The Tampa Bay Rays head home to Queens, where they will start a three-game series against their cross town rivals, the New York Yankees, on Monday. In all seriousness, seeing that I’m trying to get this done before a power outage (thanks Irma), what follows is a non-exhaustive and/or haphazard series preview.
After dropping three consecutive games — having been outscored 28-9 over that stretch — the Rays salvaged a 4-1 win against the Red Sox on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Yankees are coming off a 16-6 win over the Texas Rangers.
The Rays starting rotation has been a concern of late, although the bullpen seems to be in fine shape. If they continue to bandy about their postseason hopes, the Rays starting rotation has got to put up a fight over the next three games.
Tampa Bay’s biggest concern of late, well … aside from Irma, has been its offense, which again appears to be scuffling. I’d reckon that’s what happens when you hinge your production almost solely on the long ball.
Over the next three days Kevin Cash will throw Jake Odorizzi (8-7, 4.58 ERA, 5.75 FIP), Blake Snell (3-6, 4.36 ERA, 4.44 FIP), and Chris Archer (9-9, 4.00 ERA, 3.36 FIP). Joe Girardi will counter with CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.91 ERA, 4.61 FIP), Sonny Gray (3-4, 2.74 ERA, 4.06 FIP), and Jaime Garcia (0-2, 5.11 ERA, 5.58 FIP).
Odorizzi posted no-hit bid for 6-1/3 innings on Tuesday against the Twins, which Joe Mauer broke up with a single. It matched the longest no-hit bid of his career and was his first scoreless outing of at least 6-2/3 innings since July 29, 2016, ironically against the Yankees. The right-hander struck out the next batter he faced, but was lifted somewhat prematurely with 90 pitches under his belt. Whatever the case, Odo’s excellent start came at the right time, as he previously allowed 13 runs across 12-1/3 innings over his last three starts.
Sabathia cut down on the free passes in his last turn, issuing just one walk after allowing five in his previous outing. But perhaps the newfound zone pounding was a bird of ill omen for the swarthy southpaw, as the Orioles lit him up for five runs on eight hits, including three homers. In spite of the Yankees 6-5 win against the Rays on July 27, Tampa Bay tagged Sabathia for four runs on five hits and a walk. Key matchups: Peter Bourjos (5-17, 2B, RBI, BB), Lucas Duda (2-8, HR, RBI, BB), Adeiny Hechavarria (2-8, 2B), Kevin Kiermaier (4-10, 2 HR, 2 RBI), Evan Longoria (32-76, 9 2B, 8 HR, 17 RBI, 15 BB), Logan Morrison (2-5), Steven Souza Jr. (6-18, HR, RBI, 3 BB)
Snell allowed six runs on seven hits (including two homers) across four innings in a no-decision against Minnesota on Wednesday. He fanned seven and did not issue a walk. Snell reportedly did not feel like he used his fastball well enough, which resulted in the end of a career-long streak of five consecutive starts lasting six innings or longer. The 7/0 K/BB looks good in theory, however, Snell in the strike zone left a pair of pitches over the plate to Brian Dozier and Ehire Adrianza who made him pay with two homers. Be that as it may, he has posted a respectable 3.92 ERA since the All-Star Break.
Gray allowed one run (unearned) on six hits and two walks in Thursday’s win over Baltimore. He struck out five over 5-2/3 innings. Gray struggled his last time out, yet this time he pitched around eight baserunners to limit the damage. The right-hander — who limited the Rays to two-runs on seven hits over 6-1/3 innings on July 19 — is rebounding from his 2016 campaign with a 3.22 ERA/1.17 WHIP/8.6 K:9. Key Matchups: Corey Dickerson (3-11, HR, 3 RBI), Danny Espinosa (1-3, HR, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (3-12, 2B, HR, 3 RBI), Evan Longoria (10-26, 4 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB)
Archer did not fare well in his last start on Friday. The righty took a loss against the Red Sox, who plated eight runs despite tossing quality fastballs and sliders. He allowed 11 of the 20 batters he faced to reach base over his three-plus innings. In that outing Archer was coming off a start in which he allowed a pair of homers in Chicago due to right-lateral forearm tightness. He threw just eight pitches.
Garcia has been largely ineffective in his time with the Yankees, and because of it, he will make only his first start in two weeks on Wednesday. In five starts with the New York, Garcia is 0-2 with an unsightly 5.11 ERA, and he has yet to make it through six innings. This season the 31 year-old southpaw has relied primarily on a 91 mph four-seam fastball, and a 91 mph sinker — both of which are real worm killers. He’s also mixed in a whiffy 84 mph changeup, an 83 mph slider with arm-side run and depth, and a 75 mph curveball. Key Matchups: Lucas Duda (1-2, HR, RBI, BB), Danny Espinosa (8-21, HR, 2 RBI), Adeiny Hechavarria (5-10, 2B, RBI, BB), Logan Morrison (1-3, 2B), Trevor Plouffe (1-3)
— Lucas Duda will be making a homecoming of sorts, who will make his return to Citi Field for the first time since the late July trade to the Rays.