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Series Preview: Price Returns

Former Rays lefty David Price takes on current Rays lefty Blake Snell tonight at the Trop

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays
Hey, Red Sox, you don’t scare me!
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a series victory against the American League leading Rangers, the Rays look to play spoiler against the Red Sox, currently tied in the loss column with the Blue Jays for the American League East title. The Rays have won six of their last seven games and the Red Sox are coming off a four game series split against the Tigers.


Monday: David Price vs Blake Snell

Tuesday: Clay Buchholz vs Chris Archer

Wednesday: Rick Porcello vs Matt Andriese

Thursday: Drew Pomeranz vs Jake Odorizzi

Red Sox rotation has been very top heavy

David Price has been disappointing by ERA, but most of his peripherals show him to be a very effective pitcher. He’s had trouble with homers as the 13.9% homeruns per fly ball rate is the highest of his career by a large margin. His 24.0% strikeout rate and 5.2% walk rate, which are in line with his career averages. He’s a guy that is always around the zone; on his off days he is maybe too much around the zone. This will be the fourth match-up against Price this season for the Rays, and they have scored zero, four, and eight runs in the previous three.

Clay Buchholz has been a disaster this year. In 15 starts he’s put up a 5.95 ERA and 5.99 FIP. He’s only striking out 14.1% of batters while walking 9.6%. He’s coming off one of his best starts of the season when he allowed one run on six hits while striking out three and not allowing a walk over six innings against the Tigers.

Rick Porcello has been the Red Sox best performing pitcher who doesn’t throw knuckle balls. He’s posted a 3.22 ERA and 3.69 FIP. He’s striking out a career high 20.6% of batters while walking a career best 4.2% of batters. He’s also allowed a 11.2% homerun per fly ball rate which is a tick better than his career 11.7% rate. He’s been really fortunate as he has a well below average .267 after running above average rates for his whole career. He’s on a really good stretch in August as he’s allowed a 2.10 ERA over four starts while throwing at least seven innings in each start.

Drew Pomeranz was Boston’s big acquisition to help solidify the rotation behind David Price, Rick Porcello, and Steven Wright. His Red Sox career didn’t start off too well, though, as he allowed five runs in two of his first three starts. His last four starts have been much better as he’s only allowed six runs over 24 innnings (2.25 ERA). He’s allowed at least one homer in all seven starts with the Red Sox. Pomeranz has shown very little split this year as he’s allowed a .269 wOBA to left handed batters and a .274 wOBA to right handed batters.

Red Sox haven’t gotten what they have expected out of Craig Kimbrel

During the winter the Red Sox made a big deal to bring Craig Kimbrel to Boston. He’s been good, but not great. The Brad Ziegler acquisition has helped stabilize the bullpen while Kimbrel dealt with time on the disabled list.

Craig Kimbrel has a 3.12 ERA and 2.70 FIP. His 38.0% strikeout rate is around where he’s been the last three years, but his walks have spiked up to 12.7% which would be highest since his rookie year. He’s picked up 22 saves and only blown two.

Former Diamondbacks closer Brad Ziegler has been a tremendous help while the Red Sox bullpen has dealt with injuries. He’s posted a 2.35 ERA and 3.02 FIP. In 15.1 innings he’s struck out 26.9% of batters after never posting a rate higher than 20% in his career. He’s walked 9.0% of batters which isn’t great, but he has brought a 65.9% ground ball rate.

Red Sox lead the league in runs scored

The Red Sox have put up 677 runs. That’s just a shadow over 5.5 runs a game. The Red Sox lineup is deep, young, and very talented. They have eight hitters with over 100 plate appearances that have put up 100 wRC+ or better.

The offense is led by David Ortiz and Mookie Betts. Ortiz has hit .320/.412/.635 and put up a 169 wRC+. I will be extremely excited to not have to face him in the future. Mookie Betts has put up a .314/.355/.561 line and 139 wRC+. He’s hit 28 homeruns and they seem to come in bunches as he had his second three-homerun game of the season last week.

Andrew Benintendi has been crushing the ball since his call up earlier this month. He’s hitting .322/.375/.492 and 130 wRC+ with one homer through 64 plate appearances.

The Red Sox offense has been equally impressive against right handed pitchers (116 wRC+) and left handed pitchers (115 wRC+).

Seven of the next ten games are against the Red Sox.

The Rays will play a major role in who wins the American League East. The Red Sox are currently one game behind the Blue Jays in the win column. If the Rays continue playing well they are capable of winning the series and putting the Blue Jays in the driver’s seat should they win the games in front of them.

Many of the Rays greatest moments have involved the Red Sox with the 2008 ALCS Game 7 victory and Game 162 as the two greatest moments in Rays history. The Rays might not be playing a postseason berth this year, but they can have a hand in keeping the Red Sox out of first place.