The Rays head up to Boston to take on the Red Sox for this mid-week showdown. Boston comes in off a split of a four game series against Toronto that ended in a disappointment, for them, on Patriots' Day.
Tuesday: Drew Smyly vs Joe Kelly
Wednesday: Chris Archer vs Rick Porcello
Thursday: TBA (Any way this isn't Jake Odorizzi?) vs David Price
Kevin Cash went out of his way to say that they know who is starting (hence TBA -- to be announced -- as opposed to TBD -- to be decided), but they are not saying. The date would put Odorizzi on the mound with an extra day of rest. The Rays will have to throw a bullpen day or Erasmo start again this week and it is an outside possibility. So it could be that Cash and co. want to wait and see how rested the bullpen looks on Thursday, or it could be that they just want to mess with their opponents a bit. And who can fault them for that?
Red Sox Starting Pitching vs Opposite Handed Batters (last 3+ seasons):
The Rays have two good opportunities to turn on some offense against two mediocre pitchers in Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello. After signing the 4 year $82.5MM extension at the beginning of last season Porcello failed to live up to expectations as he posted an ERA of 4.92. The peripherals behind it looked much better as he had a 4.13 FIP, but has had trouble keeping base runners from scoring as he only left 67.5% on base (69.6% career).
Thursday the Rays face their former leader of their own rotation, David Price. This is an interesting match-up with the Rays very aggressive approach. It's one of those games that I can see either outcome of him getting hit pretty hard as the Rays offense takes advantage of him being around the strike zone or Price delivering a less than 100 pitch complete game shutout.
The Rays should have the advantage on the mound in the first two bouts, but the advantage turns to Boston for game three. How big that advantage may be depends on whom the Rays start. If Odorizzi takes his turn in the rotation, no idea why he wouldn't, he could be required to stay pitch for pitch with Price as he did on Friday night against Chris Sale.
Red Sox Relivers:
Toronto did the Rays a favor by working the back end of the Red Sox bullpen on Monday morning's game. Koji Uehara started the inning trying to hold the Red Sox 1-0 lead, but would be a complete disaster as he allowed a leadoff single, two walks, a hit by pitch, and would record his only out while allowing the tying run to score. Uehara would be taxed by being forced to throw 25 pitches in his 0.1 innings of work. Craig Kimbrel to throw 23 pitches as he tried to keep the game tied 1-1 when he entered the game with the bases loaded with one out.
Uehara and Kimbrel would both pitch in three of the four games against the Blue Jays. Huge thanks to Toronto for making at least the path to victory on Tuesday much easier.
Vs Right Handed Hitters:
As a right handed hitter you likely won't want to see Kimbrel and Uehara in the game. Tazawa has been a reliable pitcher out of the pen, but the rest of the pen is fairly weak.
Vs Left Handed Hitters:
Uehara is a really tough pitcher against left handed hitters; Tommy Layne can be equally tough. Robbie Ross is a lefty out of the pen that has had fairly equal trouble in getting left and right handed batters out.
Red Sox Batters:
|Jackie Bradley, Jr.||822||14||14||8.4%||27.9%||0.215||0.289||0.348||0.283||73|
The Red Sox offense to this point in the season has been carried by David Ortiz (.306/.444/.694, .471 wOBA, 217 wRC+), Travis Shaw (.342/.432/.553, .426 wOBA, 184 wRC+), and Brock Holt (.267/.405/.533, .407 wOBA, 170 wRC+).
Hanley Ramirez has seen a rebound to start the season with a .306/.327/.469, .334 wOBA, 115 wRC+ start to the season. Ramirez was an adventure in left field last year for Boston and the Rays might have played a part in his disastrous -1.8 fWAR season when he injured his shoulder. Reports are he's doing well acclimating to first base.
Avoiding the landmines in the lineup will be a key for the Rays pitchers. Keeping Mookie Betts (.222/.236/.370, .263 wOBA, 63 wRC+) quiet will also be important.
Time for the Rays bats to come alive.
The Rays bats have a chance to continue building off of their solid weekend against John Danks and Jose Quintana. The Rays move to a much more hitter friendly environment and the weak Red Sox pitching could provide the perfect opportunity for some productive offense.
I like the Rays chances in this series as they'll probably be favorites in two of three. Even Thursday's match-up against David Price could go their way when the Rays aggressive offense faces off against a pitcher who likes to throw strikes.