Day game after a night game. After a 5-0 loss to the Texas Rangers, the Tampa Bay Rays look to bounce back on Saturday with one of their top prospects on the mound.
Tampa Bay has struggled since winning three of four in Boston over a three-day stretch, dropping 12 of the last 17. The team has trailed in 16 of those 17 games, and 14 times by multiple runs.
Part of their early season success was the ability to catch lightning in a bottle and score early runs. That wow factor was due in large part to Austin Meadows, yet he is also a factor in the disappearance of the offense.
Remember the terrific run leading up to Corey Dickerson’s All-Star nomination in 2017? Meadows slash lines are starting to resemble Dickerson’s productive run and subsequent regression.
April: .351 BA/.422 OBP/.676 SLG/1.098 OPS/.324 ISO/.400 wOBA/19 wRC+
May: .356 BA/.440 OBP/.671 SLG/1.112 OPS/.315 ISO/.392 wOBA/20 wRC+
June: .212 BA/.284 OBP/.313 SLG/.598 OPS/.101 ISO/.304 wOBA/8 wRC+
As Jason Collette (The Process Report) tweeted, Meadows can fix the hole in his swing if he stops chasing pitches out of the zone. …There’s no time like the present.
The big news of the day, Brendan McKay will make his big league debut this afternoon. Between Double-A and Triple-A this season, McKay is 6-0 with a 1.22 ERA. The left-hander is expected to make a start this afternoon and then one against New York on Friday.
To make room for McKay on the 25 and 40-man rosters, the Rays have designated Casey Sadler for assignment. Sadler pitched in the final three frames of last night’s defeat. More on McKay below.
The New What Next
Brendan McKay (3-0, 1.08 ERA at AAA) will get the start today, pitching opposite of Adrian Sampson (3-3, 5.23 ERA).
Brendan McKay will be promoted to the big leagues ahead of his scheduled start on Saturday. Even though Rays will likely keep his pitch around 65, he stretched out to 85 pitches in his last start with Triple-A Durham on June 22. McKay has proven ready for the major leagues with his performance at Durham, posting a 1.08 ERA and 0.76 WHIP with 26 strikeouts across 25 innings.
The two-way player entered the season as one of the top minor prospects in the game. Keith Law (ESPN) and Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen each ranked McKay as the 14th-best prospect in baseball, while MLB.com ranked him 29th, Baseball Prospectus ranked him 42nd, and Baseball America ranked him 49th.
McKay has shown a lot of promise on the bump, with a pristine 1.85 ERA, 6.24 K/BB rate, and 11.6 K/9 across 165 innings pitched. At the plate, he has slashed a .216 BA/.348 OBP/.356/.704 OPS line with 14 homers over 541 plate appearances, although he has been a rather prodigious hitter against Triple-A pitching.
While it is uncertain how long his initial stay in the big leagues will last, McKay will be used to address the Rays’ pitching needs. Tyler Glasnow is facing a long stint on the injured list after suffering a setback in his recovery from a forearm injury, and Tampa Bay is down to Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, and Yonny Chirinos as regular starters, with openers and bulk inning guys handling the other times through the rotation. Getting some quality innings from McKay would go a long way for the Rays, as they could then focus on adding relief pitching at the deadline, as opposed to having to think about acquiring a starter as well.
It isn’t yet known whether McKay will get any DH at-bats at the big leagues level, although as MLB Trade Rumors suggested, Tampa Bay has cycled so many players through the designated hitter spot this season (as a way of keeping everyone fresh) that it stands to reason McKay could also get a look.
Adrian Sampson allowed one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out four over seven innings on Sunday. Over his previous two outings, Sampson had allowed nine runs in just eight innings, so suffice it to say Sunday was a much-needed turnaround. He was able to lower his season ERA to 4.14 over 82-2/3 innings. Sampson is 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA in one career start (5-2/3 innings) against Tampa Bay. The right-hander relies primarily on a 93 mph four-seam fastball with natural sinking action and an 84 mph slider with exceptional depth, while also mixing in a firm 88 mph changeup with some arm-side fade. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (2-3, HR, 2 RBI), Tommy Pham (1-3), Joey Wendle (1-2, 2B), Mike Zunino (1-3)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness.
Rays 6/29/19 Starting Lineup
- Meadows LF
- Kiermaier CF
- Pham DH
- Choi 1B
- Diaz 3B
- Wendle 2B
- Garcia RF
- Adames SS
- d’Arnaud C
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