1. Tillman gets Evan Longoria out.
Last season on Opening Day, Chris Tillman lasted only five innings and threw 104 pitches. Tillman is a deserving Opening Day starter, but asking your bullpen to go four innings on Opening Day is never desirable. It’s not that Tillman pitched poorly on Opening Day last season, but he was not as effective as he could be. He threw a lot of strikes — 71 to be exact — but showed an inability to finish off hitters.
Tillman went 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three starts against the Rays last season. The 2015 iteration of the Rays lineup will have even less punch, but one Rays player has given Tillman fits throughout his career. Longoria sports a .394 career average against Tillman with five big flies in only 33 at-bats. Outside of Asdrubal Cabrera, who only has nine career at-bats against Tillman, no Rays player has a batting average higher than .250 against Tillman.
The Rays lineup is weak enough that Tillman should be able to pitch around Longoria. If he manages to blank Longoria, the rest of the Rays lineup should be easily neutralized.