After defeating the San Diego Padres on Monday, 10-4, the Tampa Bay Rays will try for a series win Tonight. At 70-50 on the season, Tampa Bay is 20-games above .500 for the first time since 2013, when the Rays last reached the postseason. The Rays were also 20-games over .500 the other three times they made the playoffs: 2011, 2010, and 2008.
According to the team, since the second Wildcard was added in 2012, all 27 teams to win 70 or more of first 120 ballgames made playoffs.
The Rays enter play two games ahead of Oakland for the final Wildcard spot, and two behind Minnesota for the lead Wildcard spot. FanGraphs gives them an 81.1% chance of a postseason berth, while Baseball Prospectus gives them an 85.7% likelihood of playing beyond September As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) writes, Tampa Bay is 39-22 on the road, best in baseball, and has won eight straight games away from Tropicana Field. The Rays also are 12-4 against NL clubs this season.
The New What Next
Brendan McKay (2-2, 4.55 ERA) will make his seventh big league start, pitching opposite of fellow southpaw Eric Lauer (6-8, 4.51 ERA).
Brendan McKay allowed three earned runs on six hits and a walk while striking out eight over five innings against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. McKay continued to post impressive strikeout totals, backed by 14 swinging strikes on 93 total pitches (15% SwStr). His outing was soured by two homers, although both were solo shots. He now has a 4.55 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP with 33 punchouts across 29-2/3 innings on the season. Tuesday’s appearance will be the two-way player’s first opportunity to pitch and hit in the same game.
Eric Lauer threw four innings and gave up three runs on 10 hits while striking out two. Lauer did little to stifle Colorado’s offense as he allowed at least one hit in each inning and induced only four whiffs. The result could have been worse if not for a number of defensive plays behind him, including a putout at home plate followed by a double play to end the threat after Lauer allowed three consecutive singles to begin the fourth inning. The 24-year-old maintains a 4.51 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and a 2.87 K/BB across 109-2/3 innings. Lauer relies primarily on a 92 mph four-seam and an 88 mph cutter with strong cutting action, while also mixing in a 77 mph 12-6 curveball that has some two-plane movement. Key Matchups: Tommy Pham (2-5)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 8/13/19 Starting Lineup
- Heredia CF
- Meadows LF
- Duffy 3B
- Garcia RF
- Choi 1B
- Adames SS
- Sogard 2B
- Zunino C
- McKay LHP
— Left-handed reliever Jose Alvarado will re-join the team tonight after a month-long (give or take) stint on the Injured List. Austin Pruitt, who threw four innings last night, has been optioned to Durham to create space on the active roster for Alvarado. He needed just five rehab appearances between the Class-A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Triple-A Durham Bulls to be reinstated from the injury.
The Rays will need another bulk or starting pitcher sometime after the upcoming off-day, on Thursday.
— On July 28th, Tommy Pham attempted to stretch a single into a double. In doing so, Pham fractured his hand on a head-first slide, which, when faced with a question of why he hasn’t been in the lineup as often of late, he confirmed in an interview with Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times):
Pham didn’t have a lot of specifics to offer but said the injury is more than a sprain.
I’ve got some problems, he said. There’s a small fracture, but it’s small enough where I can play. And I’ve got some swelling.— Marc Topkin
Kevin Cash has used Pham sparingly although the outfielder is hesitant to rest his injury. In eight games since the injury, Pham has five hits (three doubles) across 34 plate appearances.
Ever the fighter, Pham made it known that he has no intention of going on the IL:
I’m not going on the injured list, I’ll fight them on that.— Tommy Pham
The team is granting his wishes for now, although Rays officials are requesting second opinions on his hand to determine the new what next.