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Series Preview: Oakland rematch to provide afternoon baseball this weekend

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The west coast tour continues to the semi-rivals, who split a four-game set with the Rays earlier this season.

MLB: OCT 02 AL Wild Card - Rays at A’s
Tampa Bay Rays infielder Joey Wendle (18) before the American League Wild Card Playoff game at RingCentral Coliseum on October 2, 2019 in Oakland, CA.
Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thanks to an offensive barrage in the eighth inning of series finale against the Los Angeles Angels the Tampa Bay Rays completed the four game sweep and extended their winning streak to five.

Last week the Rays and Oakland Athletics played a very entertaining four game set at Tropicana Field that ended with a split decision. Since leaving Saint Petersburg the Athletics have gone 3-4, all against teams from the American League East.

The Athletics currently hold the top spot in the American League West at 19-14 while the Rays sit 1.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

Matchups:

Friday 9:40 PM: Rich Hill vs Sean Manaea
Saturday 4:07 PM: Tyler Glasnow vs Frankie Montas
Sunday 4:07 PM: Shane McClanahan vs Cole Irvin

Sean Manaea has gotten off to the best start in his career with a 3.48 ERA/3.31 FIP/3.71 xFIP over his first six starts. His strikeouts (23.7%) are up and his walks (5.0%) are down. In his last start he got hit around by the Baltimore Orioles allowing four runs in 5.0 innings. It was the first start he allowed more than two runs since his first start of the season. Manaea’s primary pitch is a 91.3 mph sinker that he throws nearly 60% of the time. To right hand batters he will lean on a 84.1 mph changeup adn he will sprinkle in a 79.9 mph curveball to all batters.

Frankie Montas has gotten off to a slow start with a 5.87 ERA/4.63 FIP/4.23 xFIP over his first six starts of the year. The Rays were able to tag him with three runs over 6.0 innings. He also allowed three runs in 6.0 innings in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays. Montas mixes his fastball usage between a 95.8 mph sinker and 96.3 mph four-seam fastball. Against right handed batters he’ll throw a 88.8 mph slider and against left handed batters he’ll throw a 87.5 mph split finger changeup.

Cole Irvin has been the big surprise in the Athletics rotation. He’s posted a 3.09 ERA/2.96 FIP/3.72 xFIP over six starts. He’s posted a strong 23.6% but his 3.5% walk rate has been exceptional. The Rays put up two runs in 6.0 innings against him last week. In his last start he held the Blue Jays to one run in 8.0 innings. Irvin features a 91.0 mph four-seam fastball and 90.6 mph sinker as his fastball offerings. Against right handers he’ll throw a 83.8 mph changeup. He’ll throw his 82.6 mph slider to both batters but is his fourth most used pitch. He’ll sprinkle in a 76.4 mph curveball as a pitch early in the count to try to steal a strike.

The power throwing left hander Jake Diekman and soft throwing right hander Yusmeiro Petit have been the most effective pitchers out of the bullpen.

Oakland’s offense remains similar to the Rays.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays
Elvis Andrus
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics are hitting .219/.308/.390 and putting up a 105 wRC+. They strike out a lot (24.3%), but they also work counts and draw walks (9.6%). They have some sneaky pop and are second in the majors with 43 homers.

Most of the Oakland offense is hitting well. The only player with a sub 100 wRC+ with more than 50 PA is Elvis Andrus who is really struggling with a .143/.193/.171 line and 6 wRC+.

Matt Olson is the biggest offensive threat and is hitting .280/.348/.560 and putting up a 158 wRC+. He’s tied for the team lead with seven homers. Ramon Laureano is hitting .259/.333/.517 and putting up a 144 wRC+. He is tied for the team lead with seven homers. Laureano is very aggressive on the base paths and has eight stolen bases.

Mark Canha continues his hot stretch as one of the best hitters in baseball since 2019. He’s hitting .248/.380/.419 and putting up a 139 wRC+. He has a strong power and speed combination with five homers and five stolen bases. Sean Murphy hasn’t been slowed down since suffering a collapsed lung during Spring Training. He’s hitting .218/.358/.423 and putting up a 133 wRC+.

After only managing to get nine plate appearances during his two year contract with the New York Mets, Jed Lowrie has had a strong return to Oakland. In 125 plate appearances he’s hit .265/.336/.425 and put up a 122 wRC+.

Seth Brown (110 wRC+), Mitch Moreland (110 wRC+), Matt Chapman (100 wRC+), and Stephen Piscotty (100 wRC+) have contributed to a well rounded team production.

The Rays have locked in a winning road trip.

After an uninspiring homestand the road trip can already be classified as a success. It’s always tough to fly to the west coast especially without a day off. The Rays lead the league with 11 road wins and a 11-5 record.

A series victory before heading home and enjoying an offday on Monday would be a great outcome. This is the toughest stretch of the Rays schedule with 30 games in 31 days that includes a west coast road trip. The Rays have started 16-11 through the first 27 games.

The team is coming together and playing well. While the Rays would like to have more wins they have gotten off to a solid start and in position to be where they want to be by the end of the year.