After dropping two of three to the Blue Jays in Toronto, and two of the last three series overall, the Tampa Bay Rays return home to the friendly confines of the Trop, where they will start a four-game series against the Tigers on Thursday.
At 90-56 on the season, the Rays enter play 34-games above .500 and 8.0 games up in the division with 16 left to play.
It has not been an easy six days for Tampa Bay, who won just two of their last six games. And while the Rays put up 18 runs on the Tigers last weekend, the Rays were only able to muster a total of six runs versus the Blue Jays pitching staff. In all fairness, the Tigers only managed five runs against Milwaukee, yet their pitching staff relinquished one lone tally.
Over the last 14 days, Detroit and Tampa Bay have almost been mirror images of one another, although the Tigers have been luckier in where their hits have fallen into play. Tampa Bay might have to score a bunch of runs to keep things close with a Detroit team that’s firing on all cylinders. They certainly have the bats to do that though.
Expect another set of games where the Rays are going to have to scratch and claw their way to victory unless they can figure out Detroit’s pitching staff … whose recent success is due, in large part, to the fact that A.J. Hinch is more than willing to limit exposure to his hurlers which, in turn, stops the opposition from timing them up and mounting threats.
Over the next four days, Kevin Cash will turn to Dietrich Enns (1-0, 3.38 ERA), Luis Patiño (4-3, 4.62 ERA), Ryan Yarbrough (8-5, 5.27 ERA), and likely Drew Rasmussen (2-1, 3.25 ERA). A.J. Hinch will counter with Tyler Alexander (2-2, 4.09 ERA), Casey Mize (7-8, 3.66 ERA), Tarik Skubal (8-12, 4.21 ERA), and Wily Peralta (3-3, 3.32 ERA)
Dietrich Enns dominated the Tigers over four frames on Saturday. The only base runner he allowed came on a Taylor Walls error. The southpaw struck out six and threw 44 of 59 pitches for strikes (75% strike rate), and earned his first career win. On the season, Enns maintains a 3.38 ERA and a 1.73 FIP, with a 1.19 WHIP and a 3.80 K/BB across 16.0 innings.
Tyler Alexander allowed one run on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts across 4.1 innings against Tampa Bay on Friday. The left-hander yielded the first run of the game on a Joey Wendle RBI single in the fifth inning. He’s pitched to a decent 4.09 ERA and a 4.50 FIP, with a 1.27 WHIP, and a 3.30 K/BB across 83.2 innings on the season. Key Matchups: Nelson Cruz (4-9, 2 2B), Yandy Díaz (1-1, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (1-2, 3B), Brett Phillips (1-1), Joey Wendle (1-1, RBI, BB)
Luis Patiño gave up two runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts across 4.1 innings on Sunday against Detroit. The right-hander turned in another short start, but the Rays’ offense was able to get him off the hook after he exited down 2-1. Patino’s ERA is at 4.62. while his FIP sits at 4.72, with a 1.37 WHIP, and 2.41 K/BB through 64.1 innings this year.
Casey Mize allowed three runs across two innings on Saturday against the Rays. He gave up three hits and a walk while striking out two. Mize struggled in the second inning, allowing all three of his earned runs, and the Tigers shut down the right-hander with just 48 pitches on his ledger. The team is being cautious with Mize, who has now tossed 140.1 innings this season after recording just 28.1 during his big-league debut last season. Overall, Mize maintains a 3.66 ERA and a 4.84 FIP, with a 1.14 WHIP, and a 2.70 K/BB across 140.1 innings on the season. Key Matchups: Nelson Cruz (2-3), Kevin Kiermaier (1-1, 3B, RBI), Joey Wendle (1-1, 3B, RBI)
Ryan Yarbrough coughed up seven runs on 10 hits and a walk across 2.1 innings relief innings against Toronto on Monday. He struck out one. The southpaw entered the game in the third inning, after Collin McHugh, and while he was able to wiggle out of the jam McHugh left for him, he didn’t have the same luck in the fourth or fifth frames. Yarbrough needed 77 pitches (46 strikes, 60% strike rate) to record just seven outs, and he’s been tagged for seven earned runs in back-to-back turns while giving up at least five in five of nine outings since the All-Star Break. He owns a 7.50 ERA and a 4.76 FIP, with a 1.52 WHIP, and a 3.00 K/BB through 42 innings over that stretch.
Tarik Skubal allowed a hit and a walk while striking out six over three scoreless versus Tampa Bay on Sunday. The left-hander has now seen short starts in his last two turns, throwing just 49 pitches (34 strikes, 69% strike rate) Sunday after a 50-pitch appearance the week before. Skubal has been fairly effective, although A.J. Hinch is likely to manage the 24-year-old’s workload the rest of the way. He maintains a 4.21 ERA and a 0.00 FIP, with a 1.27 WHIP, and 3.48 K/BB through 139 innings on the season. Key Matchup: Randy Arozarena (1-2)
Shane McClanahan, in his last start before he hit the 10-Day Injured List 11 days ago, spun five shutout innings against Boston, yielding just three hits and a walk while striking out three. After surrendering four runs to the Red Sox in his prior start, McClanahan bounced back nicely, allowing just three singles. He was pulled after five innings despite having thrown only 68 pitches (44 strikes, 65% strike rate). On the season, McClanahan maintains a 3.59 ERA and a 3.23 FIP, with a 1.30 WHIP, and a 3.76 K/BB across 110.1 innings of work.
Wily Peralta blanked the Brewers across six innings on Tuesday. He allowed two hits and a pair of walks while striking out five. Peralta was able to pitch deep into the ballgame after lasting just four innings in each of his first two turns since returning from the Injured List. The 32-year-old has put together a 3.32 ERA and a 4.98 FIP, with a and 1.26 WHIP, and a 1.69 K/BB across 76.0 innings. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (1-1, 2B, 2 RBI), Brandon Lowe (2-3, HR, 2 RBI)