also overcame a near-epic proportion meltdown in which he threw 11 consecutive balls to walk the bases loaded.

The Angels have won 3 of the last 4 games after a 7-game slide, posting an 11-inning victory on a Juan Rivera sacrifice fly against the Rays last night.

Napoli blasted his 2nd home run of the season, going deep twice in the last 4 games, showing signs of life after a personal late spring training - all thanks to Mike Scioscia's mancrush on Jeff Mathis - but the rest of the Angels are batting a pultry .199 in the last 7 games as a group.

Opposing Pitcher
Scott Kazmir faces his former team for the first time with perhaps something to prove, having started this season off to a 7.11 ERA and just one quality starts in 5 attempts. Of the handful of Tampa Bay regulars Kazmir has faced, only Justin Bartlett has an average of over .111, as Gabe Kapler and Carlos Pena have gone a combined 1 for 12.

Kazmir won both of his 2 home starts in 2010, holding the opponents to a .220 BAA and 1.18 WHIP, but the 2 HR in 11 IP were opportune shots yielding 6 ER.

The Call: Sit
I'm going with the wait-and-see approach on this one, being cautious with the trigger on Jeff Niemann's road start against the Angels. In a small sample of 2 games, half the Halos lineup have hit Niemann pretty well and Scioscia will surely try to pull all sorts of small-ball stunts to disrupt the rhythm of Niemann. Prediction: ND, 6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 7 K.

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