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Series Preview: Wil Myers returns to the Trop.

Philadelphia Phillies v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Rays will take on the San Diego Padres in a series that features the return of Wil Myers. He won’t be the only former Ray making the trip to St. Petersbur: Tuesday night’s starter is former Ray Edwin Jackson. The Padres enter the series 3-6 in their last nine games facing teams from the National League East.

Matchups:

Monday: Luis Perdomo vs Drew Smyly

Tuesday: Edwin Jackson vs Blake Snell

Wednesday: Christian Friedrich vs Chris Archer

The Padres starting rotation has been a big weakness.

The Padres spent the last year tossing away everything that isn’t nailed down after a disappointing 2015. Right after the All-Star game the Padres traded their best starter Drew Pomeranz to the Red Sox, and earlier this season they shipped off former Ray James Shields to the White Sox, so it’s not surprising that their starting pitching has been shaky.

Luis Perdomo began the season in the bullpen, but he’s been primarily used as a starter more recently. In his twelve starting appearances he has thrown 68 innings of 5.56 ERA and 4.51 FIP baseball. He’s posted a below average 16.8% strikeout rate and walks fewer than average at 6.4%. He’s had a problem with the longball, allowing a 20.0% homerun per fly ball rate. As a starter he’s allowed a .313/.371/.476 line and .360 wOBA to opposing batters.

Edwin Jackson was a member of the 2008 Rays team that played in the World Series. On June 25, 2010 he threw a no hitter against the Rays. Since being picked up by the Padres he has had a successful five starts. He’s thrown 32.1 innings of 3.62 ERA and 3.91 FIP baseball. Three starts ago he had a his only really bad outing as he allowed six runs over five innings to the Reds. His other four have been quality starts, providing a boost to a Padres rotation that has had a problem throwing innings in quality or quantity.

Christian Friedrich has made 12 starts after throwing out of the bullpen last year for the Rockies. He’s been roughly replacement level as he’s put up -0.1 RA9 WAR by allowing a 4.84 ERA, but fWAR likes him as a league average starter as he’s put up 1.0 fWAR over 87.1 innings due to a 4.30 FIP. Friedrich’s posted a low strikeout rate, 16.8%, but he hasn’t been able to avoid walks as he’s walked 9.3% of batters faced. As a left handed pitcher he’s probably happy that the Rays traded Steve Pearce and Brandon Guyer.

Padres bullpen hasn’t put up good results and is overworked.

The Padres bullpen has posted the sixth highest ERA in baseball at 4.29. They have thrown the fourth most inning outs of the bullpen at 405 innings. The Padres bullpen has thrown 61.1 more innings than the Rays.

Former Ray Fernando Rodney was having an incredible season for the Padres, but they traded him to the Marlins.

Brandon Mauer has taken the closer job since the Rodney trade. He hasn’t been good at avoiding runs as he’s allowed a 4.80 ERA, but has posted a 3.82 FIP. He has managed to pick up five saves.

Ryan Buchter and Brad Hand have been very effective. The lefties have high strikeout rates and walk rates. Both have allowed ERAs below 3.00.

Janikowski, Dickerson, and Schimpf have been real bright spots.

Wil Myers is having a breakout season after losing most of last year to a nagging wrist injury that eventually required surgery. He has largely transitioned from outfield to first base with some success. He’s hitting .276/.353/.498 and 131 wRC+. If he can stay healthy he’s looking like he could be the middle of the order bat everybody was expecting him to become.

Travis Janikowski can fly. He’s put up a league average line of .254/.369/.330 over 235 plate appearances. He’s picked up 25 stolen bases in his limited time. Just the throw the man strikes. He’s walked 14.5% of the time, but only has a .076 ISO. Force him to hit to get on base.

Alex Dickerson is having an impressive 135 plate appearance run. He’s old as a 26 year old rookie. He’s hitting .280/.319/.528 and 124 wRC+. He’s hit seven homeruns in his very limited exposure.

Ryan Schimpf has been going off for the last couple of months. The left handed batter has hit .224/.348/.565 and 142 wRC+ over 178 plate appearances with 12 homers. He’s an extremely old rookie at 28, but he’s been a good story.

Rays are currently 2.5 games ahead of the Padres in the race for worst record in MLB.

The Rays currently possess the third worst record in MLB and thus the third overall pick in the draft next season. This series will likely play a big role in whether they get closer to the number one pick or pick up momentum that will see them outside of the top five.

The biggest story for the Rays this series is seeing how Blake Snell rebounds from his first bad outing.

Only three homestands remain for the Rays as they look to close out the 2016 season and answer questions how they will look to alter the roster over the off season.