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Series Preview: Boston calling, no one answering

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Can the Rays keep sending the Red Sox straight to voice mail?

Boston Red Sox Summer Workouts
Chief Baseball Officer for the Boston Red Sox Chaim Bloom talks by the phone
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays got off to a solid start winning two out of three against the Miami Marlins. Now the Rays look to continue their series victories in a trip to Boston to face the Red Sox.

The Red Sox on the other hand had a suboptimal start to their season by getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles. Nathan Eovaldi and Tanner Houck had good starts, but everything else went south for Chaim Bloom’s rebuilding roster.

Matchups:

Monday 7:10 PM: Michael Wacha vs Nick Pivetta
Tuesday 7:10 PM: Tyler Glasnow vs Martin Perez
Wednesday 1:10 PM: Ryan Yarbrough vs Nathan Eovaldi

The results of Nick Pivetta haven’t been great throughout his MLB career. In 406.1 innings he has a 5.40 ERA, but his 4.61 FIP and 4.03 xFIP are much more optimistic about the results he deserves. He’s posted a 24.5% strikeout rate and 8.6% walk rate. The Red Sox are betting on the numbers to come more in line with his FIP when he was one of the major pieces the Red Sox acquired in trades last summer. Pivetta mostly throws a four-seamer, curveball, and slider.

Martin Perez returns after a solid 2020 for the Red Sox. He posted a 4.50 ERA/4.70 FIP/4.88 xFIP over 62.0 innings. He found most of his success against the Rays where he allowed only five runs (four earned) over three starts. Perez throws a little bit of everything. His primary pitch the last two years has been a 88-90 mph cutter. He then splits the rest of his usage between a 91-93 mph four-seam fastball, 91-92 mph sinker, 83-85 mph changeup, and 76-79 mph curveball.

Then former Rays starter Nathan Eovaldi takes the ball in game three. In two matchups last year the Rays scored five runs in 8.0 innings against Eovaldi. His primary weapon remains his 96-100 mph four-seam fastball. His secondary weapon of choice is a cutter, but he will throw sliders against right handed batters and split finger changeups against left handed batters.

Boston Red Sox Summer Workouts Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Will the Boston offense wake up from their hibernation?

The Red Sox offense had a terrible weekend against the Baltimore pitching staff. As a team they hit .160/.214/.234 and put up a 23 wRC+. Their .205 wOBA and 23 wRC+ rank second to last in the majors.

JD Martinez remains in Boston after a terrible 2020 especially compared to his standards meant he did not test free agency, but he has gotten off to a quick start this year hitting .500/.500/1.000 with the lone Red Sox homer over 12 plate appearances.

Christian Vazquez has provided the only support, hitting .429/.500/.571 over eight plate appearances.

How bad is the three-game sample size? Marwin Gonzalez (79 wRC+), Kevin Plawecki (82 wRC+), and Christian Arroyo (82 wRC+) are the only other hitters that have posted a wRC+ higher than 5.

This is a talented offense. Players like Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Alex Verdugo won’t be kept with negative wRC+ for long. Let’s just hope they don’t start hitting until the Rays leave Boston.

The Red Sox aren’t this bad.

Last year the Red Sox posted the fourth worst record in the majors at 24-36 behind only the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, and Pittsburgh Pirates, and they have gotten off to a 0-3 start against a team that isn’t even suppose to be mediocre.

This doesn’t mean the Red Sox should be slept on; they have talent. They should be much better than their record over the last year indicates.

The Rays need to keep their eye on the prize and continue to win series as they get started on this 162 game marathon season.