The Tampa Bay Rays head to the sardine can like confines of Fenway Park, on the heels of a series win against another fringe contender, the Detroit Tigers. If the Rays have any hopes of playing relevant baseball through September, and into October, they will need to continue playing as they had the in the previous three games — if not a cut above. There is no better time to start than now, when they’ll begin a three game set against a very beatable Boston Red Sox.
I’ll give it to the Red Sox, they were able to avoid a four game sweep by beating the ChiSox by a fairly large margin in the series finale on Thursday. However, that does nothing to deter from the fact that Boston is 3-7 over their last 10, and 4-11 over their last 15. And when you take a look at their offensive peripherals (below), one thing becomes glaringly obvious: the mighty David Ortiz and company really are no better than the offensively strapped Rays. Did I mention that they own the worst record in the American League?
As I reflected below, the Rays could be sellers at the non-waiver trade deadline, as the team is reportedly listening on Nathan Karns. However, as Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) wrote, It still seemed more likely that if they made a deal, it would involve a reliever, with RH Kevin Jepsen atop the list of candidates to be dealt. That being said, Kevin Cash has penciled in Erasmo Ramirez, Matt Moore, and Nathan Karns to start over the next three days.
Ramirez (8-4, 3.74 ERA) had a run of nine consecutive starts allowing two or fewer earned runs come to an end when he was touched for five runs and seven hits in 7-1/3 innings against the Orioles on Saturday. The righty yielded a grand slam in that start, although it should be noted that the slam was set up by two BABIP luck dragon hits, and a bad call by the home plate umpire. Moore (1-2, 7.61 ERA) struggled through five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks in a 5-2 loss to the Orioles on Sunday. Karns (6-5, 3.37 ERA) picked up his sixth win behind six strong innings Monday against Detroit, as he allowed one run on three scattered hits and no walks. He fanned three.
Eduardo Rodriguez: Rodriguez (6-3, 4.26) bounced back from a terrible outing by limiting the Detroit Tigers to one run and three hits in seven innings. The 22 year-old has allowed 22 runs over 10 innings in his three losses, and seven runs in 51-1/3 innings over his other eight turns. Rodriguez is making his first start against Tampa Bay and is 3-2 with a 5.35 ERA in six home starts.
Joe Kelly: Kelly (2-6, 5.94 ERA) is perennially just one adjustment away from being a solid starter. However, that one simple adjustment has evaded him this season, thus his gaudy ERA and 4.42 FIP (4.07 xFIP). The Rays blew him up to the tune of five runs on eight hits in his only start against Tampa Bay this season. Since that start, Kelly has allowed four runs or more eight times. A caveat: Cash is starting Moore opposite of Kelly. Key matchups: Asdrubal Cabrera (2-6), Logan Forsythe (1-2), Evan Longoria (1-3), Steven Souza Jr. (2-3, 2B, HR, RBI).
Wade Miley: After a pair of quality starts against the Astros and Angels, Miley (8-9, 4.65 ERA) crashed back to earth Tuesday, allowing seven runs in 5-2/3 innings against the White Sox. Nevertheless, Miley continued his streak of success against Tampa Bay on June 27, when the lefty held the Rays to two runs on five hits while fanning eight over 6-2/3 innings. Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (4-12, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Rene Rivera (4-10, 2B, 2 RBI).
— Asdrubal Cabrera is 5-for-8 with five runs scored in his last three contests.
— According to Topkin, Bobby Wilson has been claimed on waivers by the Rangers. The Rays also made it official, OF Mikie Mahtook has been recalled to fill the spot on the roster left in the wake of David DeJesus. Mahtook, who went 3-20 with two homers earlier with Tampa Bay this season, and is hitting .236 in 76 games at Durham, with two homers and 26 RBI.
— Pablo Sandoval (left wrist) left Thursday’s game after being hit by a pitch and is listed as day-to-day.