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Series Preview: Big Willy Style

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The Rays are Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It!

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays come back home after an eventful 11 game road trip. The Rays went 7-4 and briefly got to .500. They currently sit a game under at 22-23. The Rays won two of their last three against the Boston Red Sox. Overall they are 3-7 against the Red Sox.

The Red Sox come in after winning three of four against the Baltimore Orioles.

The Matchups:

Tuesday 7:10 PM: Chris Sale vs Jacob Faria
Wednesday 7:10 PM: David Price vs Chris Archer
Thursday 7:10 PM: Drew Pomeranz vs Blake Snell

Three southpaws set to face the Rays offense

Red Sox Starters Last 3 Years

Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Chris Sale 98 669.1 32.0% 4.9% 1.04 3.05 2.86
David Price 78 516.2 24.6% 6.0% 0.96 3.36 3.33
Drew Pomeranz 69 416.0 25.0% 9.4% 1.08 3.45 3.85

The Rays face off against a very good set of left handed pitchers in Chris Sale, David Price, and Drew Pomeranz. Perhaps surprisingly, the Rays offense has been effective versus left handed pitchers hitting .263/.335/.442 and a 110 wRC+.

In three series the Rays have been fortunate enough to face Chris Sale only once. On opening day he held the Rays scoreless, his only scoreless outing this season. The Rays managed to come back and win that game with late inning heroics against the Boston bullpen. Sale is having a typical season of dominance with a 2.29 ERA and 2.76 FIP. In his last start he allowed two runs in five innings against the Oakland Athletics.

Former Rays Cy Young Award winner David Price takes the mound in game two against Chris Archer. This will be the fourth time the Rays will face Price this season. Price won the first two rounds going seven scoreless innings each time out. The last time out the Rays won with six runs, five earned, over 5.2 innings. In Price’s last start he allowed two runs in a complete game victory against the Orioles. Price is having one of his worst seasons in recent memory with a 4.38 ERA and 4.02 FIP through his first nine starts, but he still remains capable of pitching an effective 7-8 innings.

Drew Pomeranz hasn’t gotten good results in the early going. Through six starts he has 5.97 ERA and 5.11 FIP. His walk rate is up to 12.0% while his strikeout rate is down to 21.1%. In his first matchup against the Rays he allowed four runs in 5.0 inning with three homers. In his last start the Orioles put up six runs, five earned, in 4.0 innings.

Craig Kimbrel leads a good bullpen

Red Sox Relievers Last 3 Years

Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Craig Kimbrel 188 185.0 41.8% 9.1% 0.83 2.09 2.30
Matt Barnes 176 180.1 26.8% 10.3% 1.05 3.99 3.79
Heath Hembree 142 159.0 22.6% 7.4% 1.30 3.17 4.06
Joe Kelly 88 97.0 25.0% 10.3% 0.37 2.32 2.98
Steven Wright 7 16.2 18.3% 12.7% 1.08 4.86 4.75
Brian Johnson 13 16.0 22.5% 7.0% 1.69 7.31 4.50
Bobby Poyner 9 9.2 22.0% 2.4% 0.93 1.86 2.92

Craig Kimbrel has been one of the best relievers in baseball for most of the last half dozen or so years. This year is no exception with a 2.33 ERA and 3.64 FIP. Kimbrel has held the Rays scoreless over his last 14 appearances dating back to the beginning of 2017. He is wild at times, but a strikeout rate over 40% gives him a lot of room for error.

Joe Kelly might not be the Cy Young Award winning pitcher he declared that he saw in his future, but he’s still been a great reliever this year. He has a 2.11 ERA and 2.14 FIP over 21.1 innings. He’s struck out just under 30% of batters.

Matt Barnes is putting up his most dominant season to date with a 2.75 ERA and 3.02 FIP. He’s been wild with a 15.0% walk rate, but he’s also struck out over one third of batters faced.

Both teams are coming off a Monday off day. The Red Sox bullpen should be at full strength with the possible exception of Steven Wright. Wright last threw 4.2 innings on 68 pitches four days ago, so he might not be available for game one.

This Red Sox team hits for power

Red Sox 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+
Mookie Betts 2106 83 79 8.5% 11.3% 0.304 0.363 0.524 0.374 133
Xander Bogaerts 1993 42 36 7.0% 17.5% 0.298 0.352 0.435 0.340 110
JD Martinez 1686 112 7 9.3% 25.8% 0.305 0.370 0.603 0.404 154
Hanley Ramirez 1631 68 19 8.4% 19.3% 0.262 0.330 0.450 0.333 105
Mitch Moreland 1619 70 3 8.1% 22.0% 0.253 0.321 0.456 0.331 103
Jackie Bradley Jr. 1565 55 24 9.5% 23.8% 0.249 0.332 0.441 0.332 104
Eduardo Nunez 1433 35 74 4.3% 13.9% 0.288 0.322 0.432 0.323 100
Brock Holt 980 9 13 9.1% 18.4% 0.263 0.334 0.365 0.309 89
Andrew Benintendi 975 27 29 10.7% 17.3% 0.276 0.356 0.441 0.341 110
Sandy Leon 730 15 1 7.5% 24.1% 0.253 0.312 0.379 0.300 82
Christian Vazquez 656 6 7 4.7% 18.4% 0.254 0.298 0.345 0.281 69
Rafael Devers 432 18 4 7.2% 24.8% 0.263 0.315 0.454 0.323 98
Blake Swihart 374 5 4 8.8% 23.3% 0.272 0.338 0.385 0.318 97

Last year the Red Sox got by on an offense based on batting average and on base skills. They posted the fourth lowest homer total with 168. This year they added JD Martinez in free agency, but are also getting bounce back power seasons from their incumbents. This year they have already hit 68 homers (2nd in MLB) and are on pace to hit 234.

Mookie Betts and JD Martinez are tied for the MLB lead with 15 homers along with the Orioles Manny Machado. Betts (214 wRC+) and Martinez (184 wRC+) are having historic starts to the season.

Andrew Benintendi (125 wRC+) is building off a solid rookie year. Xander Bogaerts (133 wRC+), Mitch Moreland (168 wRC+), and Hanley Ramirez (101 wRC+) have been above average performers at the plate.

Willy Adames arrives at Tropicana Field

Joey Wendle went on paternity leave today following the birth of his son. We applaud Mrs. Wendle for giving birth this morning, with the Rays facing three lefties this series. Mrs. Wendle is already the MVP of this series.

Wendle’s paternity leave cleared the way for the Rays much anticipated call up of number one prospect Willy Adames. His reward for years of hard work through the minors? Facing Chris Sale. Good luck!

Fans living in the area can get to see the debut of the shortshop of the future at Tropicana Field this week. Go cheer on Willy and drown out those pesky New Englanders!