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Series Preview: The Ortiz Farewell Tour is Even Longer than an Ortiz Homerun Trot

Good riddance.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Red Sox head to Tropicana Field for the Rays final home series of the season. The Red Sox have won eight in a row including a four game sweep of the Orioles that has likely locked up the AL East. They have a 5.5 game lead over the Blue Jays with nine games to play.

The Matchups:

Friday: Drew Pomeranz vs Chris Archer

Saturday: Rick Porcello vs Matt Andriese

Sunday: Eduardo Rodriguez vs Jake Odorizzi

Rays avoid Price, but face Porcello

The Rays start the series facing the left hander Drew Pomeranz. He hasn’t been nearly as good as he was with the Padres (2.47 ERA and 3.13 FIP), but that was to be expected: he has a less than stellar 4.91 ERA and 4.91 FIP in 62.1 innings over 12 starts. He has made two starts against the Rays and has gone 6 and 6.2 innings while allowing two and three runs. He’s coming off two starts where he hasn’t made it through four innings and allowed at least four runs.

Rick Porcello is one of the favorites for the AL Cy Young this year with a 21-4 record — not that it should matter but still will hold weight with voters. But he’s more than just lucky wins: he has a 3.08 ERA and 3.43 FIP. His 20.9% strikeout rate is a career high and his 3.5% walk rate is a career best. In a year when homers are being hit at a historic rate he has put up a 9.7% HR/FB rate, second lowest of his career. He’s faced the Rays five times this season and made it through six in every outing and allowed three runs on three occasions and one run twice.

Eduardo Rodriguez has had an up and down season after a successful rookie year last year. The Rays lit him up for nine runs in 2.2 innings at the Trop in June. He was sent down to the minors after the start and been much better since his return. He’s made 12 starts with a 3.21 ERA and 3.81 FIP. The Rays haven’t been as good against LHP in the second half, so he’s in a much more favorable spot than he was earlier in the season when they faced off.

The Red Sox bullpen has been lights out in September

The bullpen has been Zach Britton-like in September with a combined 0.83 ERA and 2.49 FIP over 54.1 innings. Their middle and backend pen hasn’t allowed a run. Only their low-leverage guys, Heath Hembree, Noe Ramirez, and Fernando Abad, have allowed an earned run.

Craig Kimbrel, Brad Ziegler, and Koji Uehara have thrown a combined 19.2 innings while not allowing an earned run. Let’s hope they are due for some regression.

The Red Sox offense can score runs in bunches

The Red Sox have scored a league leading 850 runs (5.56 runs per game). However they have been more good than elite outside of Fenway with 382 runs scored (4.90 runs per game). During their current eight game winning streak the Red Sox have scored five plus runs in each game.

In the second half of the season Hanley Ramirez has really found himself at the plate as he’s leading the Red Sox offense with a .300/.357/.631 line and 156 wRC+. He is joined by Mookie Betts (150 wRC+) and David Ortiz (141 wRC+) as the big threats.

Say goodbye to Ortiz

The Rays look to continue to try out some news, guys and get players like Corey Dickerson on a good trajectory to end the year. The Rays have been hit by injuries to guys who would otherwise be getting playing time. Fortunately none of these injuries are likely to impact next season, which is what really matters.

I wish the Rays would have stuck with the original plan of skipping a pregame ceremony and gift for what’s his name. Apparently the Rays players requested a send-off. To my mind, there is a difference between acknowledging a surefire Hall of Famers and well respected sportsmen like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and going through the same motions for a player known for temper tantrums and staredowns (and implicated in PED use).