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After an ugly series loss against the Baltimore Orioles, the Tampa Bay Rays return to the friendly confines of Tropicana Field, where they will start a two-game series against the Marlins on Tuesday. The Marlins dropped two of three against Atlanta over the weekend.

At 24-17 on the season, the Rays enter play seven games over .500. Miami enters play at 18-22 on the season, four games under .500.

The Orioles dashed the Rays’ dream of coming home from this brief three-game road trip eight or nine games over .500. Yet, while Tampa Bay’s offense left a lot of chicken on the bone, hitting .224 with runners in scoring position, it was the bullpen that sank their battleship. Put differently, the Rays are averaging over four runs per game, while the Orioles are averaging just over three runs per game. Tampa Bay scored exactly six runs in each game of the series over the weekend, and with the vaunted pitching staff the Rays boast, combined with the team’s offensive proclivity, there is exactly no reason why they shouldn’t have come home with a series win in the very least.

Neither Wander Franco (quad tightness) nor Yandy Díaz (left shoulder strain) started the last two games, yet neither have been placed to on the Injured List. Meanwhile, Manuel Margot (right hamstring) could be activated from the IL on Wednesday if all goes well.

And while Miami lost the series against Atlanta, they are coming off a win in the final game of the set. The pitching staff was strong, allowing only three runs which led to the one-run victory. Marlins’ pitching has been strong all season giving up 3.78 runs per game. The top offensive player for the Marlins has been Jazz Chisholm, who has hit seven home runs and driven in 27 RBI. Chisholm, however, left Sunday’s game with left hamstring tightness. UTL INF Joey WendlE is currently on the IL with a right hamstring injury. 

With a pair of stingy pitching staffs set to face off against one another, expect a low scoring series … especially when Shane McClanahan faces off with Pablo Lopez on Tuesday.

The Rays went 5-1 against the Marlins last season while outscoring them 32-21.

Pitching Probables

Over the next two days, Kevin Cash will turn to Shane McClanahan (3-2, 2.33 ERA), and Drew Rasmussen (4-1, 2.33 ERA). Don Mattingly is expected to counter with Pablo Lopez (4-1, 1.57 ERA), and Trevor Rogers (2-5, 5.20 ERA).

Shane McClanahan got the start Tuesday and posted seven strong frames for the third time this season, and a second consecutive start, allowing just a run on four hits while striking out seven. The left-hander threw 63 of 90 pitches for strikes (70% strike rate) and coaxed 18 whiffs. The only damage McClanahan incurred came on Jeimer Candelario’s first-pitch homer to lead off the fifth inning. He maintains a 2.33 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP on the season, with a 6.50 K/BB across 46.1 innings.

Pablo Lopez gave up three runs on four hits and three walks over three innings on Wednesday against the Nationals. He struck out two. The right-hander needed 82 pitches (44 strikes, 54% strike rate) to record just nine outs in his shortest outing of the season, while the three walks and two strikeouts were both season-worst performances in those categories. Despite the stumble, Lopez still boasts a stellar 1.57 ERA and a 2.29 FIP, with a 0.91 WHIP, and a 4.36 K/BB through 46 innings. He relies primarily on a 93 mph four-seam fastball with heavy sinking action and a whiffy 87 mph worm-killer changeup, while also mixing in a whiffy 89 mph cutter with heavy sink, and a 93 mph sinker that has some natural sinking action. Lopez is 1-2 with a 3.27 ERA in four career starts against the Rays. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (1-2), Kevin Kiermaier (1-4, 2 RBI, BB), Francisco Mejia (1-1, BB)

Drew Rasmussen allowed four hits and no walks while striking out seven across five scoreless innings Wednesday against the Tigers. Rasmussen allowed two hits in the first inning but proceeded to retire 12 of the last 14 batters he faced. He recorded more than five strikeouts in a start for only the second time this season, which was backed by an impressive 20 swinging strikes across 87 total pitches (61 strikes, 70% strike rate). Rasmussen has now allowed one run or fewer in each of his last five starts, spanning 26.2 frames. Overall, he’s maintained a 2.33 ERA and a 2.71 FIP, with a 4.25 K/BB across 38.2 innings.

Trevor Rogers coughed up five runs on eight hits — including three home runs — and two walks over four innings on Friday against Atlanta. He struck out five. The southpaw served up homers in each of the first three frames before finally getting the hook after 88 pitches (54 strikes, 61% strike rate). Rogers has not been able to duplicate his 2021 breakout, and his numbers are getting worse. He’s been tagged for six homers in 18.2 innings over his last four starts, matching his total through 133 innings all of last season. Rogers maintains a 5.20 ERA and a 4.69 FIP, with a 1.51 WHIP, and a mediocre 2.27 K/BB through 36.1 innings on the season. He relies primarily on a 94 mph four-seam fastball that has some natural sinking action and a firm 85 mph changeup that dives down and out of the zone, while also mixing in an 80 mph slider that sweeps across the zone. Rogers is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in one career start against the Rays. Key Matchup: Randy Arozarena (2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI)