Suffice it to say it was a no good, very bad weekend for the Tampa Bay Rays. Not only did they fail to gain any tangible ground in the AL Wildcard race, in spite of a pretty bad weekend for the Athletics and Mariners — both of whom are ahead of the Rays in the Wildcard rankings — but they dropped three-of-four to the worst team in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles. The lost weekend only exacerbated the feelings of confusion within the ranks of the team, with the non-waiver trade deadline looming Tuesday afternoon.
Whatever the case, Tampa Bay is set to start a nine-game home-stand after an off-day Monday. First up, a three-game set against the Los Angeles Angels, who start the series 1/2 game ahead of the Rays in the Wildcard rankings.
The known known, this weekend Tampa Bay was outscored 40-16 by the Orioles. The pitching staff looked abysmal, and it would be reasonable to question whether the odd things the Rays have done with their pitching staff has caught up with them? Rays manager Kevin Cash doesn’t think so, saying,
I don’t think so. I have thought about that the last couple days. All the wear and tear, we’ve asked guys to bounce back. We’re learning a lot as we go. Who can bounce back? What pitchers are capable of? But there’s been no complaints. I don’t feel like we’re pitching anybody that has expressed they’re tired or anything. I know that for a fact.
There are points during a season for starting pitchers and for relievers — I know we’re doing some unusual things — where a staff can go through a funk. And it seems like we all caught that funk here for three days.
In all honesty though, there may be something to that question, although there probably isn’t enough data at the moment to come to a definitive conclusion.
What’s also known, the Angels reasserted themselves into the Wildcard race having won two-of-three against Seattle, and outscoring the Mariners 20-16.
And while the Angels showed they were more than capable of scoring runs with two outs, plating 14 of them over the last three days (70% of the total runs scored throughout the series) and hitting .625 wRISP, the Rays couldn’t stop the Orioles under similar circumstances, allowing nine runs.
The Rays would undoubtedly welcome a similar outcome to that of the previous series with the Angels, when they won three-of-four (May 17 – 20). But for that to happen, the pitching staff must throw as it had from May 19 up to July 1. Otherwise, Tampa Bay will continue to pivot toward irrelevancy at a point when it has a chance to make hay.
While only one “opener or starter” has been listed for this middle of the week series, Ryne Stanek (1-3, 2.43 ERA), newcomer Tyler Glasnow will throw on Wednesday (that is, if he isn’t dealt), and Jaylen Beeks (0-0, 21.60 ERA) on Thursday. Ryan Yarbrough (9-5, 3.67 ERA) will get the bulk of the innings in the series opener. Mike Scioscia will counter with Tyler Skaggs (8-6, 2.62 ERA), Nick Tropeano (4-5, 4.82 ERA), and Andrew Heaney (6-6, 3.64 ERA).
Note: due to the fluidity associated with the trade deadline, the pitching probables will be adjusted pending a need.
Ryne Stanek gave up three uncharacteristic earned runs on two hits and two walks over two innings of work on Saturday. He struck out one. Stanek had enjoyed success as a “bullpen day” opener, but ran into a suddenly hot-hitting Orioles team and was tagged for back-to-back home runs by Trey Mancini and Joey Rickard in the second inning. In spite of his struggles though, Stanek still sports an impressive 2.43 ERA on the season, while the pair of homers were the first he had relinquished since May 11.
Ryan Yarbrough allowed two earned runs on six hits and two walks across 4-1/3 innings against the Orioles on Thursday. Yarbrough entered the game with a pair of runners on first and second in the second inning, and ultimately stranded the bases loaded. A two-run shot by Jonathan Schoop accounted for his only earned runs of the game. That marked the first homer Yarbrough had allowed since June 28, and the left-hander now boasts a solid 3.67 ERA across 98 innings this season.
Tyler Skaggs picked up a win on Wednesday, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits over six innings, while fanning nine. Skaggs attacked hitters from the start, throwing 19 of 23 first pitch strikes and coaxing 15 swinging strikes (22% SwStr rate) en route to the season-high nine punch outs. The southpaw has allowed one run or fewer in seven of his last eight starts (with a 4.25 K/BB over 50 innings in that span), lowering his already impressive ERA to 2.62. Skaggs allowed just one run on six hits (including a homer) in a six inning start against the Rays on May 17. He, however, was credited with a loss in that contest. Key Matchups: CJ Cron (1-3, HR, RBI), Adeiny Hecahvarria (1-1), Daniel Robertson (1-1, 2 BB)
Tyler Glasnow Following the series opener with the Angels, Rays manager Kevin Cash announced that Glasnow, just acquired from the Pirates for Chris Archer, will make his Tampa Bay debut. The right-hander has the arsenal profiles near the top of a Major League rotation. This season Glasnow has performed to a 4.34 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and a 2.12 K/BB in 56 innings out of the bullpen, but a 7.24 ERA, 1.90 WHIP and 1.53 K/BB in 73-1/3 career innings as an MLB starter, although he has been dominant at times in that role in recent years at Triple-A.
Baseball America noted that his mechanical difficulties may stem from his 6’9″ height:
The towering, 6-foot-9 righthander reached as high as the No. 14 prospect in baseball in 2015, but mechanical difficulties related to his height haven’t allowed him to reach that ceiling. After multiple failed bids at starting, Glasnow moved to relief this year and has been better, going 1-2, 4.34 and shaving his walk rate from 6.4 per nine innings to 5.5 while increasing his strikeout rate from 8.1 to 11.6 per nine innings. Glasnow brings a huge fastball that sits 96-98 mph and a wipeout curveball. The problem is he struggles to throw strikes, and after he walks batters, he is slow to the plate and allows them to steal easily. Glasnow has slowly made fixes to alleviate those problems somewhat, but it is still a work in progress. The Rays will hope he is a late-bloomer, like many other tall pitchers, and that the best is yet come.
Glasnow last pitched on July 26th, when he threw three scoreless innings for the Pirates on 57 pitches. He is expected to work 2-4 innings, then will be followed by Jake Faria, who was activated from the DL following Monday night’s game.
RH Jake Faria will be reinstated prior to tomorrow’s game. RH Andrew Kittredge has been optioned to Triple-A @DurhamBulls.
RH Tyler Glasnow will start tomorrow.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 1, 2018
In order to make room for Faria on the roster, the Rays optioned RHP Andrew Kittredge back to Triple-A Durham.
Nick Tropeano allowed five earned runs over six innings on Thursday, but still picked up the win over the White Sox. He struck out seven. All five of his runs came off of solo homers. In spite of the bizarre final line, Tropeano still managed to limit baserunners to where he avoided crooked numbers until the seventh inning, when Avisail Garcia and Daniel Palka launched moon shots, and Nicky Delmonico finished him off with a homer to right field. The right-hander had been susceptible to the long ball coming into Thursday with a 1.4 HR/9 rate, but he hadn’t been hit to this extent in any of his 11 previous starts. Tropeano allowed four runs on six hits (including two homers) over just 2-2/3 innings against the Rays on May 18. Key Matchups: Daniel Robertson (2-2, HR, RBI), Mallex Smith (1-2, RBI), Joey Wendle (1-2)
Jaylen Beeks allowed eight runs on 10 hits and three walks over 3-1/3 innings Saturday in Baltimore. Only 45 of his 82 pitches were thrown for strikes (55% strike rate), which is a recipe for disaster for a pitcher like Beeks, who relies upon deception and getting ahead in the count.
Beeks actually wasn’t hit that hard, “sort of placed to death,” as Kevin Cash put it, although the damage was still self-inflicted due to the compromising position he put himself in by falling behind hitters, and throwing only eight first-pitch strikes.
Beeks is well aware of the circumstances leading to his rough outing:
I’ve got to get in the zone more. Just didn’t get ahead of guys and put myself in bad counts.
That made the bad results less concerning to Cash:
It seemed like a lot he was behind, just 1-0, 2-0 on a lot of guys and that’s not him. So that’s something we’re confident he can correct here real quick.
Ideally you’d just like to see him bounce back, throw some more strikes, control the count a little better. We’ll probably have some better outings from him.
Andrew Heaney gave up up three earned runs on seven hits over eight innings in his last start, striking out five and walking none. Heaney was efficient in his outing, throwing just 63 pitches through the first seven innings, and needing just 81 (70% strike rate) to make it through eight frames. Heaney, however, cost himself a shot at his seventh win of the season after allowing the game-tying run in the eighth inning before being pulled from the game. It was still another solid start for Heaney, who has quietly been a workhorse over the last two months. This was the seventh time this season he hurled seven innings or more, and has lowered his standard peripherals to a 3.64 ERA and a solid 1.13 WHIP. Heaney’s command has been impressive, with the southpaw collecting 111 punch outs against just 32 walks through 116-1/3 innings this season. Heaney allowed four runs on three hits (including a grand slam) over six innings in a loss to the Rays on May 19. Key Matchups: Daniel Robertson (1-3, HR, 4 RBI)