What we're watching: Red Sox aim for sweep

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– After one minor league start, Vicente Padilla makes his Dodger debut tonight in Colorado. The 31-year-old right-hander went 8-6 with a 4.92 ERA for the Rangers before being released early this month. He’ll be facing off against the surging Jorge De La Rosa, who has gone 10-1 in his last 12 starts. De La Rosa, though, is 0-4 with a 7.89 ERA lifetime versus the Dodgers. He’s allowed seven runs in 8 2/3 innings in his two starts against the club this year. The Dodgers bounced back from a tough loss Tuesday to win 6-1 last night and push their NL West lead back to three games.
– The Braves will turn to Javier Vazquez as they attempt to bounce back from a pair of disastrous home losses to the Padres. Vazquez has been an exceptional fantasy starter all year with his 3.14 ERA and 186 strikeouts, but as is his reputation, he often pitches just well enough to lose. He’s dropped his last two starts to fall to 10-9. The Padres will start Clayton Richard, who is 3-0 with a 3.67 ERA in five starts since coming over in the Jake Peavy deal.
Game of the Night
Chicago vs. Boston – The Red Sox go for a four-game sweep of the White Sox behind Junichi Tazawa, who shut out the Yankees for six innings last time out. Tazawa has a nice 3.57 ERA despite giving up 26 hits and seven walks in 17 2/3 innings since his callup this month. The White Sox will use John Danks, who has been the team’s most reliable pitcher lately. He’s 7-3 with a 2.99 ERA in his last 13 starts. However, he has lost all three of his career starts against the Red Sox, racking up a 6.06 ERA in the process. With four losses in a row, the White Sox have fallen into a tie with the Twins for second place in the AL Central, 4 1/2 games back for the Tigers.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.