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Series Preview: Matt Moore comes home

Several familiar faces will be back in the Trop.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that series against the Philadelphia Phillies was much how I remembered the 2008 World Series — minus the monsoon. Next the Tampa Bay Rays take on Matt Moore and the Texas Rangers.

The Rays have lost four in a row as part of a 3-12 disappointing start to the season. When it seemed things couldn’t get worse, the Rays got news that Kevin Kiermaier will miss the next two to three months.

The Rangers come in with a 6-11 record, but are coming off winning two in a row against the defending champion Houston Astros.

The Matchups:

Monday 7:10 PM: Martin Perez vs Blake Snell
Tuesday 7:10 PM: Matt Moore vs Bullpen
Wednesday 1:10 PM: Cole Hamels vs Jacob Faria

Matt Moore returns to Tropicana Field.

Rangers Starters Last 3+ Years

Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Martin Perez 81 470.2 13.1% 8.1% 0.88 4.70 4.42
Matt Moore 79 448.0 19.3% 8.6% 1.25 4.96 4.50
Cole Hamels 92 583.0 22.5% 8.3% 1.10 3.70 4.03

Game one features a matchup of lefties. Martin Perez doesn’t strike out many (13.9% career strikeout rate) and has an average 8.0% walk rate. In his last start he got hit around for eight runs in 3.0 innings. Last May the Rays put up five runs in five innings against Perez in Arlington.

Once upon a time Matt Moore was in the discussion for the top prospect in baseball with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. He was coming off a magnificent seven-inning scoreless outing in the playoffs against the Rangers. Tommy John surgery and trades to San Francisco and now Texas have Moore leaving mostly disappointed in what he became. Since the Rays traded him in July 2016 Moore has a 5.29 ERA and 4.41 FIP over 255.0 innings

Cole Hamels is the third lefty the Rays will face this series. Last year was a step back for one of the best pitchers in the early part of the decade. He put up a 4.20 ERA and 4.62 FIP last year in 148.0 innings. The last time he faced the Rays was in August of 2016, and he allowed one run in 7.1 innings.

Keone Kela steps in as closer.

Rangers Relievers Last 3+ Years

Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Keone Kela 148 138.1 30.0% 9.9% 0.91 3.32 3.30
Matt Bush 123 122.2 24.6% 7.5% 0.81 3.08 3.32
Alex Claudio 135 154.0 17.0% 5.0% 0.53 2.69 3.23
Jake Diekman 152 127.0 26.8% 13.2% 0.71 3.69 3.70
Tony Barnette 105 120.1 21.4% 7.7% 0.82 3.66 3.67
Kevin Jepsen 141 127.1 18.0% 9.6% 1.20 3.75 4.57
Jesse Chavez 87 108.1 24.8% 6.1% 1.58 4.74 4.17
Chris Martin 33 28.1 19.9% 5.3% 0.64 4.76 3.04

Keone Kela has gotten the call to pick up two saves this year. Kela has a big fastball and posts big strikeout totals. He’s wild at times, so the Rays would be advised to be patient and try to let him get himself in trouble.

Matt Bush has picked up 11 career saves. He’s been in the Rangers bullpen since 2016. Bush entered spring looking to win a job in the rotation, but ultimately ended up in the bullpen.

Alex Claudio is the Rangers highest leverage left handed reliever. He’s held left-handed batters to .166/.196/.247 and .192 wOBA over 262 plate appearances. He’s been much more hittable against right handed batters allowing a .292/.341/.404 and .320 wOBA.

Kevin Jepsen returns to St. Pete. He was traded to the Twins in the summer of 2015 for Chih-Wei Hu. Hu was recalled from Durham today.

The Ranger offense is struggling.

Rangers Batters Last 3+ Years

Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Adrian Beltre 1715 68 3 7.9% 11.3% 0.297 0.355 0.495 0.361 124
Shin-Soo Choo 1572 54 23 11.6% 21.8% 0.262 0.361 0.435 0.347 114
Nomar Mazara 1245 41 2 7.8% 20.4% 0.261 0.323 0.418 0.318 93
Robinson Chirinos 804 38 1 10.0% 25.4% 0.236 0.334 0.470 0.346 113
Joey Gallo 758 53 11 12.9% 38.7% 0.202 0.314 0.495 0.342 110
Ryan Rua 548 16 12 7.3% 31.8% 0.229 0.293 0.370 0.289 74
Jurickson Profar 421 5 4 11.4% 19.5% 0.225 0.321 0.310 0.287 72
Juan Cento 289 5 0 6.2% 20.4% 0.233 0.284 0.346 0.275 67
Drew Robinson 168 7 1 11.3% 39.9% 0.208 0.298 0.389 0.300 82
Carlos Tocci 14 0 0 7.1% 50.0% 0.077 0.143 0.077 0.113 -44
Ronald Guzman 13 1 0 7.7% 46.2% 0.333 0.385 0.667 0.450 190
Isiah Kiner-Falefa 13 1 0 0.0% 46.2% 0.154 0.154 0.385 0.230 37

SS Elvis Andrus, 2B Rougned Odor, and CF Delino DeShields Jr. are on the disabled list.

As a team, the Rangers are hitting .225/.298/.364 and have put up a 83 wRC+ this year. Very similar to the Rays numbers but they have hit 18 homers to the Rays 7. Andrus (162 wRC+) has been the Rangers best offensive performer, but former number one overall prospect Jurickson Profar will get some run in his absence.

Adrian Beltre is a member of the 3,000 hit club with 3,065 hits and a future Hall of Famer. In 2017 he was limited to 389 plate appearances, but has had a healthy start to the season.

Shin-Soo Choo was an on-base machine for the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds before signing a massive $130MM contract. Choo still gets on base. He’s ended the season with a .357 OBP each of the last two seasons.

Nomar Mazara is 22 years old and has the third most career plate appearances on the active roster. The offense is young and inexperienced outside of Beltre and Choo.

The Rays have one of the best farm systems.

The Rangers are reminder of how prospects will break your heart. Rays fans are familiar with the heart break of Matt Moore. Jurickson Profar was a near consensus number one overall prospect, but hasn’t had a healthy season yet. Nomar Mazara was extremely young, but been more average than good in his two years in the majors.