Nick Nelson

The Week Ahead

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The Tampa Two

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Rays are off to a strong start in the AL East, and they're hoping to stay near the top of the standings on the shoulders of a rotation that includes two of the league's best young starters: 2011 Rookie of the Year winner Jeremy Hellickson and 2012 Rookie of the Year contender Matt Moore.

The 25-year-old Hellickson has picked up right where he left off after a sensational debut, winning three of his first four starts with a 2.84 ERA. His 14/12 K/BB ratio is a bit ugly, but that figures to improve going forward and Hellboy finished with a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP last year despite a decidedly ho-hum 117/72 K/BB ratio in 189 innings.

Moore, who made a name for himself last year with his dominant postseason performance as a 22-year-old, has gotten off to a bit of a rockier start in his first full big-league campaign. In his first three turns, the southpaw totaled more walks (12) than strikeouts (11) while stumbling to a 5.12 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. He showed signs of turning things around Thursday against the Angels, allowing just two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings while striking out six, but he remains winless and continues to struggle with high pitch counts.

Both young hurlers are scheduled to take the mound twice in the upcoming week, with match-ups at home against the Mariners and A's that portend plenty of success.

Going Twice…

American League

Strong Plays

Jeremy Hellickson: SEA (Hernandez), OAK (Colon)
Matt Moore: SEA (Noesi), OAK (Milone)
Felix Hernandez: @TB (Hellickson), MIN (Blackburn)
Hiroki Kuroda: BAL (Hammel), @KC (Hochevar)
C.J. Wilson: MIN (Hendriks), TOR (Drabek)
Chris Sale: CLE (Tomlin), @DET (Below)
Yu Darvish: @TOR (Drabek), @CLE (Tomlin)

Decent Plays

Kyle Drabek: TEX (Darvish), @LAA (Wilson)
Tommy Milone: @BOS (Buccholz), @TB (Moore)
Phil Hughes: BAL (Matusz), KC (Mendoza)
Liam Hendriks: @LAA (Wilson), @SEA (Noesi)
Jerome Williams: MIN (Liriano), TOR (Hutchison)
Duane Below: KC (Hochevar), CWS (Sale)
Jason Hammel: @NYY (Kuroda), @BOS (Buchholz)

At Your Own Risk

Drew Hutchison: TEX (Darvish), @LAA (Williams)
Hector Noesi: @TB (Moore), MIN (Hendriks)
Luke Hochevar: @DET (Below), NYY (Kuroda)
Luis Mendoza: @DET (Porcello), NYY (Hughes)
Josh Tomlin: @CWS (Sale), TEX (Darvish)
Clay Buchholz: OAK (Milone), BAL (Hammel)

National League

Strong Plays

Jordan Zimmermann: ARI (Cahill), PHI (Hamels)
Adam Wainwright: PIT (Morton), @HOU (Happ)
Matt Cain: MIA (Nolasco), MIL (Wolf)
Cole Hamels: @ATL (Beachy), @WAS (Zimmermann)
Vance Worley: CHC (Samardzija), @WAS (Gonzalez)
R.A. Dickey: @HOU (Happ), ARI (Cahill)
Mark Buehrle: ARI (Collmenter), @SD (Richard)
Brandon Beachy: PHI (Hamels), @COL (Nicasio)
Mike Minor: PIT (McDonald), @COL (Moyer)

Decent Plays

Joe Wieland: MIL (Wolf), MIA (Nolasco)
Charlie Morton: @STL (Wainwright), CIN (Arroyo)
James McDonald: @ATL (Minor), CIN (Latos)
Randy Wolf: @SD (Wieland), @SF (Cain)
Ricky Nolasco: @SF (Cain), @SD (Wieland)
Aaron Harang: @COL (Nicasio), @CHC (Volstad)
J.A. Happ: NYM (Dickey), STL (Wainwright)
Juan Nicasio: LAD (Harang), ATL (Beachy)
Bronson Arroyo: CHC (Volstad), @PIT (Morton)
Jeff Samardzija: @PHI (Worley), LAD (Capuano)
Trevor Cahill: @WAS (Zimmermann), @NYM (Dickey)

At Your Own Risk

Chris Volstad: @CIN (Arroyo), LAD (Harang)
Josh Collmenter: @MIA (Buehrle), @NYM (Santana)

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Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter at nnelson9.
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