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Series Preview: Rays head to Oakland

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Rays play three in the only ML stadium that gets more grief than the Trop

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays head to Oakland winners of eight of their last twelve. The Oakland Athletics started the second half with a sweep of the Cleveland Indians.

The Rays currently sit in second in the American League East and are in possession of the first wild card position.

The Matchups:

Monday 10:05 PM: Jake Odorizzi vs Daniel Gossett
Tuesday 10:05 PM: Blake Snell vs Chris Smith
Wednesday 3:35 PM: Jacob Faria vs Sonny Gray

The Oakland rotation has been their strength.

The Oakland rotation has put up a 4.57 ERA and 4.30 FIP. Their 1.15 HR/9 is the fourth lowest in the majors. They are middle of the pack in walks and strikeouts.

Daniel Gossett has a 6.23 ERA and 5.75 FIP through his first six starts in the majors. He strikes out very few, but also limits walks. His 25.8% HR/FB rate has been a major problem. In his last start against the Mariners he allowed three runs in 4.1 innings.

Chris Smith is making his second start of his career. He is 36 years old and has 63 relief appearances under his belt, dating back to 2008, with many years of minor league service as well. Because of his recent conversion to the rotation, it’s a little hard to talk about his track record. In his first start, he allowed three runs in six innings to the Mariners while striking out four and walking one.

Sonny Gray is penciled in to make the start on Wednesday. There is a chance he is dealt before he makes the start. Gray has a 3.72 ERA and 3.46 FIP. His strikeout rate is at the highest since his rookie year. His walks are in line with his career numbers at 7.5%. He has silenced left handed bats with a .212/.279/.333 and .268 wOBA this season. Gray is coming off his most impressive start of the season. He held the Indians scoreless over six innings allowing only two hits and a walk while striking out four.

Who is left in the Athletic’s bullpen?

Yesterday the Athletics completed a trade sending their two most effective relievers, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, to the Washington Nationals. They did receive Blake Treinen back as part of the deal; Treinen had struggled early in the season with the Nationals.

The Athletics pen has put up a 4.87 ERA and 4.38 FIP. Madson and Doolittle were two of three relievers to post ERAs below 3.40 and the only two to have FIPs below 3.00 while throwing at least ten innings.

Santiago Castillo steps up as their highest leverage arm remaining. He has a 3.71 ERA and 3.70 FIP and has picked up 15 saves this season.

Daniel Coloumbe steps in to be the top left handed option. He has a 2.81 ERA and 4.11 FIP.

Liam Hendriks and Coloumbe have been used the last two games, so could be unavailable for game one.

Yonder Alonso leads the offense.

The offense as a whole as been disappointing for the Athletics. They have hit .236/.310/.424 and 98 wRC+. Their offense is almost parallel to the Rays except for .020 points off each part of the triple slash. They hit for lower average, but get similar walks and ISO. They strike out slightly more.

On the positive side, Yonder Alonso has broken out offensively this year. His ISO which has hovered around .100 during his first five plus years in the majors, has spiked to .287. He’s produced similar numbers to Logan Morrison with a .269/.368/.556 and 146 wRC+. He has hit 21 homers.

Khris Davis continues to crush. He’s hit 25 homers and put up a 127 wRC+.

Jed Lowrie is enjoying his best season since 2013. He has put up a 115 wRC+.

Rajai Davis has been the biggest disappointment offensively who still remains on the team. His offensive production has fallen off a cliff. He’s down to a 64 wRC+.

A big difference between the Rays and A’s is defense. The Oakland defense has combined for a league worst -56 DRS and -40.2 UZR.

The Rays hit Oakland at an opportune time.

Oakland took a big hit to their bullpen by trading their two most effective relievers. There are a ton of trade rumors surrounding the Athletics. When are guys like Alonso, Lowrie, and Gray are going to be moved? Could be during the series.

The Rays continue their run of winning series. The Rays just need to take care of business and win the games in front of them. This Oakland team still has talent to win games, as they proved by sweeping the Indians, so the Rays can’t take a win for granted.