Blake Snell is coming off a quality start in which he gave up no runs, yet walked five. (Photo Credit: Unknown)

A pair of American League teams, that are off to disappointing starts, are set to start a three-game series in St. Petersburg, when the Tampa Bay Rays play host to the Texas Rangers starting Monday night.

Tampa Bay completed a three-game Interleague set with the Phillies on Sunday, yet were drubbed by Gabe Kapler’s crew for the second consecutive game, thus handing Philadelphia a three-game sweep. The Rays are now sitting in the basement of the American League with a 3-11 record. Meanwhile, after dropping five in a row, the Rangers won the last two games of their series against the Astros to improve to 6-11 on the season.

(Stats Credit: ESPN)

The Rangers took the season series in 2017, 4-2, sweeping a three game set at Tropicana Field from July 21-23, 2017.

(Stats Credit: FanGraphs)

Pitching Probables

Over the next three days Kevin Cash will lean on Blake Snell (1-1, 3.60 ERA), *Yonny Chirinos (0-0, 0.00 ERA), and Jacob Faria. Jeff Banister will counter with Martin Perez (1-1, 11.88 ERA), Matt Moore (0-3, 8.76 ERA), and Cole Hamels (1-2, 4.50 ERA).

(Stats Credit: FanGraphs)

Blake Snell allowed one run on one hit, yet five walks, over six innings on Tuesday against the White Sox. While Snell’s control was questionable, the southpaw had an otherwise great outing, punching out 10 batters. Talk about a bounce-back, in his previous two starts, Snell had struck out just seven combined batters over nine innings. After making three starts, Snell owns a respectable 3.60 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, but a shaky 4.73 FIP and a very lucky .182 BABIP.

Martin Perez took the loss after he allowed eight earned runs on nine hits and four walks across three innings. He struck out two. Perez has now given up 11 earned runs on 19 hits (including a pair of homers) and four walks over 8-1/3 combined innings. This season, the 27 year-old has relied on a 92 mph sinker, while also mixing in a firm 84 mph circle changeup, a 77 mph curveball, and a fly-ball inducing 91 mph four seam fastball. Key Matchups: CJ Cron (5-18, 2B, 3B, 6 RBI), Daniel Robertson (1-2), Jesus Sucre (1-2)

Yonny Chirinos allowed four hits and one walk 5-1/3 shutout innings on Wednesday against the White Sox. He fanned five. The right-hander has flummoxed big-league hitters over his first three MLB outings, throwing 14-1/3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox (twice) and White Sox lineups, and allowing just eight hits and a pair of walks, while striking out 12. His ground ball rate is a solid 50%, and his strikeout rate is a pristine 14.41 K/9 (9.00 K/BB). Should he start Tuesday — a starter for that game has yet to be officially announced — and if he again performs well, he will have made a good case for cementing himself in the starting rotation.

Matt Moore took the loss on Wednesday after he allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out two. The former Ray threw just 57 of 96 pitches for strikes (59% strike ratio), although Wednesday’s outing was the longest of the young season. …So that counts for something, right? In no uncertain terms, Matty Moe’s 8.76 ERA and 1.29 K/BB over 12-1/3 innings were not what the Rangers hoped for when they acquired him. Key Matchups: CJ Cron (1-3), Matt Duffy (1-3, HR, RBI), Denard Span (2-6)

Jacob Faria took a no-decision against the Phillies on Friday, although he gave up just one earned run on two hits over 5-1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out seven. It was a nice bounce-back for the right-hander, who was lit up for eight earned runs over just 1-2/3 innings by Boston in his previous start. He, however, still has issued more walks than strikeouts over his first 11 innings, with 10 free passes against nine K’s.

Cole Hamels came away with a no-decision in a loss to the Astros, after he allowed just two runs on six hits (including two solo homers) and two walks over six innings. He fanned seven. The two George Springer solo shots were the only blemishes on his line for the night. Hamels threw 68 of 106 pitches for strikes (64% strike ratio) in his first quality start of the season. Home runs are a problem for the southpaw — he’s now given up seven over 22 innings, overshadowing a 2.72 K/BB. Key Matchups: Matt Duffy (3-9, 3 RBI), Carlos Gomez (6-22, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Adeiny Hechavarria (11-29, 2B, 4 3B, 4 RBI, BB), Rob Refsnyder (1-1, BB), Denard Span (8-30, 2B, 2RBI, 4 BB), Jesus Sucre (4-6, 2B, 2 RBI)

Noteworthiness

— For a third straight season, Kevin Kiermaier will miss a significant number of games because of an injury, this time to his right thumb, after he sustained a torn ligament. Kiermaier will undergo surgery to repair the ligament and is expected to miss 8-12 weeks. An official announcement from the team is expected Monday afternoon.

The injury occurred after Kiermaier blooped a single in front of Phillies left-fielder Rhys Hoskins in his first at-bat. When Hoskins bobbled the ball, the centerfielder took off toward second base, diving headfirst and “jamming” his right thumb on the bag he tried not to slide past.

I go in there and I knew it was going to be a close play and just kind of got caught on the ground, and the thumb kind of got caught at a weird angle, Kiermaier said quietly in the Rays clubhouse while wearing a soft cast on his right hand.

It was one of those things where I thought I had a chance to overslide the bag, which I’ve done a couple times in my career, and I was just trying to hold on. I don’t know if that’s what made my thumb go at the angle it did, but I definitely thought I jammed it. I didn’t like the way my thumb felt after that as far as how it was looking and how it was moving.

He was pulled from the game in the top half of the inning after testing his thumb out, by gripping a ball, in the dugout.

It wasn’t right. We’ll get further tests tomorrow and final word what’s going to happen, but it’s just unfortunate, Kiermaier said. It’s just another freak accident. I can’t believe I’m saying this for a third year in a row now. The hardest part about all this is I feel like I let a lot of people down. My teammates, the community, coaches. I harped on this in spring training all year, I said I just want to stay healthy for my teammates and put my talents on display for a full year, and that’s in jeopardy right now.

Suffice it to say, no one in the clubhouse is too excited prospect of the Outlaw again being placed on the disabled list, including manager Kevin Cash.

He’s going to get an MRI (exam) tomorrow. Not too excited the potential of it, manager Kevin Cash said. I don’t want to get too far ahead of it, but he’s going to be out.

Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) noted that Mike Trout underwent a similar procedure last season, and bounced back within seven weeks:

Based on the similarity of the injury to what Angels star Mike Trout sustained last year on a similar play, that could mean an absence of at least seven weeks.

Kiermaier, though, injured the thumb on his right hand, which he uses to grip the ball to throw, and could mean a longer absence.  Trout tore the ligament in his left, non-throwing, hand, had surgery and came back with no issues.

Johnny Field, who made his big league debut on Saturday, stepped in for Kiermaier on Sunday. He could be considered a candidate to fill in for the Gold Glove winning centerfielder

It, however, seems likely that the team will shift Carlos Gomez from right to center. Another option could be to play Mallex Smith in center, although his defensive concerns might make him a liability in the biggest part of the park.

Topkin also listed the candidates that could take Kiermaier’s spot on the roster while he is on the mend:

As for replacing Kiermaier on the roster, the Rays could turn to lefty hitters Micah Johnson, who was impressive during spring training, or newly acquired Jeremy Hazelbaker, though either would also have to be added to the 40-man roster. Another option would be to call up prospect Jake Bauers, though he is primarily a first baseman and has not gotten off to a good start.

Another factor in the decision on the replacement is that lefty hitting Brad Miller is aiming to come off the DL by the end of the week, so either the Kiermaier replacement, Field or Rob Refsnyder would seem likely to go then.

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