Rays-Angels Preview

With Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, the Los Angeles Angels

already had an impressive front end of the rotation. The addition

of Zack Greinke could make them one of the best in the majors.

Greinke is scheduled to make his Angels debut Sunday when they

close their series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Los Angeles (55-46) acquired Greinke, arguably the most coveted

arm on the trade market, from Milwaukee on Friday in exchange for

rookie shortstop Jean Segura and Double-A right-handers Ariel Pena

and Johnny Hellweg.

Greinke joins a rotation led by Weaver, who is 13-1 with an

AL-leading 2.26 ERA, and Wilson, who was outdueled by Matt Moore in

a 3-0 loss to the Rays on Saturday but is still among the top

pitchers in the AL with a 2.88 ERA.

“He wants to win, and he’s proven that over the course of his

career,” Weaver said of Greinke. “He brings a winning mentality.

He’s got electric stuff and he’s fun to watch, so I’m looking

forward to what he brings to the table. I think he can help out, no

doubt about it.”

The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner with Kansas City, Greinke was

9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts with the Brewers. In his last

start, he gave up one run and three hits in seven innings of a 7-6

win against Philadelphia on Tuesday, but didn’t factor in the

decision.

The right-hander will see if his success at home extends to a

third city. He has won 19 straight decisions at home dating back to

2010 with Kansas City.

Greinke is 2-4 with a 3.32 ERA versus the Rays, posting a 1.64

ERA in his last three meetings. He’ll have Chris Iannetta behind

the plate after the Angels catcher was activated off the disabled

list Saturday following wrist surgery in May.

The Angels hope the addition of Greinke can help them close the

gap in the AL West. Saturday’s loss dropped them into third place

behind Texas and red-hot Oakland. They are four games behind the

first-place Rangers and have a two-game lead on the second wild

card.

Greinke will likely need to be sharp with Jeremy Hellickson

(5-6, 3.42) on the mound for Tampa Bay (52-49).

Although Hellickson is 1-6 in his last 10 starts, he has allowed

three runs or fewer eight times during that span. He earned his

first win in over two months Tuesday at Baltimore, yielding a homer

and two other hits over 6 1-3 innings of a 3-1 victory.

The right-hander surrendered a solo homer to Vernon Wells in six

innings of a 3-2 win over Los Angeles on April 25.

Rays manager Joe Maddon has total confidence in his pitcher even

matched up against Greinke.

“Jeremy Hellickson, to me, is one of the better young pitchers

in the game also,” Maddon told the Rays’ official website. “He has

not won a Cy Young yet, but I’ll take Helly. And my point is do not

underestimate what we have either.”

Tampa Bay pitchers have compiled a 1.93 ERA in the last nine

games, but the offense has averaged 3.4 runs and batted .223 in

that stretch.