After three consecutive one-run losses to the Texas Rangers, the Tampa Bay Rays will try to get off the schneid tonight against the Baltimore Orioles.
Blake Snell (0-5, 4.98 ERA, 5.17 FIP) will get the start for the Rays, opposite of Kevin Gausman (6-7, 6.11 ERA, 5.05 FIP).
Snell, aside from a misplaced pitch in the first inning, pitched well through the first three innings of his last start. The southpaw used his mid ’90s fastball to play off a devastating slider, allowing him to change the eye level of a number of hitters. Yet the wheels fell off in the fourth inning as Snell needed 31 pitches (just 15 strikes) to notch three outs after he walked the first two batters of the frame. His night was done after 85 pitches and four innings. Snell struck out six but walked three. Simply put, the Rays cannot leave him in the rotation and have postseason aspirations. The team cannot afford the inning to inning inconsistencies, and the four-to-five inning starts each turn.
Gausman has been inconsistent this season (which his 6.11 ERA and 1.75 WHIP loudly advertise) although he allowed just one run over six innings while striking out eight in his last start. Still, starts like this have been few and far in between for the right-hander, who badly needed a positive outing as Buck Showalter recently floated the potential of a demotion to Triple-A. Gausman threw seven scoreless innings and recorded nine strikeouts against the Rays back on July 7. Key Matchups: Evan Longoria (7-27, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB), Logan Morrison (2-8, BB), Trevor Plouffe (4-9, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB), Wilson Ramos (2-6, HR, RBI), Mallex Smith (1-3)
Rays 7/24/17 Starting Lineup
Souza Jr. RF
— The Rays have formally added RHP Sergio Romo to the 25-man roster. To clear a spot for Romo on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters, the team has optioned Andrew Kittredge to Triple-A Durham, and released infielder Rickie Weeks Jr.
Weeks had been on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, although he had just been activated from a rehab assignment in Durham.
The #Rays have made the following roster moves.
▪️Activated RH Sergio Romo
▪️Optioned RH Andrew Kittredge
▪️Released 1B Rickie Weeks Jr.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 24, 2017
Weeks slashed a disappointing .216 BA/.321 OBP/.340 SLG/.661 OPS line in 112 plate appearances with the Rays, logging 90 innings at first base — his lone action on the field. Weeks was brought in to platoon first base with Logan Morrison thanks to his overall success against left-handed pitching. Yet the 34 year-old infielder performed to a dismal .176 BA/.333 OBP/.275 SLG/.605 OPS line in 63 plate appearances against southpaws. Rays manager Kevin Cash said Weeks is healthy, however, they just didn’t have a roster spot available for him. The team instead chose to keep UTL/INF Trevor Plouffe, who offers more defensive flexibility, around.
Romo, who had been designated for assignment by the Dodgers on Thursday, was acquired by the Rays on Saturday in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Cash told the media in his pregame presser that he is very excited to add Romo, who will pitch in “high leverage” situations. He expects the American League’s lack of familiarity with Romo to work to his advantage.
— Another interesting tidbit came from Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), who tweeted that even after acquiring Romo, Cash said the Rays front office is still working hard to make other additions. Bullpen help and a right-handed bat are said to be the team’s focus.
— Tebow-mania comes to the Rays … well, kind of. Kevin Kiermaier will likely start rehab stint in Port Charlotte by this weekend, which means Kiermaier will face Tim Tebow at some point.