We can’t predict the future, and have no idea how far the Rays will get this postseason.
But one thing we can say with confidence: Fenway Park will be empty after Wednesday, and the Boston players are heading home.
The Tampa Bay Rays take the final lap of the regular season as they head to Boston to play a nearly meaningless series against the Boston Red Sox. The Rays are 1.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the fifth seed in the American League. The Rays do hold the tie breaker, but need to win one more game than Seattle while Seattle plays four games against the Detroit Tigers. So the most likely outcome has the Rays heading to Cleveland for the Wild Card round.
Monday 7:10 PM: Tyler Glasnow vs Rich Hill
Tuesday 7:10 PM: Jeffrey Springs* vs Nate Eovaldi
Wednesday 4:10 PM: Drew Rasmussen* vs Nick Pivetta
* Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen are being listed as the starters for the final two games of the season, but that’s very unlikely to happen. If Springs and Rasmussen make their scheduled starts their availability for the first round of the playoffs is going to be limited to game three with Springs on normal rest and Rasmussen having to go on short rest. My best guess is the Rays will call up a starter for each game. Kevin Hegret was called up today and Josh Fleming was put on the taxi squad. I’d expect both to get used during the series for bulk innings. Springs and Rasmussen might throw a 2-3 inning open that wouldn’t be that different from a bullpen day as a part of their regular throwing program.
Rich Hill has thrown reasonably well for the Red Sox this year but the ERA has been north of 4.00 for the first time since his career was resurrected in 2013. He’s posted a 4.41 ERA/3.82 FIP/4.15 xFIP. His strikeout rate is down to 20.4% and he has walked fewer batters than he typically has with a 7.1% walk rate. Hill works primarily off a 88.5 mph four-seam fastball, 71.9 mph curveball, and 84.2 mph cutter. Sometimes his breaking ball will register as a 69.2 mph slider that comes in with slightly less velocity than his curveball while demonstrating more left-right movement than up-down movement. The slider is the pitch that he can get swing and misses on at an above average rate.
Nate Eovaldi has had a disappointing season when it comes to ERA and FIP, but has been quite good by xFIP. He’s posted a 4.05 ERA/4.38 FIP/3.41 xFIP. Despite having top end velocity he’s never been a strikeout pitcher but his strikeout rate has dropped to 22.4% this season. He’s been able to get by with the strikeout rate due to a 4.1% walk rate and is the fourth time in the last five years he’s posted a sub 5% walk rate. The biggest problem has been his astronomically high 1.81 HR/9 in a season where the league wide HR/9 fell to 1.09 and the lowest point since 2015. Eovaldi throws a 95.8 mph four-seam fastball that has fallen a couple ticks over the last two seasons. He leans on a 87.8 mph split finger changeup and 78.4 mph curveball as his primary secondary weapons of choice. Against right handed batters he will add a 86.1 mph slider. The split finger changeup is his true out pitch and the one he will go to when he’s looking for a strikeout.
Nick Pivetta has had a disappointing season posting a 4.56 ERA/4.38 FIP/4.25 xFIP over 175.2 innings. His strikeout rate has fallen to 22.5% while continues to walk too many batters with a 9.3% walk rate. Pivetta throws a 93.4 mph four-seam fastball, 77.2 mph curveball, and 85.8 mph slider as his three pitch mix. The slider is his go to pitch when he needs a swing and miss.
The Red Sox offense has disappointed.
The Red Sox have three big bats that have created a fearsome top of the lineup. Xander Bogaerts (132 wRC+) and Rafael Devers (139 wRC+) have met those lofty expectations, but JD Martinez (116 wRC+) has had a solid season but less than most expect. The problem is there hasn’t been much help as the team has hit .257/.321/.409 and put up a 102 wRC+.
Alex Verdugo (105 wRC+) and Trevor Story (100 wRC+) have been the best supporting bats. Pham (91 wRC+) has been fine since being acquired at the trade deadline.
Triston Casas (131 wRC+) has had a successful transition to the majors in his first 89 MLB plate appearances.