After another disappointing loss to Los Angeles on Saturday, in what has become a challenging homestand, the Tampa Bay Rays look to split the series with the Angels this afternoon. The Rays enter play at 42-28 — a half-game behind New York in the AL East after Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Angels.
In each of the first three games this series, Tampa Bay has had to play catch-up after falling behind by four runs or more in the early innings. The Rays are 33-10 when they strike first, yet just 9-18 when the opposing team pulls ahead first.
Yandy Diaz accounted for all of the Rays offense on Saturday, hitting a three-run, sixth inning home run to left field.
After leaning on traditional starters the first three games of the series, the opener/bulk guy strategy will be employed this afternoon as the Rays attempt to do what Ryan Yarbrough, Blake Snell, and Charlie Morton could not: Slow the Angels down early.
The New What Next
The tandem of Ryne Stanek (0-1, 2.54 ERA) and Jalen Beeks (5-0, 2.55 ERA) will take the mound this afternoon, pitching opposite of Griffin Canning (2-2, 3.65 ERA).
Ryne Stanek will open the game for Tampa Bay, the 20th time he’s opened this season. The right-hander, which has allowed six earned runs across 30-1/3 opening innings, has a 1.78 ERA in this role.
Jalen Beeks allowed one run (unearned) on two hits and a walk across four innings on Tuesday. He struck out two on 50 pitches (32 strikes 64% strike rate). Jurickson Profar singled to center to lead off the fifth inning, then moved into second when Mike Zunino allowed a passed ball. The ever-aggressive Profar came around to score on Chad Pinder’s single to center, tagging Beeks for the only damage he would relinquish. In three outings extending back to May 31, Beeks has allowed just two earned runs across 11-2/3 innings with a 4.00 K/BB. His season ERA is down to an impressive 2.55, while his FIP sits at 2.86 across 53 innings of work.
Griffin Canning gave up three earned runs on five hits while striking out five and walking across six innings in his last start. Canning tossed a quality start for the third time in his last five outings although he had to settle for a no-decision after exiting with a 3-1 deficit. After a rough start to the season, the rookie has been impressive sporting a solid 3.65 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and a 4.7 K/BB across 44-1/3 innings. He relies primarily on a 94 mph four-seam fastball and a hard 89 mph worm-killer slider with 12-6 movement, while also mixing in an 82 mph curveball with little depth, and an 89 mph changeup with a lot of backspin.
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 6/16/19 Starting Lineup
- Meadows DH
- Pham LF
- Lowe 2B
- Choi 1B
- Diaz 3B
- Kiermaier CF
- Garcia RF
- Wendle SS
- Zunino C
- Stanek Opener
— Brendan McKay and the Durham Bulls downed the Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge bolstered Scranton Rail Riders on Saturday, 2-0. SS/P Jake Cronenworth opened the game and threw a scoreless frame, striking out a batter, before McKay tossed five scoreless innings. It was the first scoreless outing for McKay since his May 28 debut with Durham. The southpaw threw 41 of 67 pitches for strikes (61% strike rate), struck out seven and walked one, and faced one batter over the minimum.
While one outing against a pair big league sluggers isn’t enough for the Rays front office to shape their opinion or change their plans, it obviously can’t hurt for McKay to show well.
He made 65 pitches in each of his first three outings since being promoted from Double-A Montgomery and has lowered his ERA to 1.35 with 21 punchouts over 20 innings. Across 22 career bulk outings, McKay has yet to allow a run. During his first time pitching out of the bullpen this season, with the Biscuits, he posted six zeros and whiffed nine.
The 23-year-old may find himself pitching out of the bullpen in the big leagues, and potentially sooner than later because of Brent Honeywell’s season-ending injury.
— Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) broke news that I have been sitting on* for a couple of weeks, Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg has purchased a house in St. Petersburg and intends to spend more time in the Sunshine City as stadium discussions start to ramp up between city and team officials.
Sternberg purchased a home in the Old North East area of St. Petersburg, where other Rays’ employees (players and front office staff), both past and present — like Matt Duffy, Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Logan Forsythe— live or have lived. Sternberg moving to St. Petersburg is a great optical move, and it is a sign of commitment to the region, however, he will also need to invest in the community to build public trust.
*For what it is worth, even though I was made aware of Sternberg’s house purchase well before Topkin became privy to the news, I did not feel comfortable outing this, a private decision made by the Rays’ principal owner. Many would have blabbed on soon as they knew, yet tabloid style blog writing is not my raison d’être.