After taking two of three from the Yankees over the weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays will continue their opening homestand on Monday, when they welcome the Texas Rangers into the Trop for a four-game series. The Rangers are coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Padres.
Tampa Bay has won two of the first three series of the season, taking two of three from Miami before getting swept by the Red Sox. Yet, following the depressing three-game set against Boston, their fortunes changed against the Yankees who they just faced. Meanwhile, Texas won the final two games of the series against the Blue Jays earlier in the week only to be swept by San Diego because of awful production at the plate which included two shutout losses, as well as being the recipient of Joe Musgrove’s no-hitter.
Despite uneven production, the Rays are still averaging 4.56 runs per game, ranking them at 12th in baseball. Yet, therein lies a problem — they also own a 5.18 team ERA. That, however, is juxtaposed by a 3.33 team FIP. Meanwhile, the Rangers are scoring an average of 4 runs per game on the season, while the pitching staff enters the series with a 5.53 team ERA and a 5.22 team FIP.
The Rays showed glimpses of what we could expect, both offensively and on the mound, against a very good Yankees ball club. And while friend of the Rays, Nate Lowe, as well as a few others, got off to a good start, the Rangers are not of the same caliber as the Yankees or even the Red Sox. Does that mean the Rays should take a laissez-faire attitude toward the series? Absolutely not. It is to say, however, that they can use this four-game set as a springboard for the following series against the Bronx Bummers.
Tampa Bay is 7-3 in the last 10-games against Texas.
Over the next four days, Kevin Cash will turn to Tyler Glasnow (0-0, 0.75 ERA), Ryan Yarbrough (0-1, 5.06 ERA), Rich Hill (1-0, 7.20 ERA), and a pitcher to be named before the series finale. Chris Woodward will counter with Dane Dunning (1-0, 1.80 ERA), Kyle Gibson (1-0, 7.11 ERA), Kohei Arihara (0-1, 5.00 ERA), and Jordan Lyles (1-0, 4.50 ERA).
Tyler Glasnow got the start for Tampa Bay on Tuesday tasked with putting together a quality outing as well as shutting down a Red Sox offense that plated 11 runs the night before. Given how dominant he was on Opening Day, the question begged: would Tyler be able to put up similar numbers in his second outing of the season? The answer was yes and no. Was Glasnow as dominant on Tuesday as he was on Opening Day? No. However, he was very good nonetheless. The right-hander made some big pitches when he needed to and limited Boston to one run across six innings.
Glasnow got into trouble in the first inning when he gave up a leadoff double to Christian Arroyo that chopped its way down the left-field line. The one time Ray moved up to third on a groundout by J.D. Martinez that was full of indecision by Willy Adames, who had an opportunity to tag Arroyo as he made his way to third. Arroyo later came around to score on a wild pitch to Xander Bogaerts, who subsequently struck out on a 99 mph fastball.
From there Glasnow went to work, scattering three other hits and two walks across five scoreless frames. He used roughly the same mix of pitches as he had against Miami, although he coaxed fewer whiffs: 52 four-seam fastballs (six whiffs, 33% called strikes+whiffs), 34 cut-sliders (five whiffs, 21% called strikes+whiffs), and 10 curveballs (three whiffs, 40% called strikes+whiffs). And while Glasnow did not have the eye-popping 75% strike rate of five days ago, the results speak favorably for the Rays’ ace. His final line: 6 IP/4 H/2 BB/1 R/9 K on 97 pitches (60 strikes, 62% strike rate, 16.2 pitches per inning). Glasnow is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in one career start against Texas.
Dane Dunning pitched five innings and allowed one run on three hits and no walks while striking out six on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. The right-hander looked like he might be in for a tough night after Bo Bichette clubbed a solo homer off him in the first inning, yet that was the only run Dunning allowed during the contest. He was expected to tandem start with Wes Benjamin on Tuesday, however, Dunning was efficient enough with his pitch count — tossing 70 pitches (51 for strikes, 73% strike rate) — that he remained in the game long enough to earn the win. Dunning relies primarily on a 92mph sinker, an 82 mph slider, and a 92 mph four-seam fastball, while also mixing in an 86 mph changeup and a 79 mph curveball.
Ryan Yarbrough allowed six runs on nine hits and a walk while fanning two across five innings against the Red Sox on Wednesday. The lefty opened the season with a strong performance against Miami, tossing 5-2/3 shutout frames while striking out three, however, he wasn’t able to repeat the feat against Boston, as he barely managed to complete five innings. Yarbrough held the Red Sox without a run through the first three innings, but the wheels fell off in the fourth inning and he was eventually chased in a six-run fifth. Yarbrough is 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in two career outings (one start) against the Rangers.
Kyle Gibson threw six shutout innings on Wednesday against Toronto. He scattered six hits and a walk while striking out eight. Gibson had a nightmarish first start of the season against the Royals, allowing five runs on four hits and three walks over one-third of an inning. Yet, he successfully quieted the Blue Jays’ bats, allowing him to lower his ERA to 7.11. Gibson is 4-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 11 career outings (10 starts) against Tampa Bay. Gibson relies primarily on a 93 mph two-seam sinker and an 84 mph slider, while also mixing in an 85 mph changeup, a 93 mph four-seam fastball, and a 79 mph curveball. Key Matchups: (3-4, HR, RBI), Mike Brosseau (1-1, 2B, 2 RBI), Yandy Díaz (1-3), Brandon Lowe (2-7, 2B, 3B, RBI), Brett Phillips (1-3), Joey Wendle (3-10, 2B, 3B)
Rich Hill took the mound on Friday with a monkey on his back after he allowed four runs in his four-inning Rays’ debut. The veteran lefty retired his first eight batters before Tyler Wade sparked a two-out rally in the third inning, reaching on an infield hit near second base. D.J. LeMahieu followed with a ground-rule double that bounced over the wall in center field, putting runners at second and third, before Giancarlo Stanton hit an RBI single against the shift, plating a pair of runs and tying the game at two. Aaron Hicks capped the four-run rally with a two-run homer.
Yet, Hill settled down and settled in, retiring the final 10 batters he faced in order and collecting two of his seven strikeouts in a 10-pitch inning that followed New York’s uprising. Hill ended up throwing six efficient innings and tossed 61 of 83 pitches for strikes (73% strike rate, 13.8 pitches per inning) without walking a batter. Hill is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three career outings (one start) against the Rangers.
Kohei Arihara allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk while striking out a batter over four innings against the Padres on Friday. Arihara ran into trouble after the first innings, allowing two runs in the second and an additional one in the third on a pair of extra-base hits and a sac-fly. He has been capped at 73 pitches in each of his first two turns, meaning he typically won’t pitch deeply. While the Rangers haven’t given him much run support, Arihara hasn’t been impressive either, allowing 11 hits and five earned runs in nine innings while striking out just two batters. Arihara relies primarily on a low-90’s two-seam and a four-seam fastball, a high-80’s splitter, a low-80’s slider thrown to right-handed hitters, a cutter, and a mid-70’s changeup, that he throws against left-handed hitters.
Jordan Lyles allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out one across 4-1/3 innings on Saturday against the Padres. Lyles got through the first three innings cleanly before giving up a pair of home runs to Eric Hosmer and Ha-Seong Kim. The 30-year-old is coming off a poor start and boasts a 7.02 ERA and 1.56 WHIP thus far. Lyles is 0-0 with a 1.69 ERA in two career outings (one start) against the Rays. He relies primarily on a 93 mph four-seam fastball and an 80 mph knuckle curveball, while also mixing in an 86 mph slider and an 87 mph changeup. Key Matchups: Austin Meadows (2-3, HR, 2 RBI), Mike Zunino (2-6)