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Series Preview: Rays look to keep the ball rolling in Texas

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays leave Minnesota victorious in four straight road series and winners of eight of their last twelve. The Texas Rangers are coming off a victory against the Blue Jays after suffering five straight defeats.

Yesterday the Rays were forced to use their whole bullpen to cover ten innings in the fifteen inning marathon game. Erasmo Ramirez came in to close the game and will pick up the start tonight. The Rays have called up Jose De Leon to give the bullpen a fresh arm.

The Matchups:

Monday 8:05 PM: Erasmo Ramirez vs Martin Perez

Tuesday 8:05 PM: Matt Andriese vs Nick Martinez

Wednesday 8:05 PM: Chris Archer vs TBA

The Rays avoid Yu Darvish.

Martin Perez has been a bright spot for the Rangers rotation. Only Yu Darvish and A.J. Griffin have posted strikeout rates north of 16.0% and it looks like the Rays will avoid both.

Martin Perez is having a very effective season. He has posted a 3.77 ERA and 3.73 FIP. His strikeout rate is up to 16.0%. His walk rate is up to 9.2%. The biggest difference has been a drop to 7.5% HR/FB rate. The lefty allowed three runs in his last start against the Red Sox in 6.1 innings. Last year he made two starts against the Rays and they put up nine runs in 9.0 innings.

Nick Martinez is what you expect out of a replacement level starter. In seven starts he’s thrown 40.1 innings of 4.69 ERA and 5.20 FIP baseball. Martinez has only struck out 13.4% of batters, but he has limited the walk rate to 5.2%. He is susceptible to the longball as he’s allowed a 15.4% HR/FB rate. In his last start he allowed four runs in five innings against the Red Sox. Last August he made an appearance out of the bullpen against the Rays where he allowed one run in 1.1 innings.

The Rangers bullpen has the highest ERA in the majors.

The Rangers lead the league with a 5.04 ERA. Their 4.41 is better, but isn’t good. Their 19.6% strikeout rate is second lowest in baseball.

For a team that has lost a lot recently their bullpen comes in relatively under worked. Only Sam Dyson and Matt Bush have thrown more than 11 pitches over the past two days without a single pitcher throwing in both games.

Matt Bush has continued his dominating performance from last year with a 1.02 ERA and 2.40 FIP.

Josh Leclerc and Alex Claudio have performed well with ERAs under 2. Claudio has been fortunate as he has a low strikeout rate and high HR/FB rate.

Adrian Beltre could make his 2017 tonight.

Adrian Beltre injured his calf at the end of the World Baseball Classic. He hasn’t played a game yet and a decision will be made whether to activate Beltre before the start of the series.

The Rangers are hitting .238/.311/.411 and 92 wRC+.

Joey Gallo has been their best hitter by wRC+ at 118 despite a batting average below .200. He has 15 homers on the season.

Nomar Mazara (106 wRC+), Shin-Soo Choo (105 wRC+), Carlos Gomez (102 wRC+), and Elvis Andrus (101 wRC+) are the other positive contributors with the bat.

Rougned Odor has really struggled since getting off to a hot start. He’s hitting .210/.262/.360 and 62 wRC+ through 214 PA.

Mike Napaoli has also struggled as he’s hitting .194/.263/.411 and 71 wRC+.

The Rays look to keep the ball rolling.

Today’s job will be tough to make it through the game after the fifteen inning game. Jose De Leon should make his Rays debut this evening with Erasmo Ramirez limited by having to throw an inning yesterday afternoon.

The Rays are one game above .500 and the Rangers have fallen to one game below .500.

The Rays look to continue their streak of winning three game series. The light at the end of the tunnel of 48 games in 50 days is almost there. After this series the Rays schedule will be become much more manageable especially for the bullpen.