Washington Nationals vs. Tampa Bay Rays Series Preview (6/15-6/18)

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Jun 4, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) smacks his glove after leaving the game in the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Gio Gonzalez (4-3, 4.42 ERA) vs. Erasmo Ramirez (5-2, 4.96) – 7:10 PM ET, MASN2

Ramirez was one of the pitchers who was acquired by Tampa Bay before the season began The 25-year-old right-hander was traded from the Mariners to the Rays in exchange for pitching prospect Mike Montgomery. Coming into this season, he had seven wins from 2012-2014 in 47 games (35 starters). This season, due to injuries, Ramirez is a part of the rotation.

Since joining the rotation on May 14, Ramirez is 5-2 with a 4.43 ERA in eight starts. He has a 2.61 ERA in June and has given up just three runs in his last 17.1 innings of work. He won’t overpower hitters with his fastball (averages 90 miles per hour according to Fangraphs), but he is a four-pitch pitcher and has a slider, changeup, and breaking ball in addition to that heater.

The only hitter in the Nationals hitter that has any experience against him is former Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar. Escobar is 4-for-7 against the right-hander with a RBI.

As for Gio Gonzalez, the lefty is coming off one of his best starts of the season last Wednesday against the New York Yankees. While he is still having issues with his command, he did hold the Yankees to two runs on four hits over 6.1 innings. Gonzalez had 11 groundball outs in that game, which is impressive when you consider it was at a hitter’s park at Yankee Stadium.

While Gonzalez has given up two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts, he has walked seven batters in his last two games. That being said, he does have five or more strikeouts in four consecutive outings. His only game against the Rays was back in June of 2012 when he gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings to pick up the victory.

There is only one player on the Rays with a home run against Gonzalez. That is left fielder David DeJesus, He is 2-for-8 with a solo home run against him.

Advantage: While Gonzalez has been pitching better as of late, the advantage here goes to Ramirez. The Rays have won five of his six starts this season. Plus, even though Ramirez averages just 78 pitches per outing this year, Tampa’s bullpen, which is one of the best in the AL, gives them the edge in this game.

Next: Tomorrow's Matchups