Coming off a successful Opening Series, wherein the Rays took three-out-of-four from the Houston Astros, Tampa Bay welcomes the Colorado Rockies into Tropicana Field on Monday for a three-game series. The Rockies split their Opening series against the Marlins.
The Rays weren’t quite an offensive juggernaut against the Astros — scoring just 2.75 runs per game (on average). However, aside from Blake Snell, who allowed five runs on Opening Day, the pitching staff was phenomenal, giving the offense an opportunity to hold on to leads. Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, and Yonny Chirinos — who took the mound from Friday through Sunday — limited Houston to four runs, while the bullpen gave up nothing across 14 relief innings. At the end of the day, the Rays pitching staff held the high-powered Houston offense to nine runs and a .213 average.
And while Tampa Bay’s offense didn’t quite charge out the gates, Rays hitters took advantage of the opportunities presented to them, scoring eight runs with two outs. Michael Perez, Tommy Pham, Yandy Diaz, Austin Meadows, Ji-Man Choi, and Guillermo Heredia have led that charge, combining for the 11 total RBI.
Meanwhile, Colorado received bad news on Sunday, first baseman, Daniel Murphy, is headed to Injured List with a broken finger on his left hand. Murphy signed a two-year, $24-million free-agent contract with the Rockies in the offseason and is a career .299 hitter in 11 seasons.
Even so, t
Following the ballgame, Wendle headed for an MRI exam, which showed an injury that required at least a 10 day stint on the IL. To take his place on the active roster, the Rays recalled infielder Christian Arroyo from Triple-A Durham.
As Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) noted, the loss of Wendle will impact the lineup against right-handed pitching.
Losing Wendle impacts the Rays lineup against right-handed pitchers as he gave them a lefty hitting option at second base, shortstop or third base. While Arroyo has the versatility to play all three positions, he is a right-handed hitter.— Marc Topkin
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will probably lean on Ryan Yarbrough (16-6, 3.91 ERA), Blake Snell (0-1, 7.50), and Charlie Morton (1-0, 3.60 ERA). Bud Black will respond with Chad Bettis (5-2, 5.28 ERA), Kyle Freeland (1-0, 1.29 ERA), and German Marquez (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Ryne Stanek will open the game on Monday. The right-hander opened 29 games for Tampa Bay last season, and tossed two scoreless innings in his first relief appearance on Saturday.
Ryan Yarbrough has not been named as the official bulk innings guy for the series opener, however, since Yonny Chirinos threw seven innings on Sunday, and Jalen Beeks hurled 3-2/3 innings over the course of the weekend, it stands to reason that both likely won’t offer long relief on Monday. We all know what to expect out of Yarbrough by now, an 88 mph four-seam fastball that he moves around the zone — which also has heavy sinking action — an 85 mph cutter with strong cutting action, and a whiffy 82 mph changeup with arm-side fade. He also
Chad Bettis had a recurring blister on his right middle finger which forced him to finish last season in the bullpen. He also most recently was listed as day-to-day coming out of Spring Training. Nevertheless, the Rockies have a solid hurler when he is healthy. For example, last April Bettis went 3-1 and sported a 2.43 ERA. Bettis relies primarily on his 92 mph four-seam fastball that has heavy sinking action and a firm 87 mph changeup, while also mixing in a whiffy 88 mph slider (yet with little movement) and a 75 mph curveball with sharp downward bite.
Blake Snell looks to bounce back from a rough outing on Opening Day. Snell took the mound in the first inning and mowed over the first three hitters in order, all on 13 pitches (10 strikes) — coaxing a pair of pop-ups and getting Alex Bregman to chase a filthy 80 mph off-speed to cap the frame.
After Snell worked around a Gurriel single for a scoreless second inning, he was roughed up as Houston took the lead in the third. Snell walked Robinson Chirinos on a close full-count pitch before number nine hitter, Jake Marisnick, worked six-pitch free pass of his own. On the very next pitch, George Springer blasted a curveball over the center field wall for a two-run lead.
In the fourth inning, Michael Brantley paid Snell back for a second inning swinging strikeout, depositing a first-pitch fastball to right field, while Jose Altuve homered to left in the fifth.
I was happy with a lot of things I did. The only thing I was upset with was sequencing. I didn’t mix pitches like I should’ve been doing. I did it later, but to learn that, it took me giving up home runs.— Blake Snell
Last season, Snell allowed three homers only once, on May 13 against the Orioles, and two times when he allowed as many as five runs.
Snell is known for his repertoire of four pitches, yet on Thursday he leaned heavily on his fastball (35) and curveball (34) — 76% of the total number of pitches he threw.
I fell in love with the curveball and kept throwing it. It’s a good team, and that’s what they’re going to do. Frustrating, but a lot to learn. A lot to learn, and I’m happy about that.— Blake Snell
To his credit, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner was able to finish six innings on 91 pitches (55 strikes, 60% strike rate), although he allowed six hits and two walks while striking out just three. Snell did not strike a batter out over the final four innings.
Kyle Freeland limited the Marlins to two hits and just one run in seven innings on Opening Day. He struck out five and generated 12 ground-ball outs. His incredible .056 BABIP is well below his career norm, i.e. it’s a matter of time before the luck dragons swing back in favor of the opposition. He relies primarily on his 93 mph worm-burner four-seam fastball and a whiffy 89 mph cutter with strong cutting action, while also mixing in a 93 mph sinker with natural sinking action and a hard 87 mph changeup with natural sink and cut. Key Matchups: Guillermo Heredia (2-4, HR, RBI, BB), Tommy Pham (2-3, HR, 2 RBI)
Charlie Morton took the mound against his former team who he most recently played with for the past two seasons. The right-hander was amped up, hitting 97.9 mph on his fastball when he fanned George Springer for his first punch out of the season, setting the tone for the night.
From there, Morton threw two scoreless frames before Houston broke out on top in an erratic third by the hurler. Tony Kemp was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and then promptly swiped second. After George Springer struck out, Jose Altuve walked on a close full-count offering. Morton was able to strike out Alex Bregman, yet Michael Brantley lined a double down the right-field line, plating the only runs the Astros would score on the night.
However, a three-run rally put Morton on the winning side of the ledger.
All told, the right-hander went on to retire six of the last seven batters he faced — a series that began by fanning Yuli Gurriel, marking his 1,000th career strikeout. Morton relied heavily on his curveball — 34 thrown, 20 strikes 59% strike rate, 6 whiffs, 30% SwStr — with which he collected seven of his eight strikeouts.
German Marquez held Miami to two hits in six innings and fanned seven. His curveball (17 thrown, 9 strikes, 7 whiffs) and slider (22 thrown, 14 strikes, 12 whiffs) were especially effective. Marquez relies primarily on his 96 mph worm-killer of a four-seam fastball and a whiffy 86 mph slider, while also mixing in a hard 84 mph 12-6 curveball and a 95 mph sinker with sharp arm-side run.