Evan Longoria was supposed to play as the designated hitter today, but he was scratched from the lineup a little bit less than two hours before game time due to flu-like symptoms. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, other players in the clubhouse have also been affected by the bug.
Joey Butler will take Longoria's place as the designated hitter.
Twenty-eight games into the 2015 season, the Tampa Bay Rays have held their own against their division rivals in the American League East. With a 15-13 record, the Rays currently are in second place in a relatively balanced division.
After taking two of three games from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Tampa Bay Rays return to Tropicana Field to open a seven game homestand. The three game weekend series against the Texas Rangers will be their first games against a non-division team since the mid-April series against the Miami Marlins. The Rays will send Chris Archer to the mound to face off against the Rangers second-year right-hander Nick Martinez.
New #Rays lineup: Kiermaier cf, Souza rf , Loney 1b, Forsythe 3b, DeJesus LF, Butler DH, Beckham SS, Elmore 2b, Wilson c, Archer p— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) May 7, 2015
- Jake Elmore gets the start at second base; his first since April 25th.
- James Loney celebrates his 31st birthday at first base and batting in the three-hole.
.@nickmartinez10 gets the start in tonight’s series opener vs. the Rays at 6:10 CT. http://t.co/CNxkgrfZzg pic.twitter.com/Ymjs9qLxSC— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) May 7, 2015
- Shin-Soo Choo has a been on a 'hot streak,' recording a hit in all six games in May. He has raised his batting average from 0.96 to .154 during his six game hit streak.
After a rookie campaign that featured a 4.55 ERA in 140 innings, Nick Martinez has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. In five starts and 32 innings, the 564th overall pick in the 2011 draft has only allowed three earned runs. His 0.84 earned run average is the second best in the major leagues. His run prevention can be credited, in part, to his ability of limiting the long ball. In his 32 innings of work, Martinez has yet to give up a home run.
It is unclear whether or not Martinez’s transformation is legitimate. However, there seems to be a few indications that his approach has significantly changed since last year. Martinez relied heavily on his four seam fastball in his rookie campaign, throwing it around 63% of the time. On the other hand, he only threw his slider at about 15% of the time. Here is a table with pitch outcomes courtesy of Brooks Baseball:
Martinez has increased the use of the slider significantly this season. He throws it more than 25% of the time, regardless of the count on the batter. Meanwhile, he has reduced the frequency of his four seam fastball to 46.5%. Compared to last season the number of ground balls induced by Martinez has gone up significantly, while the number of flyballs and line drives allowed have decreased.