Despite losing to the Mariners Saturday night, 7-6, the Tampa Bay Rays did something they haven’t consistently over the last few weeks — hit the ball with authority.
Granted the team couldn’t overcome the early hole that Jake Odorizzi — and if we are being honest with one another, Kevin Cash — put them in, however, in an ideal world, that may be the spark of life they need moving forward. A moral victory if you will. The Rays start the day five-games under .500, yet four-games out in the Wildcard standings.
On Odorizzi and Cash…
Odorizzi has now allowed 15 runs (10 earned) in two starts this season against Seattle, while lasting a total of six innings. Jake was not sharp from the get-go last night, which attributed to a lack of life in his fastball and having no feel for his release point.
— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) August 20, 2017
That Jake struggled to throw the ball was obvious to all of us in the stands, in the dugout, or watching at home. The Mariners had lots of loud, hard contact against the right-hander (20.7% soft, 34.5% medium, 44.8% hard), who got into trouble early on; Odorizzi threw 29 pitches in the first inning alone, including an 11-pitch at-bat with Robinson Canó.
It also should be noted that Odorizzi’s fastball (which averages out at 92mph) regularly sat at 89mph last night.
As if a third inning grand slam wasn’t enough, Kevin Cash allowed Odorizzi to take the mound again in the fourth despite his issues with command, presumably because he didn’t want to go to the bullpen that early. There of course is irony in that: six-hitters, three-runs and two-outs later, Cash pulled Odorizzi in favor of Chase Whitley.
Last night both Odorizzi and Cash knew what was on the line, yet the Rays skipper ignored the fact that Jake was hurling nothing more than 89mph batting practice fastballs, and allowed him to carry on at the detriment of the team.
Bullpen now active. All of the contact against Odorizzi has been loud, and Cash SHOULD have had someone up in the bottom of the third.
— X-Rays Spex (@XRaysSpex) August 19, 2017
The Rays entered play last night just three-games back in the Wildcard race, and had Odorizzi been pulled earlier, they would have exited the Trop two-games back on the heels of a massive momentum building come-from-behind win. But Cash being Cash didn’t want to lean on the bullpen early — which he did anyway — and here we are Sunday morning still waiting for the great leap forward — from the team, Cash, and Odorizzi.
Rays acquire OF Cesar Puello, Faria headed to the 10-day DL
The Rays made a flurry of moves following the game last night and this morning, placing Jacob Faria on the 10-day disabled list with a left abdominal strain (retroactive to 8/17), and acquiring OF Cesar Puello from the Los Angeles Angels. Faria said he’s dealt with left abdominal pain for several starts, and doesn’t think he will be on the shelf for long.
The #Rays have placed RH Jake Faria on the 10-day DL with a left abdominal strain retro to 8/17.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 20, 2017
The Rays skipper also set the rotation for the upcoming series with the Blue Jays, with Chris Archer, Austin Pruitt, and Alex Cobb slotting in on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The team will have to make a 40-man roster move before game time Thursday in order to activate Cobb from DL. With the off-day on Monday, Archer and Pruitt will take the mound on regular rest.
Puello, who was recently designated for assignment by the Angels, is a corner outfielder that bats from the right-hand side of the plate. The 26 year-old posted solid numbers in the Pacific Coast League (split between the Rangers and Angels Triple-A affiliates), performing to a .327 BA/.377 OBP/.526 SLG/.903 OPS line in 329 plate appearances, with 13 home runs, 66 runs scored, and 61 runs batted in.
Puello has a favorable history against left-handed pitchers in the minors, although his numbers have been split this season. Since he is out of options, it will be interesting to see how Tampa Bay moves around its roster pieces once Faria returns from the DL.
The New What Next
Blake Snell (1-6, 4.78 ERA, 4.84 FIP) will take the mound for the Rays this afternoon, pitching opposite of Yovani Gallardo (4-8, 6.41 ERA, 5.50 FIP).
Snell battled through six innings in his last turn. And even though he allowed four earned runs, manager Kevin Cash said it might have been Snell’s best start of the season because of his ability to come up big the last inning when his team needed it. After Snell gave up an early run on a fluke double, the left-hander locked it in and forced weak contact while keeping hitters off balance with his mix of pitches, including some particularly deadly off-speed stuff. As with his previous start, Snell played off his live fastball (53 thrown, 32 strikes), then followed with a pretty good changeup (30 thrown, 21 strikes) — both of which he moved around the zone.
Gallardo, the 31-year-old right-hander, is 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA over his past three starts. He lasted just four innings with eight runs and two homers in his previous start against Baltimore. The former Oriole/Ranger/Brewer is 3-2 with a 4.71 ERA in seven career starts against the Rays. He has not faced Tampa Bay this season. Key Matchups: Corey Dickerson (5-13, 2B, HR, 4 RBI), Lucas Duda (5-13, 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Adeiny Hechavarria (2-8), Brad Miller (5-15, 2 2B, 3B, 3 BB), Trevor Plouffe (5-17, 2 HR, 3 RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (3-10, 2B, 2 RBI)
Rays 8/20/17 Starting Lineup
Souza Jr. RF