After a 6-2 in Kansas City last night, the Tampa Bay Rays look to bounce back in the season series finale with the Royals tonight. A win would result in Tampa Bay’s second consecutive series win on their current nine-game road trip. The Rays start the day 3-1/2 games behind Minnesota for the final Wildcard spot with 28 games left to play.
The Rays are 14-3 in series wins when they take the first game of a series (82.4% win percentage), which they did Monday night. That, however, doesn’t mean they are in for a cakewalk tonight — Tampa Bay has dropped nine of ten, and 16 of their last 18, games at Kauffman Stadium, and they’ll be facing a pitcher who they haven’t had a great amount of success against.
The New What Next
Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.82 ERA, 5.95 FIP) will get the start for Tampa Bay, pitching opposite of Jason Vargas (14-8, 3.72 ERA, 4.29 FIP).
Odorizzi allowed three runs through 3-2/3 innings his last time out, but has been unable to complete four frames in consecutive starts; he has pitched into the fifth in one of his past five starts. Odo is now 0-3 over that stretch with a 6.75 ERA and a 1/1 K/BB. Suffice it to say, until he can find a way to fix his massive control problems, Jake will remain in this funk. In six games against Kansas City, he is 1-4 with a 4.65 ERA.
As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) noted, the Rays have not used Sergio Romo, Steve Cishek, Tommy Hunter and Alex Colome the last two games, and tomorrow is an off-day before rosters expand on Friday September first. That is, expect Kevin Cash to have a very short leash on Odorizzi tonight.
Vargas struggled through five innings against Cleveland last Friday, allowing four runs on six hits in a 4-0 loss. In August Vargas has allowed four earned runs or more in three of his five starts (and six times overall). Each one of those ill fated starts resulted in a tally in the loss column for Kansas City. Be that as it may, the right-hander shutdown the Rays back in May, tossing six innings of scoreless baseball, and allowing just three hits and a walk. Overall he is 5-5 against the Rays with a 2.80 ERA in 11 starts. Key Matchups: Corey Dickerson (1-3), Danny Espinosa (1-3), Evan Longoria (7-26, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB), Brad Miller (4-8)
Rays 8/30/17 Starting Lineup
— A different look for the Rays tonight vs southpaw Jason Vargas, with Puello in left field, Bourjos in right, and Steven Souza Jr. as the DH.
— The Arizona Fall League rosters have been announced and pitchers Spencer Jones, Dalton Moats, Benton Moss and Burch Smith, along with position players Brandon Lowe, Kevin Padlo and Brett Sullivan, will represent the Rays this year.
— According to Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), the Rays are sorting through waiver claims of their players, as well as options on guys who cleared, and claims they have made:
The Rays are sorting through claims made on the players they put on waivers, discussing those who cleared and eyeing potential acquisitions, or preventing those by competitors, with claims of their own in advance of the Thursday deadline to make trades with postseason eligibility. One interesting decision could be a claim on or offer for 1B/DH Lucas Duda, who has hit a team-high eight homers since being added July 28 from the Mets. But he hasn’t done much else, going into play Tuesday hitting .205 as a Ray, with his only four hits over the past 10 games being home runs. “I know our guys really liked him,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Very similar to a lot of the hitters that we have here, especially Logan (Morrison), how they go about it.”
— With September call-ups just around the corner, the Rays are expected to initially promote Curt Casali, Mallex Smith and a couple of relievers, perhaps lefties Jose Alvarado or Adam Kolarek.