After taking two of three from the Angels in Anaheim, the Tampa Bay Rays will cap their penultimate road trip of the season in Los Angeles, where they’ll face the Dodgers in a brief two-game series. The Dodgers are coming off a series win against the Mets.
The Rays are coming off a 13-game stretch of play in which they faced four sub .500 ballclubs. Over that span, Tampa Bay won nine and dropped four, although they easily could have gone 11-2. Regardless, the Rays scored at least five runs eight times, while the pitching staff relinquished 46 runs overall, good for a combined 3.54 ERA and a 3.20 FIP.
Meanwhile, despite scoring an overall average of 5.42 runs per game — good for fifth in the Majors — the Dodgers are in the throes of a tepid stretch of play in which they’ve averaged 4.5 runs per game over the last 14 contests. Still, the L.A. pitching staff sports a 3.41 teamwide ERA, a 3.60 FIP, and have performed to an 18.4 fWAR in 2019 — good enough for second in the big-leagues behind the Astros. They are a dominant 56-20 at home.
That’s not to discredit the Rays pitching staff, who maintain a teamwide 3.75 ERA and a 3.82 FIP, and have performed to a 17.5 fWAR this season. They’ve also gone 46-30 on the road and have the third-best combined batting average in the league at .258.
Tampa Bay continues to cling on to a Wildcard position, holding a 1-1/2 game lead ahead of Cleveland, who will start a three-game series against the less than formidable Detroit Tigers. To say that this series is important to the Rays goes without saying.
The Rays and Dodgers split a two-game set at the Trop earlier in the season, although Tampa Bay outscored Los Angeles 11-8.
Kevin Cash will throw Blake Snell (6-7, 4.28 ERA) and Brendan McKay (2-4, 5.27 ERA) on Tuesday and Wednesday. Dave Roberts will counter with Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.40 ERA) and Tony Gonsolin (3-2, 2.83 ERA).
Blake Snell, who’s been sidelined since undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery at the end of July, will open the ballgame for the Rays. The left-hander isn’t stretched out all the way yet, but he’s on track to throw around three innings. In two rehab appearances with Triple-A Durham, Snell tossed 2-2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on two hits and a pair of walks while throwing 52 total pitches (21 strikes, 40% strike rate).
Ross Stripling allowed one earned run on three hits and no walks while striking out two across three innings Wednesday against the Orioles. Stripling will act as an opener and will likely be on a pitch count (he’s now thrown 31, 36 and 37 pitches across three appearances since returning from the Injured List), although he’s been effective in that role, throwing eight shutout innings while striking out six. Over his career, Stripling is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA across four innings against the Rays. Key Matchups: Guillermo Heredia (1-1), Kevin Kiermaier (1-1, 2B), Austin Meadows (1-2)
Brendan McKay gave up three earned runs on six hits across 3-1/3 innings, striking out two and walking two. After dominating the Blue Jays in an abbreviated 3-2/3 inning start his last time out, McKay couldn’t carry it over to this contest. The southpaw has shown flashes of brilliance this season, although his overall numbers remain pretty “meh”, with a 5.27 ERA and 1.45 WHIP across 42-2/3 innings.
Tony Gonsolin tossed three innings in his last outing and allowed one run on two hits while striking out four. Gonsolin was expected to follow Rich Hill after two innings, but the Dodgers were forced to bridge the gap with two additional relievers after Hill left after retiring only two batters. Gonsolin was unphased, allowing a solo home run to Pedro Severino but otherwise limited Baltimore to a single while whiffing four across three innings. The 25-year-old has been good in eight appearances, posting a 2.83 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 3.1 K/BB across 35 innings. Gonsolin relies primarily on a 93 mph four-seam fastball and a firm 86 mph splitter with a lot of backspin and arm-side run, while also mixing in an 88 mph 12-6 slider, and an 81 mph 12-6 curveball with sharp downward bite.