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Tampa Bay Rays @ Chicago White Sox Game Preview: Blake Snell vs Reynaldo Lopez

The Rays must win every game from now until game 162/163/164 and beyond

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

So it begins.

The Tampa Bay Rays are playing meaningful games in September for the first time since their 2013 playoff run. After winning back to back series for the first time since July, the Rays sit in 4th place in the American League East, but more importantly, just four games back in the Wild Card chase with a record of 67-68. They have three teams between them and the second Wild Card spot.

To begin September, the Rays will face the worst team in the American League, the Chicago White Sox, who sit in last place in the American League Central with a record of 52-80. These three games will be huge in deciding the Rays playoff chances.

Starting Pitchers

Blake Snell vs Reynaldo Lopez

Blake Snell - He has put his early career struggles behind him as of late as a new approach has him carving through opposing lineups. He has four straight outings of going at least six innings, something hadn’t done in the majors prior. His last time out came on the 26th in St Louis, where he dealt with defensive issues behind him *cough Corey Dickerson cough.* He allowed two runs on four hits, while he walked three and struck out seven over seven innings pitched.

Reynaldo Lopez - One of the elite prospects acquired by the White Sox this past off-season, Lopez spent most of the season in Triple-A, making a couple of starts for the White Sox in August. It’s been a long layoff since the last time he pitched, as his last outing was on the 17th in Texas where he allowed six runs on five hits, one home run, while he walked four and struck out six before departing with an out in the fifth inning.

Baseball America had this to say on him, after ranking him as the 3rd best prospect in the White Sox system and 31 overall in MLB

Lopez has made incredible strides as a professional, and his fastball now comfortably sits in the mid-90s and touched 100 mph in the big leagues. His improved strength also has helped his curveball, which is a powerful 11-to-5 hammer that is a swing-and-miss offering. Lopez made strides with both his changeup and control in 2016, two areas critical to his chances to remain in the rotation in the big leagues. His changeup has become a third solid pitch for him, giving him a weapon against lefthanded hitters. He also did a better job of repeating his delivery, leading to improved command.

Lopez will come at opposing hitters with those three pitches, averaging in the mid-90’s with his fastball, and the low 80’s with his curveball and change-up. His change-up is probably the best of the three as he uses it about a quarter of the time and batters swing through it about half of the time.

Starting Lineups

Today's Lineups

Kevin Kiermaier - CF Tim Anderson - SS
Lucas Duda - DH Tyler Saladino - DH
Evan Longoria - 3B Avisail Garcia - RF
Logan Morrison - 1B Matt Davidson - 1B
Steven Souza - RF Kevan Smith - C
Corey Dickerson - LF Alen Hanson - LF
Wilson Ramos - C Leury Garcia - 2B
Brad Miller - 2B Adam Engel - CF
Adeiny Hechavarria - SS Yolmer Sanchez - 3B
Blake Snell - LHP Reynaldo Lopez - RHP