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Game 18 Preview: Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rays

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After losing the second game of the series 7-2 in front of 8,972 people, the Rays will be looking to pull off a series win today.

Starting Pitchers

Cole Hamels (1-2, 4.54 ERA) vs Jake Faria (0-1, 8.18 ERA)

Faria’s second start of the season, where he allowed 8 ER in just 1.2 innings of work, really make his start look worst than it has been. Both pitchers were at their best the last time they threw, Hamels going 6 strong with 2 ER and Faria working through 5.1 innings with 1 ER, so it should be a good battle.

Cole Hamels Scouting Report

The first thing to note about Hamels in 2018 is that he’s not working at the same velocity as he used to, as you can tell from the chart below (courtesy Brooks Baseball)

Credit - Brooks Baseball

Along with this change in velocity has come a change in arsenal’s use, bringing his cutter to the front of the line for the first time in his career,

Credit - Brooks Baseball

In terms of his most effective pitches overall, the change up has earned him the most whiffs, closely followed by his cutter, and his fastballs have been hit most often as a percentage of pitches thrown. However, LHH have had more success vs his cutter, while RHH have had more success vs his fastball and change up.

It’s still too early to note solid trends so far (caveat of small sample size for the above), but it’s what he - and his opponents - have managed thus far in the season. And the opponents he’s faced are also noteworthy, as he’s faced the Astros twice, the hot start 11-5 Blue Jays, and the 8-10 Athletics.

So despite tough opponents to kick off the season and reduced velocity, Hamels has held his own.

Jake Faria Notes

So far in 2018 Faria’s managed a 8.18 BB/9, so we know where he’ll be looking to improve in this game. If he can limit the walks as he did his last time out (2 in 5.1 innings), he should be able to put in a solid start and get himself to the 6 inning mark for the first time in 2018.

In terms of pitch counts, Faria threw 78-73-83 over his first three starts, so expecting him to near 100 if things are working well enough is reasonable.

Starting Lineups

Of note for the Rays is the use of Brandon Snyder at 3B (126 GP there in the minors, 27 in MLB) which results in Daniel Robertson heading to 2B, and Johnny Field giving Carlos Gomez a day off in RF. Also, Adeiny Hechavarria drops to 5th in the lineup after two games in the 2-hole where he went 4 for 9 against two other LHP. In 29 AB vs Hamels, Hechavarria has hit .379/.400/.552.

Game 18 Lineup 2018

Rangers Rays
Rangers Rays
RF Shin-Soo Choo LF Denard Span
SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa 2B Daniel Robertson
LF Nomar Mazara DH Carlos Gomez
DH Adrian Beltre 1B CJ Cron
1B Joey Gallo SS Adeiny Hechavarria
C Robinson Chirinos C Jesus Sucre
2B Drew Robinson CF Mallex Smith
3B Renato Nunez 3B Brandon Snyder
CF Carlos Tocci RF Johnny Field