Day game after a matinee game…that’s how the saying goes, right? After defeating the Brewers on Saturday, 8-4 — thus earning a series win — the Tampa Bay Rays will go for the series sweep this afternoon at the Trop.

At 34-13 on the season, the Rays enter play 21 games over .500, and 3.5 games ahead of the second-place Orioles in the division.

The Rays made a pair of roster moves this morning, optioning RHP Ryan Thompson to Triple-A Durham, and recalling RHP Cooper Criswell. The moves serve dual purposes.

First, Thompson has scuffled of late, pitching to an 11.05 ERA and a 5.23 FIP in 7.5 relief innings in the month of May, with a 1.64 WHIP, and a 2.00 K/BB over that stretch. The demotion will give him an opportunity to work through his issues and return to the big league roster in short order — relatively speaking.

More importantly, though, with Tyler Glasnow slated to make his final rehab appearance with Triple-A Durham today, he is in line to be activated from the 60-Day Injured List later this week. That sets him up to make his season debut versus the Dodgers on Friday. Because of it, the Rays had two options: go with a bullpen day, or recall an arm that could give Kevin Cash some length. Given that the bullpen has been heavily relied upon of late (with the exception of the last two contests), the latter approach to this afternoon’s contest was more reasonable than the former.

In 6.2 innings with the Rays this season (across two appearances), Criswell is 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA and a 4.02 FIP, with a 1.35 WHIP, and a 5.00 K/BB. Across 29.1 Triple-A innings, though, Criswell has far more impressive numbers, going 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA and a 4.05 FIP (belied by a 2.82 xFIP).

The New What Next

Jalen Beeks (1-2, 4.70 ERA, 4.21 FIP) will open for Cooper Criswell this afternoon. The tandem will pitch opposite Freddy Peralta (4-3, 4.11 ERA, 3.91 FIP).

Jalen Beeks pitched two scoreless innings against the Mets on Tuesday. He allowed one hit and struck out two. Beeks cruised through the opening two frames on 26 pitches while allowing just an infield single to Francisco Lindor. He now has four consecutive scoreless outings and has pitched more than an inning in four of his six appearances in May. He has lowered his ERA and FIP to 4.70 and 4.21 respectively, with a 1.18 WHIP, and a 1.8 K/BB over 22 innings on the season.

Freddy Peralta allowed six runs on six hits and five walks while striking out four batters over 5.1 innings against the Cardinals. Peralta fell behind early, surrendering a three-run homer to Nolan Arenado in the first inning, although he rebounded to allow just one more run over his following four frames. Be that as it may, his outing ended after he put two of the first three batters on base in the sixth, with both runners eventually coming around to score. Peralta had been pitching well coming into the contest, notching three straight quality starts during which he allowed just five runs while posting a 4.6 K/BB over 18 innings. All told, he maintains a 4.11 ERA and a 3.91 FIP, with a 1.30 WHIP, and an 2.63 K/BB through 46.0 innings on the season. Peralta relies primarily on a whiffy 95 mph fourseam fastball that has some natural sinking action and an 82 mph slider that sweeps across the zone, while also mixing in a 76 mph 12-6 curveball, and an 89 mph changeup that has slight arm-side fade and some natural sink to it. He is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in one career start against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Christian Bethancourt (1-2), Yandy Díaz (1-2, HR, 2 RBI), Harold Ramírez (1-4)

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.

Rays 5/21/23 Starting Lineup

  1. Díaz 1B
  2. Franco SS
  3. B. Lowe 2B
  4. Arozarena LF
  5. Ramírez DH
  6. J. Lowe RF
  7. Walls 3B
  8. Margot CF
  9. Mejía C


— Ken Rosenthal (The Athletic) dropped a bombshell (yawn) this morning, that the Rays are garnering interest from multiple potential buyers. This, however, is neither breaking news nor interesting. Rather it’s just leverage building, by way of the manufacturing consent model, amidst ongoing talks with the city of St. Pete.

Bear in mind that the Rays have ALWAYS attracted buyers. What then is the difference? The news was likely leaked by the front office or Stu himself. In other words, it’s a tacit way of moving stadium talks along by saber rattling… “Build us a stadium, or we’ll sell to someone else who could move the team.” Is it underhanded and dirty, given that Mayor Welch has been very friendly to the team? Absolutely. Is it reasonable to assume Stu would leak the news given that he, years ago, blatantly said the same thing in a presser about a new stadium? Also yes. It’s part of the owner’s playbook.

The following quote from MLB Trade Rumors‘ write-up of Rosenthal’s article is rather telling, “The interest gives Rays ownership plenty of options as they attempt to secure a ballpark in either Tampa or St. Petersburg prior to the expiration of their lease at Tropicana Field.”

In other words, don’t believe the hype. Sternberg won’t sell the team until it’s reached peak value — when a new stadium is built.