After sweeping the Seattle Mariners for the first time since 2012, three games to none, the Tampa Bay Rays make their way to San Diego, where they are set to begin a three-game Interleague series on Monday. The Padres took three-of-four from the Rockies over the weekend.
Although they have played well of late, the Padres have struggled offensively this season. Their .246 BA is 20th in the league, their .312 OBP is 23rd, while their .434 SLG is 17th. San Diego is also in the bottom third in runs scored, having plated 526 overall. They enter play 6-1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who currently hold the second NL Wildcard spot, however, the Padres are still seven games under .500 on the season, and have a sub .500 record at home.
The Rays won their last six games away from the Trop and have played well on the road. They also have an 11-4 record in Interleague play this season and are 35-16 against sub .500 teams. Tampa Bay’s pitching staff has performed like the should over the last week, maintaining a 2.78 ERA and 3.05 FIP overall. Much of their recent success is due in large part to the relief corps, which has been pretty good since the trade deadline, performing to a combined 1.03 ERA and 2.45 FIP. Taking National League rules into consideration, expect Kevin Cash to be bullish with the ‘pen at any given opportunity.
The Rays swept the Padres in three games the last time the two teams met in 2016.
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will throw Austin Pruitt (1-0, 5.16 ERA) behind an opener, Brendan McKay (2-2, 4.55 ERA), and Jalen Beeks (5-1, 3.71 ERA) presumably behind an opener. Andy Green will counter with Joey Lucchesi (7-6, 4.19 ERA), Eric Lauer (6-8, 4.51 ERA), and Cal Quantrill (5-3, 3.21 ERA).
Austin Pruitt was recalled from Triple-A Durham last Monday. In his most recent outing against Toronto, Pruitt allowed just two hits across two innings while striking out one. Still, the right-hander has thrown 20-2/3 unremarkable innings for Tampa Bay this season over seven relief appearances, maintaining a 5.66 ERA and an unsightly 18.2% strikeout rate.
Joey Lucchesi allowed two runs on five hits and a walk across 5-1/3 innings in a loss on Wednesday to the Mariners. He struck out eight. Lucchesi was unable to secure a quality start, as he was lifted after retiring the first batter of the sixth inning with his pitch count at 102. He has performed to a 4.19 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a 3.05 K/BB over 122-1/3 innings this season. Lucchesi relies primarily on a 91 mph sinker with little arm-side run and a whiffy 80 mph changeup that has surprising cut action, while also mixing in a 91 mph four-seam fastball with some natural sinking action. Key Matchups: Jesus Aguilar (1-2, BB), Guillermo Heredia (1-2)
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.
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)
Jalen Beeks allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks across 3-2/3 innings Friday. He struck out four. Beeks started for only the second time this season, although he wasn’t able to complete four innings in the appearance. He allowed RBI base hits to Domingo Santana in the third inning and Ryan Court in the fourth. The southpaw has a steadily increasing 3.71 ERA with 2.17 K/BB in 80 innings across 24 games this season.
Cal Quantrill allowed just five hits over seven shutout innings against the Rockies on Friday. He struck out five. It was the longest outing of the season for Quantrill, and the third time in his last five starts that he hasn’t allowed a run. The right-hander has allowed just five runs (three earned) across his last 29 innings of work, lowering his ERA from 4.83 to 3.21 in that span. Quantrill takes a 3.17 K/BB over 70 innings into his start in the series finale, on Wednesday. He relies primarily on a 95 mph sinker, a 95 mph worm-killer four-seam fastball, and a whiffy 87 mph Slider, while also mixing in an 85 mph changeup with cutting action and a lot of backspin.
— Jose Alvarado put down the only batter he faced for Triple-A Durham on Sunday. It is not yet clear if the right-hander will rejoin the team in San Diego or have additional outings in Durham.
— Blake Snell is expected to play catch on Monday for the first time since having bone chips removed from his throwing elbow. He is still on track to return in September.