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Rays vs Reds Preview: Paint the town

Alex Cobb takes the mound in hopes of knocking the wind out of the Reds’ sails.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

So, yesterday didn’t go great.

After riding high from their two-win series split in Detroit, where the Rays managed to knock the Tigers down to fourth place in the AL Central, they were hoping a match-up against the flailing Cincinnati Reds would be just what the doctor ordered to help bolster the team’s numbers. Too bad the last-place NL Central team wasn’t willing to go down easy.

In the first game of the series, the Reds won 7-3, and it was decidedly not the greatest outcome the Rays could have hoped for, especially not on their home turf.

Tonight, Alex Cobb will face off against Amir Garrett. This is an ideal matchup for the Rays, as Garrett is struggling of late and Cobb has bested the Reds once before. Ideally if the offense could show a little more of the pop they demonstrated in Sunday’s game against the Tigers (home run party!) the game would be a lot more fun than last night’s.

Tonight there won’t be any Mallex Smith, but there will be some Tyler Featherston, who is making only his third starting appearance with the Rays tonight, and Trevor Plouffe will move from DH to first base in his second night with the team.

Starting Pitchers

Alex Cobb

Way back in 2014 Cobb had his only other career start against the Reds, and it went well, as in seven scoreless innings well.

Cobb was all right against the Tigers on Thursday last week, but not enough to avoid the loss. Currently his season record is at exactly .500, with five wins and five losses. His ERA is at 4.17 and his FIP is 4.29. The only hitter in tonight’s lineup with an existing scoring history against Cobb is Scooter Gennett, who has a .500 average against Cobb in two at-bats and one RBI. This isn’t a huge surprise given the limited interleague play between the two teams.

Cobb is currently averaging 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings, but he’s also averaging at least one home run per nine as well. He leans heavily on his fastball, using it 49.8% of the time, but this season has shifted from relying on his changeup to focus more on his curveball. Last season he used the changeup 29.5% to the curve’s 22.5%, this year it’s a near reverse with the changeup used only 15.8% of the time to the curve’s 34.4%. Considering Cobb was only in five games last year, the numbers are bound to skew slightly, but he’s definitely favoring his curve more than ever before.

Amir Garrett

This is Garrett’s first major league season, and while he started out solidly enough, he’s beginning to show a young pitcher’s unevenness. In his last three starts he has two losses and a no-decision, and an ERA of 11.17.

For the season he has a 3-5 record, a 6.91 ERA, ad a 6.97 FIP. His WHIP is a fairly ugly 1.500, an while his strikeouts per nine innings is 7.6, he’s also averaging 2.8 home runs per nine.

By and large Garrett is a fastball pitcher, using his low-90s fastball 61.3% of the time, and combining a mixture of breaking pitches including a slider (16.3%), a cutter (5.1%), and a chageup (16.7%) as his most common secondaries.

The Rays will feature a very right-hand heavy lineup against Garrett, and his splits suggest this will work in the Rays’ favor. For away games, right-handed batters are averaging .276/.370/.552 against the lefty.

Starting Lineups

June 20, 2017 - Starting Lineups

Cincinnati Reds Tampa Bay Rays
Cincinnati Reds Tampa Bay Rays
Billy Hamilton - CF Steven Souza Jr - RF
Scooter Gennett - 2B Corey Dickerson - LF
Joey Votto - 1B Evan Longoria - 3B
Adam Duvall - LF Logan Morrison - DH
Eugenio Suarez - 3B Trevor Plouffe - 1B
Scott Schebler - RF Daniel Robertson - SS
Devin Mesoraco - DH Peter Bourjos - CF
Tucker Barnhart - C Taylor Featherston - 2B
Jose Peraza - SS Jesus Sucre - C
Amir Garrett - LHP Alex Cobb - RHP