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Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays at Arizona Diamondbacks

Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks
We want this for our new stadium!
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The road trip continues as the Rays leave the land of lakes for the Arizona desert, where their pretty good offense gets to play in one of the best offensive parks in the majors. Of course this means that their struggling pitchers need to play there as well.

The Diamonbacks and the Rays should be pretty evenly matched, if their records are any indication. Both teams have won 25 games, although the Diamondbacks have four more losses. While the Rays recovered from their sweep at the hands of the Royals with a series win in Minnesota, the D-backs have just lost five of their last seven games.

Pitching Match-ups

Monday: Chris Archer vs. Robbie Ray

Tuesday: Matt Moore vs Zach Greinke

Wednesday: Jake Odorizzi vs Archie Bradley

Rays offense looks to launch against Arizona starters.

The matchup Monday night is a good one for the Rays. Robbie Ray is a lefty that has had a homer and walk problem, the Rays are a lefty-mashing team that hits a lot of home runs. His 4.74 ERA has only been slightly elevated compared to his 4.44 FIP. He has only had one good start where he held the Giants scoreless through six innings on April 19. Right handed hitters have crushed Ray to a .291/.391/.494 line.

After a rough start to the season (as evidenced by his inflated 4.29 ERA), Zach Greinke has started to perform like the Diamondbacks were expecting. Greinke is coming off a strong start against the Astros where he allowed zero runs in seven innings. Greinke has been much worse at home as he’s allowed 31 runs over his seven home starts (6.54 ERA).

Archie Bradley is coming off the best start of his career as he allowed one run over six innings against the Cubs while striking out ten. Bradley has been a hyped prospect for a few years. His 4.94 ERA is higher than his 3.50 FIP would suggest.

The Diamondback bullpen has been solid.

The Diamondbacks bullpen is led by four strong performers in Brad Ziegler, Daniel Hudson, Tyler Clippard, and Jake Barrett.

Brad Ziegler has been effective at preventing the long ball as the closer for the Diamondbacks. He has a low 13.3% strikeout rate that he combines with a below average 10.5% walk rate, but has posted a 3.00 ERA. He’s not your traditional high octane closer, but he has gotten he job done.

Daniel Hudson has been really productive in the setup role with a 23.3% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate. Hudson has only allowed four earned runs in 23.2 innings of work. Left handed batters have had much more success as they’ve hit for a .231/.318/.385 line.

Tyler Clippard has been good in the backend of the bullpen in his first season with the Diamondbacks. The veteran is posting his second highest strikeout rate at 30.7%. Right handers have traditionally done more damage against Clippard and this year is no exception as he’s allowed a .282/.372/.474 line.

Jake Barret has been productive in his first major league stint. He’s striking out 22.5% of batters faced and only walking 5.6% of batters. In his small major league sample left handed batters have fared much better as he’s allowed a .257/.350/.543 line over 40 batters faced.

The Diamondback offense has been disappointing.

On the position player side the Diamondbacks took a big hit in spring training as they lost A.J. Pollock for the year. Pollock was coming off a 6.6 fWAR year where he hit for a .315/.367/.498 line while providing above average defense in center field.

Paul Goldschmidt continues to be the Diamondbacks biggest offensive threat even in a down year for him. He’s batting .261/.421/.462, walking in 20.8% of plate appearances, but is hitting for less power and average than he has in the past. He’s still their biggest threat and the Rays pitchers need to make other players beat them.

Jake Lamb has been the second major threat on offense while hitting .270/.350/.524. Lamb is having a breakout as he’s hit ten homers in 214 plate appearances, matching his career total in over 500 plate appearances entering the season.

Chris Hermann has been hot with the bat as he’s hitting .293/.353/.554 over 103 plate appearances. Hermann has found playing time at catcher and center field.

Longoria is in a zone where he can carry a team offensively.

Rays come in on a three game winning streak and need to continue picking up series wins to chip away at the lead in the division. Evan Longoria is coming off one of his best series in a long time as he hit five homers in the four game series in Minnesota. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Longoria go into "Lean on Me" mode, but it is really a thing of beauty.

The trip out west will lead to some late nights, but hopefully the Rays can close some ground while awaiting Logan Forsythe’s return.