Fighting to stay in the wild-card race, the Tampa Bay Rays should, ideally, be able to walk away from Detroit with a series sweep under the team’s collective belt. Tampa Bay starts the series 4-1/2 games back in the Wildcard race with 26 games left to go, so suffice it to say a series win, in the least, is crucial.
The Rays are set to face one of the most inconsistent pitching staffs in the majors. And while Tampa Bay dropped two-of-three to the Yankees, due in part to a disappointing 6-4 loss in the series finale on Sunday, Detroit continues its late-season swoon. The Tigers are coming off a 4-0 loss to the Indians ― their third shutout loss while dropping 13 of the last 16. The last-place Tigers, who are now a season worst 12 games under .500 at 62-74, are 10-19 versus the AL East, having been outscored 182-111 in those games.
Kevin Cash will throw Drew Smyly (2-2, 3.11 ERA), Erasmo Ramirez (10-5, 3.84 ERA), and Jake Odorizzi (6-8, 3.35 ERA) on the mound over the next three days. Smyly, who will face the Tigers for the first time since being dealt last season, gets a chance to put together strong consecutive outings for the first this season. The lefty matched a season high 10 strikeouts while limiting Baltimore to four hits in seven shutout innings of an 11-2 victory Tuesday. In his two victories since coming back from the DL, Smyly hasn’t allowed a run in 12-2/3 innings. Ramirez struggled Wednesday night in a no-decision against the Orioles. After the Rays took a 4-0 lead in the top of the third, he allowed Baltimore to tie the game with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Odorizzi took his eighth loss of the season Friday against the Yankees when he allowed five earned runs on a season-high three home runs ― the only hits he allowed in 6-2/3 innings.
Tampa Bay took two-of-three from Detroit in a July series at The Trop.
Randy Wolf (0-3, 6.11): Wolf has received zero runs of support in three starts since being called up last month. The lefty was hammered for eight runs in 3-2/3 innings of a 12-1 defeat at Kansas City on Wednesday. Wolf has dropped five straight starts dating back to a 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay on June 2, 2014, when he limited the Rays to one run in six innings. Key matchups: Evan Longoria (1-3), Daniel Nava (1-1).
Matt Boyd (1-5, 8.36 ERA): Boyd’s struggles to put away hitters in two-strike counts is taking a toll. He, most recently, posted a six-run, three-out start at Kansas City. Opponents are batting .417 (25-60) off him when he’s ahead in the count. Boyd, who has never faced Tampa Bay, relies primarily on his 92 mph four seam fastball, while also mixing in an 80 mph slider, a 79 mph change-up, and a 72 mph curveball. He rarely throws a 90 mph sinker, and an 87 mph cutter.
Kyle Lobstein (3-6, 5.02 ERA): Lobstein returned from the DL on Friday and allowed six runs on eight hits over 4-1/3 innings against the Indians. Like Boyd, the 26 year-old lefty, who relies primarily on his 87 mph sinker Sinker (87mph) and and 87 mph four seam fastball, has not faced the Rays. Lobstein also mixes in an 82 mph slider, an 80 mph change-up, and a 76 mph curveball.
― Logan Forsythe is hitting .538 with a 1.379 OPS during a seven-game hit streak.
― Ian Kinsler is 3-7 with a homer versus Smyly.
― Miguel Cabrera has gone 10 games without a homer and is hitting .194 in that span.