Yandy go boom! (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After a 3-2 road trip, the Tampa Bay Rays return to the friendly confines of the Trop, where they will start a three-game series against the Red Sox on Monday. The Red Sox bounced back from a blowout loss to take two of three from the Royals over the weekend.

At 83-54 on the season, the Rays enter play 29 games over .500 with 25 games left to play.

Despite two frustrating losses to start the series in Cleveland, the Rays offense stepped up to the challenge in a winnable series, putting up 15 runs (and averaging five runs per game) against a solid Guardians’ pitching staff. Over the last week, Tampa Bay has slashed .265 BA/.332 OBP/.414 SLG/.746 OPS with a 110 wRC+.

Even though they were downed 13-2 in the series opener against the Royals, the Red Sox put up 18 total runs over the weekend. Be that as it may, Boston has slashed a meager .238 BA/.315 OBP/.395 SLG/.710 OPS over the last seven days, with a sub-average 90 wRC+.

The Rays enter play with an overall 3.81 ERA and 3.82 FIP (3.75 ERA and 3.56 FIP for the starters, 3.89 ERA, and 4.13 FIP for the relievers). Over the last seven days, Tampa Bay has put up an improved 2.31 ERA and 2.57 FIP (3.21 ERA and 3.19 FIP for the starters, and a 0.96 ERA and a 1.65 FIP for the relievers).

Meanwhile, Boston’s pitching staff has performed to an overall 4.53 ERA and 4.43 FIP (4.74 ERA and 4.65 FIP for the starters, 4.30 ERA, and 4.17 FIP for the relievers). The pitching staff has been, frankly, awful over the last seven days, pitching to a combined 7.81 ERA and a 5.75 FIP (8.10 ERA and a 6.09 FIP for the starters, 7.58 ERA and a 5.48 FIP for the relievers).

The Rays are 7-1 against the Red Sox this season with a +20 run differential.

Pitching Probables

Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will turn to Aaron Civale (7-3, 2.64 ERA, 3.32 FIP), Zach Eflin (13-8, 3.40 ERA, 3.07 FIP), and Tyler Glasnow (7-5, 3.17 ERA, 2.98 FIP). Alex Cora will counter with Brayan Bello (10-8, 3.57 ERA, 4.46 FIP), Kutter Crawford (6-7, 4.08 ERA, 4.07 FIP), and James Paxton (7-5, 4.50 ERA, 4.69 FIP).

Aaron Civale allowed two runs on seven hits over five innings against Miami. He struck out five without issuing a walk. Civale found himself in a bases-loaded jam in the first inning but managed to escape the frame, limiting the damage to just a run. He also gave up a solo homer to Jazz Chisholm in the third inning and would eventually exit the game down 2-1 after five. In his nine second-half starts, the right-hander now owns a 2.72 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and a 4.88 K/BB across 49.2 frames.

Brayan Bello allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks over 4.2 innings against the Astros. He struck out two. After allowing just two runs over his previous two starts, Bello found himself in a two-run hole after surrendering back-to-back homers to Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez in the first inning. Bello rebounded with three scoreless frames before the Astros added an unearned run in the fifth. Overall, the right-hander sports a 3.57 ERA and a 4.46 FIP, with a 1.28 WHIP, and a 2.94 K/BB across 23 starts (131 innings) on the season. Bello gave up three runs on six hits and a walk against Tampa Bay the last time he took the mound versus the Rays. Key Matchups: Jonathan Aranda (2-2, RBI), Randy Arozarena (1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Yandy Díaz (5-7, 2 2B, RBI, BB), Josh Lowe (2-8, 2B, 3 RBI), Luke Raley (1-4, 2B, BB)

Zach Eflin pitched 6.1 scoreless innings against Miami on Wednesday, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out four batters. Eflin prevented the Marlins from putting on more than one baserunner in any frame. The right-hander notched his third straight quality start and was very efficient with just 69 pitches over 6.1 frames. Eflin lowered his season ERA to 3.40 (with a 3.07 FIP) thanks to the outing, and he’s already set a career-high with 13 wins. He’s bounced back well from a three-inning, six-run dud against Cleveland on August 13, posting a 1.47 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and a 9.5 K/BB over 18.1 frames over his subsequent three starts.

Kutter Crawford surrendered six runs on seven hits and a walk over 2.2 innings against the Astros. He struck out only one. After a calm 1-2-3 first inning, Crawford quickly fell apart and got the hook after 46 pitches. The right-hander hadn’t given up more than three runs in a start since July 21, but the sour ending to August leaves him with a 4.73 ERA and a 5.09 FIP on the month despite a 1.28 WHIP, and 3.25 K/BB through 26.2 innings. Crawford is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in one start against the Rays this season. Key Matchups: Jonathan Aranda (2-3, 2B), Christian Bethancourt (1-3), Brandon Lowe (1-4, HR, RBI)

Tyler Glasnow allowed three runs on seven hits over seven innings Friday against the Guardians. He struck out six. Glasnow gave up one run through six innings before coughing up a pair in the seventh. He’s given up eight earned runs over his last 19 innings, raising his season ERA from 3.01 to 3.17 (but a 2.98 FIP) in the process. However, he owns a 2.50 ERA across 68.1 innings in his last 11 turns. Glasnow carries a 4.44 K/BB on the season.

James Paxton allowed six runs on five hits and two walks over 1.1 innings against the Royals on Friday. Paxton gave up a pair of solo home runs in the first inning before the Royals tagged him for four more runs in the second. He’s thrown just 9.2 total innings while allowing 16 earned runs over his last three starts, and his season ERA has jumped from 3.34 to 4.50, with an unsightly 4.69 FIP, over that stretch. Paxton relies primarily on a 95 mph fourseam fastball that has some natural sinking action, while also mixing in an 81 mph 12-6 knuckle curve, a hard 86 mph 12-6 slider, and an 85 mph swing-and-miss changeup. Key Matchups: Yandy Díaz (4-11, 2B), Brandon Lowe (1-2, HR, RBI)


— Perhaps it’s sheer laziness on our behalf, but we didn’t make mention of the most recent Tampa Bay Rays roster transactions. RHP Jason Adam (oblique) was placed on the 15-day injured list retroactive to August 31, 2023. He doesn’t anticipate staying on the IL much longer than the minimum. RHP Taj Bradley was recalled from the Durham Bulls and started Sunday’s contest against the Guardians. Recently acquired RHP Chris Devenski was activated from the bereavement list. Left-hander Jalen Beeks was optioned back to Triple-A, and RHP Kevin Kelly was activated from the IL.