The Tampa Bay Rays are coming off their first series loss of the season, thanks in part to their sluggish 4-for-18 performance wRISP (overall), in Kansas City. They’ll start a three game interleague series against the Reds in Cincinnati, Friday. The Rays may have struggled with offensive production in their previous series, BUT the Reds certainly aren’t lighting any fires themselves, having gone 7-for-30 in their previous series against the Cardinals. Much like the Rays of late, it’s been difficult for the reds to get anything going. The offense has, as a whole, really struggled, while the bullpen has already experienced a number of painful blow-ups (six meltdowns, tied for 4th in baseball). The Reds lead Tampa Bay 8-1– the Rays’ worst record against any team. The Reds swept the Rays in a three-game series back in 2005, scoring 34 runs. The last time Tampa Bay faced Cincinnati (2011), they dropped two of three, scoring all of seven runs while relinquishing 12.
Johnny Cueto: The Rays faced Johnny Cueto back in June of 2011 at the Trop. In that game, Cueto posted 7-2/3 strong innings, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk along the way. Much like Octavio Dotel, Cueto has a simple and quick delivery, with a 3/4 arm angle. His delivery is clean and easy with some deception. He has good fastball command, an above-average changeup, and isn’t afraid to pitch to contact. His mid-90’s fastball has cut and sink, while his changeup has average fade and sink — though he throws it often, and with conviction and great command, which plays it up.
Alfredo Simon: Many on the Rays are familiar with the one-time Oriole, RHP Alfredo Simon. The 33 year-old fastball/cutter/splitter/slider pitcher went 6-4 in 2013, with a 2.87 ERA in 87-2/3 innings of work out of the bullpen. With the exception of his first start of the 2014 season, Simon had pitched out of the ‘pen for the last few seasons. Posting a 2.42 K/BB in 2013, the ground ball pitcher can be a bit erratic from time to time. It’ll be interesting to see how he’ll fare Saturday. Key match ups: Yunel Escobar (2-7, BB), Evan Longoria (4-13, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB), Jose Molina (1-2, 2 BB), Sean Rodriguez (4-9, 2 2B0.
Tony Cingrani: Despite Cingrani’s big frame, he has a smooth and controlled motion. He has a high release point which allows him to have a good amount of cut on his fourseam fastball, leading to batters swinging over the top of the pitch. His curveball has big, 11-5 sweeping movement, and he throws it with confidence to both lefties and righties. He has a slider as well as a changeup, both of which he seldom throws.
- Per Stats LLC, Tampa Bay (5-5) has totaled six runs and batted .194 while losing three of four, including Wednesday’s 7-3 defeat in Kansas City. The Rays are 4 for 29 with runners in scoring position in that span and hitting .211 in such situations overall.
- The Rays and Matt Moore are waiting for more tests, on his left elbow, to be read. For now, they’re going to call his injury a strain, then wait and see. Moore plans to wait three to five days, then will play catch to see how his elbow feels. A decision on how to proceed will be made then. Part of the waiting, is to have the team doctor (Koko Eaton) compare the two MRI’s and make a determination of whether the damage is new, or old and inflamed. In any case, Marc Topkin writes, “chatter in the Rays clubhouse is that Bedard is coming up but, Ramos is starting Sunday. Should hear official word soon.” Said Moore, “If there’s any pain, it’s not going to be something I’m going to try and work through,” Moore said. “I think the goal is to get to a place where I don’t feel pain. And if I can get to that in the next few days just playing catch, then it’s a good sign to keep going. If not, then it’s a sign in the [other direction]. I’m optimistic about playing catch.”
- Reliever Jeff Beliveau was optioned back to Triple-A Durham after Thursday’s game. In kind, they have called up OF Kevin Kiermaier at least for the first two games of the weekend series in Cincinnati under NL rules.
- Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park and Dodger Stadium are the only two current major-league parks in which the Rays have never won.