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Series Preview: Boston next in line to try and prevent a Rays postseason push

Will this series be a respite from the storm?

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays head to Boston to take on the Red Sox as a hurricane barrels toward Florida.

The Rays, 3.5 games back of the Wild Card, won a series against the Minnesota Twins, but came up just short of a sweep in the finale. The Red Sox, the division leaders, won their last two against the Toronto Blue Jays after dropping three of four.

The Matchups:

Friday 7:10 PM: Chris Archer vs Drew Pomeranz
Saturday 7:10 PM: Matt Andriese vs Chris Sale
Sunday 1:35 PM: Alex Cobb vs Rick Porcello

Red Sox send out their two best left handed pitchers to start the series.

Drew Pomeranz has had a very good season. He’s put up a 3.36 ERA and 3.79 FIP. He gets a lot of strikeouts, 24.3% strikeout rate, but he does walk quite a few, 9.3% walk rate. In the first round the Rays put up five runs in 4.1 innings against Pomeranz. In his last two outings against the Rays he allowed two runs. One outing went three innings and in the other he went six innings. In his last start the New York Yankees tagged him for four runs in 5.1 innings.

Chris Sale was already a top five pitcher in the majors and this year he’s putting up the best year of his career. He has a 2.85 ERA and 2.20 FIP. His 36.1% strikeout rate is the highest of his career. His 4.9% walk rate is in line with what he’s done the last two years. His last few starts haven’t been great overall, however there is one really good start in the lot. His last time out he allowed three runs in 4.1 innings to the Yankees. In three starts against the Rays he’s allowed seven total runs (one, two, and four runs) while going at least seven innings in each start.

The 2016 American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello isn’t having a very good follow up campaign. Porcello has a 4.67 ERA and 4.57 FIP. His 20.6% is in line with recent seasons. His 4.9% walk rate is very good and just below his career rate. His HR/FB rate has surged to 15.2% while being a very fly ball prone pitcher. In their last two meetings Porcello has gotten the best of the Rays allowing three runs in 14.0 innings. The first two times around the Rays got the best of Porcello with 13 runs in 10.1 innings. The Rays have hit seven homers off Porcello this year. In his last outing he allowed seven runs in 5.1 innings to the Blue Jays.

Craig Kimbrel is having one of the best years of his career.

Craig Kimbrel’s season has been remarkable. After two down years, compared to the standards Kimbrel set during his Braves tenure, he has rebounded with an incredible year.

In 59.0 innings he has a 1.53 ERA and 1.30 FIP. He has struck out exactly 50.0% of batters this year. This would be the first year he’s been over 40% since his 50.2% strikeout rate he put up in 2012. The biggest reason for his success has been the plummeted walk rate. This year he has a 5.5% walk rate whereas his career rate is 9.5%. If you are able to put the ball in play he has been prone to the longball allowing five homers.

At the trade deadline they acquired Mets closer Addison Reed. In 14.2 innings he has put up disappointing results with a 5.52 ERA and 5.32 FIP. Overall he has a 3.25 ERA and 3.64 FIP in 63.2 innings, with a 24.9% strikeout rate and 3.5% walk rate.

Otherwise, be wary of Joe Kelly. He has been really effective out of the pen, with a 2.59 ERA and 3.42 FIP.

The Boston offense has been a major disappointment.

The Red Sox have put up a .258/.331/.406 line and 92 wRC+. They have hit the fewest homers in the American League by a pretty significant margin. Over the past two weeks they have the worst offense in the American League putting up a .214/.296/.334 line and 66 wRC+.

Of guys that have been the Red Sox the bulk of the year Dustin Pedroia is having the best offensive season with a 106 wRC+. Read that sentence again.

Mookie Betts is having a disappointing year on offense to follow up his breakout 2016 with a 101 wRC+. Andrew Benintendi has had a solid rookie year with a 103 wRC+ with 19 homers and 18 stolen bases.

Hanley Ramirez (95 wRC+), Mitch Moreland (97 wRC+), Jackie Bradley Jr. (99 wRC+), and Xander Bogaerts (90 wRC+) have been just below average in full time roles.

Eduardo Nunez (126 wRC+) has performed well in 169 plate appearances since being acquired from the San Francisco Giants. He has eight homers with the Red Sox.

Rafael Devers has been an impactful call up. In his first 151 plate appearances he has a 121 wRC+ with eight homers. He has filled a giant hole at third base the Red Sox have had for the last half a decade.

May everybody in the southeast United States stay safe from Hurricane Irma.

May the baseball games provide us with a distraction once the devastating storm makes impact. We’ve seen what happened to the Caribbean islands that have been smashed by this massive storm. Please take all precautions and make sure your friends and family are safe.