Rays acquire Jake Reed from the Dodgers, place Collin McHugh on the IL

The Rays acquired RHP Jake Reed from the Dodgers on Sunday.

The Tampa Bay Rays claimed right-hander Jake Reed off waivers from the Dodgers on Sunday. Tampa Bay also placed right-hander Collin McHugh on the 10-Day Injured List with arm fatigue. He was replaced on the roster by southpaw Ryan Sherriff.

Reed began the season in the Angels’ minor league system, yet he was released on June 2. Two days later, the right-hander signed with the Dodgers and made his big league debut a little more than a month later.

Reed appeared in six games between July 6-18, starting one as an opener. In 5.1 innings of work, he gave up two earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five. Overall, Reed maintains a 3.38 ERA and a 4.84 FIP, with a 1.31 WHIP and a 2.50 K/BB on the season.

He’s a tall Ryan Thompson-like side-armed hurler that boasts an 87-91 mph sinker and a sweeping low 80’s slider. Reed was optioned to Triple-A Durham, although given that he can be tough on right-handed hitters, he could be of use in the upcoming series against the Yankees and Red Sox.

Meanwhile, prior to the series finale with Cleveland on Sunday, the Rays placed McHugh on the Injured List.

It is uncertain exactly how long McHugh will be out, although the team does not consider this to be a sign of a serious injury.

Rays skipper Kevin Cash said the issue surfaced after McHugh made two multi-inning appearances after the All-Star Break and “the bounce-back just wasn’t quite there.”

We know that we’ve got to get him right, that’s for sure, because he’s been as valuable as anybody down there. It didn’t make a ton of sense to wait and try to push through it. So we’ll try to freshen him up and see if we can get his arm feeling better, and then get him back out there. We need him.

— Kevin Cash

McHugh has been fantastic for Tampa Bay this season, maintaining a 1.51 ERA and a 1.36 FIP across 41.2 innings (23 appearances), good for a 1.5 fWAR. He boasts a sterling 36.6% strikeout rate to just a 5.0% walk rate (a 7.32 K/BB).

LBWMF: Rays shellack Cleveland for the second consecutive game, 8-2

Ji-Man Choi, Austin Meadows, and Joey Wendle had themselves a night on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

Tampa Bay’s offense hit pay dirt once again Saturday night, while the Rays’ bullpen limited Cleveland to a pair of runs en route to an 8-2 victory over the Guardians.

At 60-39 on the season, the Rays enter the series finale 21-games over .500 and tied with Boston for first place in the AL East. They have now won five consecutive games, while the Rays are 6-0 against Cleveland this season.

Tampa Bay got off to a good start against J.C. Mejia when Ji-Man Choi hit a one-out, opposite-field homer in the opening inning — his sixth on the season and the second in as many at-bats. Choi ended the night with three extra-base hits while both he and Joey Wendle collected four hits apiece.

Drew Rasmussen got the start for Tampa Bay and tossed a perfect first. Yet, Bobby Bradley tied the game with an opposite-field homer to left-center in the second inning. That, however, was the only blemish against the right-hander, who threw three solid frames and punched out three. Rasmussen needed just 35 pitches (25 strikes, 71% strike rate) over the course of his three-inning outing.

The Rays got that run back, and then some, in the third inning.

Brett Phillips led things off with a homer to right off Mejia — the fifth of the season for the pride of Seminole High.

Choi followed with a one-out double to left-center before Austin Meadows blasted a two-out, two-run home run to right for a three-run advantage. It was the first homer for Meadows and the first of two on the night.

Louis Head, who followed Rasmussen, worked a pair of scoreless innings before Cleveland chased him. Bradley Zimmer hit a grounder wide of first to Choi and he just beat the toss over to Head for an infield hit. The play initially was called an out, yet it was overturned upon review. Cesar Hernandez followed by chopping a ball back to the mound which forced a wild throw from Head, whose throw glanced off Choi’s glove for a two-base error, putting a pair of runners in scoring position. That chased Head.

Kevin Cash called upon Andrew Kittredge, who threw two scoreless innings on Friday. Kittredge struck out Ahmed Rosario on three pitches, while José Ramírez followed with a first-pitch RBI groundout to first to cap Cleveland’s scoring. Franmil Reyes capped the inning by grounding hard to first, ending the threat.

Even so, the Rays got that run back in the top of the next inning.

Mejia walked Phillips to open the frame … and we all know what happens when a batter earns a free pass to lead off a late-in-the-game inning. Phil Maton entered in relief, and one out later, Choi hit an opposite-field RBI double, scoring Phillips and putting the Rays up by three once again.

Jeffrey Springs allowed just a hit in the seventh and eighth innings, and Tampa Bay put the game out of reach in the ninth.

Brandon Lowe singled to right, then moved into second on an errant pickoff attempt. He eventually came around to score on Choi’s single to right.

Two batters later, Meadows hit his second homer of the night, capping the scoring for Tampa Bay.

Diego Castillo put the final nail in the coffin by working around a base hit and finishing up with a scoreless ninth on 17 pitches (12 strikes, 71% strike rate).

All told, the Rays went 2-for-11 wRISP and scored four two-out runs, while Cleveland went 0-for-7 wRISP and stranded five runners on base. Since the acquisition of Nelson Cruz, the Rays have scored 18 runs in 18 innings. While Cruz went 0’fer for the night, the mere threat of his pop forces opposing hurlers to pitch differently to the Rays’ thick lineup.

The New What Next

Ryan Yarbrough (6-4, 4.59 ERA) will pitch in some capacity, be that starter or bulk, pitching opposite of Tristan McKenzie (1-4, 5.91 ERA).

Ryan Yarbrough got the start Monday and coughed up six runs on eight hits and two walks over 5.2 innings. He struck out five. Baltimore didn’t hit the southpaw particularly hard, as a first-inning double by Ryan Mountcastle was the only extra-base hit Yarbrough surrendered. However, given how little run support he received, Yarbs had little to no margin for error. The ebbs and flows of Yarbrough … the lefty has lasted six innings only once in his last five outings. On the season, Yarbrough maintains a 4.59 ERA and a 4.20 FIP, with a 1.22 WHIP and a 4.42 K/BB across 102.0 innings pitched. He is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA across two career outings (one start) against Cleveland.

Triston McKenzie allowed five runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out three over four innings against the Astros on Tuesday. While McKenzie was brilliant in a spot start against Kansas City, he couldn’t replicate the same success against a much more potent Astros’ lineup. José Altuve took him deep twice in the first three frames and the eight hits allowed were a season-high. McKenzie walked just one batter for a second straight game, a category he’s struggled with for most of the season. Even so, the right-hander is having a rough sophomore season, owning a 5.91 ERA and a 5.30 FIP, with a 1.46 WHIP, and a 1.73 K/BB over 53.1 innings. McKenzie relies primarily on a 92 mph four-seam fastball that has some added backspin, while also mixing in a whiffy 79 mph curveball with 12-6 movement and a whiffy 87 mph slider.

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.

Rays 7/24/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Arozarena RF
  2. Choi 1B
  3. Cruz DH
  4. Meadows LF
  5. Díaz 3B
  6. Franco SS
  7. Wendle 2B
  8. Mejía C
  9. Phillips CF
  10. Yarbrough LHP

LBWMF: Rays offense explodes for 10 runs against Clevo

Nelson Cruz hit one of the Rays’ three technical home runs — including a Little League homer by Randy Arozarena — on Friday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After a third consecutive comeback win, this time 10-5 against the Guardians on Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays look for a series win tonight in Cleveland.

The Rays enter play 20-games over .500 for the first time this season, and one game back of Boston in the division. They’ve won 12 of their last 15 games, seven of their last 10, and six of their last eight since the All-Star Break.

The 10 runs plated last night were the most scored on the road since May 20, and newcomer Nelson Cruz was in the thick of the run production.

In the second inning, the Rays plated three runs on Randy Arozarena’s Little League home run.

Then, in the third inning, Nelson Cruz did what he’s wont to do, hit an opposite-field homer to put the Rays up by four.

Yet, Josh Fleming, who got the start on Friday, allowed three runs on six hits and two walks while fanning one across four innings. The left-hander hasn’t completed five innings in any of his last four turns, hasn’t tossed a quality start since May 1, and has allowed crooked numbers in each of his last two outings (and three of his last five) after holding Cleveland hitless on July 7. The southpaw has performed to a 4.07 ERA and a 4.56 FIP, with a 1.14 WHIP, and a 2.33 K/BB across 77.1 innings on the season.

Right-hander Matt Wisler gave up just his third run in 16 outings and 18 innings out of the Rays ‘pen (his second earned run in as many outings), tying the game at four apiece late in the game.

Even so, Tampa Bay erupted for six runs in the ninth inning against relievers Nick Wittgren and Blake Parker.

Joey Wendle singled to left-center field, driving in Arozarena. Two batters later, Ji-Man Choi launched a three-run homer. Cruz scored on Yandy Díaz’s groundout before Brett Phillips scored on Wander Franco’s single.

All told, the Rays have scored at least five runs in four consecutive games — all victories.

The New What Next

Drew Rasmussen (0-1, 4.55 ERA) will start for the Rays on a day that would have been Rich Hill’s bump day, however, he was dealt. Instead, Kevin Cash opted for a bullpen day. Toeing the rubber for Cleveland will be J.C. Mejia (1-5, 7.53 ERA).

Drew Rasmussen will make his second start with Tampa Bay, and his ninth appearance overall. The right-hander threw two scoreless innings against the Orioles on July 19, although Rasmussen did struggle against Cleveland in relief, allowing four runs on the 5th of July.

J.C Mejía allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks over 4.1 innings Monday against the Astros. He struck out eight. Mejía allowed RBI base hits in the first and fourth innings before coughing up a two-run homer to Yordan Alvarez in the fifth, knocking him out of the ballgame. He’s surrendered at least four runs in four of his last five outings, driving his ERA up to 7.53 across 34.2 innings. He’s also lost five consecutive decisions dating back to June 9. The right-hander maintains a 4.70 FIP, a 1.44 WHIP, and a 2.69 K/BB on the season. The Rays tagged Mejía for six runs on four hits (including a home run) and two walks across 2.2 innings on July 7. Key Matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (2-2, 2B, HR, 5 RBI), Joey Wendle (1-2, 2B)

You can read about the series in our (once again) updated preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.

Rays 7/24/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Lowe 2B
  2. Choi 1B
  3. Cruz DH
  4. Meadows LF
  5. Wendle 3B
  6. Franco SS
  7. Kiermaier CF
  8. Zunino C
  9. Phillips RF
  10. Rasmussen RHP

Noteworthiness

— The Rays want you to bring the BOOM on Sunday, August 1. They are offering $23 tickets in the lower reserved section and the GTE Financial Deck. More information can be found via the link below.

— The Rays made roster move, optioning infielder Taylor Walls to Triple-A Durham, while recalling RHP Sean Poppen. The righty is 2-3 with a 1.37 ERA over 17 appearances and 26.1 innings for Durham.

— Manuel Margot could rejoin the big league squad after Monday’s off-day.

— LHP Ryan Sherriff has been added to the taxi squad. With a bullpen day today, the Rays will have a pitcher on site tomorrow should they need.

Rays trade Rich Hill to the New York Mets

The Tampa Bay Rays reunited with a familiar face on Friday … well, kind of.

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays opted to part way with veteran left-hander Rich Hill, who they sent to the New York Mets for veteran right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter (currently on the 60-Day Injured List) and minor league catcher/infielder Matt Dyer. The trade is pending medical reviews of the players involved.

The swap comes on the heels of last night’s trade for Nelson Cruz.

Hill, 41, has pitched to a 3.87 ERA through 95.1 innings so far in 2021, yet he’s struggled rather considerably since mid-June, pitching to a 5.22 ERA, a 1.43 WHIP, and a 2.1 HR/9 over his last 29.1 innings of work. Additionally, in his past seven starts, Hill’s surrendered 20 runs on 34 hits (including seven home runs) and 16 walks, while his 28 strikeouts (19.3%) represent a pretty pronounced decline. Also on the decline are his spin rate and velocity, and the Rays could believe that there isn’t much left in the tank for the veteran southpaw when you consider his age, injury history, and that he’s thrown close to 60 more innings this season than last.

In the short term, the deal opens up a more stable spot for Luis Patiño, who once again joined Ryan Yarbrough, Shane McClanahan, Josh Fleming, and Michael Wacha in the rotation on Thursday. However, with a week until deadline day, this deal likely was executed with an even bigger move in mind; it all but guarantees that Erik Neander and Co. will go after a starting pitcher. After all, Tampa Bay is in “win now” mode, and it is doubtful that they would rely on a rotation composed of three rookies, a guy coming back from a partial UCL tear, a right-hander that has appeared in two games since 2019, someone who’s had an inconsistent 2021 campaign, and Yarbrough who is the current ace of the staff.

Hunter’s inclusion in the swap appears to be a financial counterweight to Hill. Hunter, who pitched to a 2.61 ERA and a 3.07 FIP under the big top in 2017, has been out since May with a back strain, and it’s uncertain whether he will return in 2021. Given that his $2.25-million salary is a bit lighter than Hill’s $2.5-million salary, the Rays are saving roughly $99-thousand by agreeing to take on his contract in return.

As Steve Adams (MLB Trade Rumors) writes, Dyer is a rather interesting addition for the Rays.

The Rays do come away with an interesting prospect in the 23-year-old Dyer, whom the Mets selected in the fourth round of the shortened 2020 draft. Dyer has spent the season with the Mets’ Class-A affiliate and shown some concerning swing-and-miss tendencies (30.9 percent strikeout rate), but he’s also walked at a high clip and shown good power. He’s hitting .194/.329/.452 with seven homers, seven doubles, a pair of triples and six steals, and Dyer has spent time at catcher (65 innings), at first base (80 innings), at third base (66 innings) and in right field (18 innings) so far this season.

Baseball America’s scouting report on Dyer prior to last year’s draft suggested that he had a plus arm, average sped and the potential to be an average or better defender at as many as five positions, including catcher, which sounds like a player tailor-made for the Rays organization. This year’s strikeout concerns underscore that he’s far from a sure thing to hit enough to realize that potential, but he’s a somewhat interesting name to add to the system in return for a struggling pitcher on an expiring contract.

— Steve Adams

And with this, we bid farewell to Rich “Dick Mountain” Hill who was fantastic and entertaining when he was on, and infuriatingly frustrating when he wasn’t.

Rays 7/23/21 pregame notes

Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Guardians and the Rays’ current four-game set.

Another day, another come from behind win. After coming from behind a 3-o deficit to defeat Cleveland on Thursday in extra innings, 5-4, the Tampa Bay Rays will welcome a left-handed mashing slugger into the fold tonight when they play the second game of a four-game series in Cleveland.

Thanks to the win, the Rays enter play a season high tying 19-games over .500 and 1.o game behind the Red Sox in the division. They now have accrued 30 come-from-behind wins on the season, and are 5-9 in extra-inning contests. A victory tonight would push them to 20 games above .500 for the first time this season.

Luis Patiño got the start for Tampa Bay on Thursday and allowed four runs on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts across 5.1 innings versus the Guardians. He threw 66 of 98 pitches for strikes (67% strike rate). Patiño was alright, with the majority of Cleveland’s damage coming on a three-run homer in the third inning. Yet, Rays’ pitchers, including the right-hander, were able to hold the Guardians to 1-for-13 wRISP. Patiño’s ERA rose to 5.26, while his FIP currently sits at 4.18, with a 1.25 WHIP and 3.5 K/BB across 25.2 innings this season.

Tonight’s contest will mark the Tampa Bay debut of Nelson Cruz, who was acquired from the Twins yesterday. Cruz — who has 19 homers, 50 RBI, and a .907 OPS on the season — is expected to DH for the Rays. To make room on the roster, Chris Mazza, who threw 2.2 scoreless innings last night, was optioned to Durham.

You can read about the acquisition of Boomstick below.

The New What Next

Josh Fleming (7-5, 3.93 ERA) will get the start tonight, pitching opposite of Zach Plesac (5-3, 4.19 ERA).

Josh Fleming was hit hard by Atlanta, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits and a walk over 4.1 innings. He also struck out two and hit a batter. Fleming had his worst outing as a big-leaguer, surrendering a pair of home runs in same-handed at-bats with Joc Pederson and Freddie Freeman to account for part of the damage. Atlanta was able to square up consistently against the lefty, as former Rays Kevan Smith and Guillermo Heredia, as well as opposing starter Max Fried and Ozzie Albies all laced doubles off him as well. Prior to that though, he threw 2.2 scoreless innings against Cleveland on July 7th, a seven-inning game where Tampa Bay didn’t allow a hit. Fleming currently maintains a 3.93 ERA and a 4.41 FIP on the season, with a 1.09 WHIP, and a 2.39 K/BB across 73.1 innings of work.

Zach Plesac allowed two earned runs on four hits and one walk while striking out three across six innings on Sunday against the Athletics. Plesac surrendered a game-tying home run to Seth Brown in the fifth inning, however, Cleveland added a run in the seventh to set up Plesac with the win. The 26-year-old missed six weeks with a thumb injury and has had an inconsistent season. He maintains a 4.19 ERA and a 4.78 FIP on the season, with a 1.02 WHIP, and a 3.46 K/BB across 68.2 innings of work. He is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in one career start against the Rays. Plesac relies primarily on a 93 mph four-seam fastball, an 88 mph hard slider with 12-6 movement, and a frim 86 mph changeup, while also mixing in a hard 81 mph curveball with 12-6 movement. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (2-2, HR, RBI), Joey Wendle (1-2, 2B)

You can read about the series in our updated preview below, while the starting lineup is below.

Rays 7/23/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Lowe 2B
  2. Choi 1B
  3. Cruz DH
  4. Meadows LF
  5. Díaz 3B
  6. Franco SS
  7. Arozarena RF
  8. Kiermaier CF
  9. Zunino C
  10. Fleming LHP