The Rays’ offense hasn’t shown any letup even though the pitching staff has regressed. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After dropping two of three to the Mets, and six of the last 10 games overall, the Tampa Bay Rays look to bounce back at home, where they start a three-game series against the Brewers on Friday. The Brewers most recently dropped two of three to the Cardinals.

At 32-13 on the season, the Rays enter play 19 games over .500 and in first place in the AL East by 3.5 games over the Orioles. At 24-19 on the season, the Brewers enter play one game up on the Pirates in the NL Central.

While Tampa Bay labored on the road across the previous three series, they are thriving at home, entering this series with a 19-3 record under the big top. Considering that they just dropped two straight to conclude a losing road trip through New York and Baltimore, the Rays should warmly embrace their homecoming.

The relief corps has been scuffling of late — over the last seven days, the relievers have put up a combined 6.19 ERA and 6.32 FIP, with an ugly 66.0% LOB, a 1.24 WHIP, a 2.58 HR/9, and a 2.94 K/BB. The club undoubtedly need to give the bullpen a break, and it’ll be up to Shane McClanahan (Friday) and Zach Eflin (Saturday) to pitch deeply into their respective contests.

Offensively, there’s not much the Rays haven’t done well. Look at any stat, and if they’re not first, they’re almost certainly in the top 10. Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco, and Yandy Díaz — who’s missed the last few games while nursing a groin injury — form a three-headed monster at the top of the lineup, while Isaac Paredes, Josh Lowe, and Harold Ramírez are also hammering the ball. Brandon Lowe appears to be heating up again, which is a nightmare for opposing hurlers.

Entering this series, Milwaukee is 11-11 on the road. While a .500 road record won’t sink the ship, it certainly isn’t helping them as they slog it out with the Pirates for the top spot in the division. Pitching and defense are the primary concerns for the Brewers. In only one more road inning pitched compared to home, the Brewers have allowed 22 more runs in away games.

Offensively, the Brewers’ slugging dips dramatically on the road as well, dropping by 73 points compared to their home number. Milwaukee is coming off a rough series in St. Louis and is down to 21st in runs per game this season. And while there are positives, such as the ninth-most stolen bases and the sixth-highest walk rate, Milwaukee’s offense has mostly struggled, especially outside of American Family Field.

The Rays will be seeking revenge, as they dropped all four games against the Brewers last season.

Pitching Probables

Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will turn to Shane McClanahan (7-0, 2.34 ERA, 3.86 FIP), Zach Eflin (5-1, 3.38 ERA, 3.50 FIP), and a pitcher to be named before the series finale. Craig Counsell will counter with Adrian Houser (0-0, 5.19 ERA, 3.88 FIP), a pitcher to be named before Saturday’s contest, and Freddy Peralta (4-3, 4.11 ERA, 3.91 FIP).

Shane McClanahan allowed four runs on five hits and four walks over four innings against the Yankees. He struck out three. McClanahan was his usual dominant self through four shutout innings, but he allowed the first five batters to reach in the fifth, yielding a pair of two-run homers to Aaron Judge and Kyle Higashioka. The southpaw finished with season highs in walks and runs allowed while submitting season lows in innings and strikeouts, so it was easily his worst performance of the campaign. McClanahan now sports a 2.34 ERA and a 3.86 FIP, with a 1.22 WHIP, and 2.54 K/BB through nine starts (50 innings).

Adrian Houser allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out two batters over four-plus innings against Kansas City on Saturday. Houser was somewhat fortunate to have escaped the outing with just three runs on his ledger, as he allowed multiple baserunners in each of his four full innings. He remained in the contest to start the fifth but was yanked after allowing a leadoff solo homer to Salvador Perez. Houser didn’t fool many batters, coaxing just five swinging strikes, and he needed 88 pitches to get just 12 outs. He’s failed to impress through his first two starts, allowing five runs and 15 hits over 8.2 frames. All told, he owns a 5.18 ERA and a 3.88 FIP, with a 1.96 WHIP, and a 3.50 K/BB. Houser relies primarily on a 93 mph worm-killer sinker that has slight arm-side run and a 94 mph fourseam fastball that has some natural sinking action, while also mixing in an 83 mph slider, an 85 mph splitter that has some natural sink to it, and an 80 mph curveball with exceptional bite. Key Matchup: Francisco Mejía (1-3)

Zach Eflin allowed four runs on seven hits and a walk over six innings against the Yankees. He struck out nine. Eflin was charged with four runs in the third inning on a pair of two-run homers from Oswaldo Cabrera and Anthony Rizzo. The 29-year-old right-hander has now surrendered eight runs in his last two outings after allowing just seven runs in his first five starts this season. Eflin still sports a solid 3.38 ERA and a 3.50 FIP, with a 1.08 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/BB through 40 innings on the season. He is 2-2 with a 4.18 ERA in five career starts against the Brewers.



Freddy Peralta allowed six runs on six hits and five walks while striking out four batters over 5.1 innings against the Cardinals. Peralta fell behind early, surrendering a three-run homer to Nolan Arenado in the first inning, although he rebounded to allow just one more run over his following four frames. Be that as it may, his outing ended after he put two of the first three batters on base in the sixth, with both runners eventually coming around to score. Peralta had been pitching well coming into the contest, notching three straight quality starts during which he allowed just five runs while posting a 4.6 K/BB over 18 innings. All told, he maintains a 4.11 ERA and a 3.91 FIP, with a 1.30 WHIP, and an 2.63 K/BB through 46.0 innings on the season. Peralta relies primarily on a whiffy 95 mph fourseam fastball that has some natural sinking action and an 82 mph slider that sweeps across the zone, while also mixing in a 76 mph 12-6 curveball, and an 89 mph changeup that has slight arm-side fade and some natural sink to it. He is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in one career start against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Christian Bethancourt (1-2), Yandy Díaz (1-2, HR, 2 RBI), Harold Ramírez (1-4)

The Music That Influenced This Preview

Blasting out of Milwaukee, Big Laugh plays a brand of hardcore that sounds like a cross between Heresey and Youth of Today. Pretty damn good, if you ask me.