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Series Preview: Red Sox vs. Rays

Dome sweet dome for an AL East rivalry

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays salvaged their trip to Chicago by winning three of their final four. The Rays return home sitting at 7-6 and are tied with the New York Yankees for second in the American League East 1.0 game behind the Toronto Blue Jays.


Friday 7:10 PM: Michael Wacha vs Corey Kluber
Saturday 6:10 PM: Rich Hill vs TBA
Sunday 1:10 PM: Nathan Eovaldi vs Shane McClanahan

Tommy Romero would be on schedule for Saturday’s game should Ryan Yarbrough continue to be sidelined with an injured groin. The Red Sox counter with three former Ray pitchers in Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, and Nathan Eovaldi.

Michael Wacha didn’t have a great 2021 season for the Rays with a 5.05 ERA/4.47 FIP/3.91 xFIP. His FIP and xFIP were far more palatable than his ERA. Through two starts his biggest problem has been walks. He’s issued five walks in 9.1 innings. He’s been able to avoid damage with a 0.96 ERA despite tthe extra base runners. Wacha has seen a fastball velocity drop of 1.3 mph to 92.5 mph. His 84.4 mph changeup is his go-to putaway pitch. He will add an 88.0 mph cutter and 75.0 mph curveball to round out his repertoire.

Rich Hill was a productive starter in 2021 split between the Rays and New York Mets. His 158.2 innings were the second-most of his career only trailing the 195.0 innings he threw in 2007. Hill is primarily a two-pitch pitcher leaning on an 87.8 mph four-seam fastball and 71.2 mph curveball.

Nathan Eovaldi has had a good run since being traded to the Red Sox at the 2018 trade deadline. He’s been snake bitten by the home run ball allowing five homers in 14.2 innings. Despite the five homers, he’s only allowed six runs. His high octane fastball has begun turning into more strikeouts. Eovaldi works off a 96.7 mph four-seam fastball. He adds a 79.4 mph curveball, 88.3 mph split-finger changeup, 86.0 mph slider, and 91.3 mph cutter to complete his pitch mix. The curveball is his most effective swing and miss pitch.

Red Sox bats have gotten off to a quiet start.

Red Sox hitters have put up a .233/.284/.370 line and put up a 88 wRC+.

The only batters that have gotten off to good starts have been the ones you expect. Xander Bogaerts leads the way with a 166 wRC+. JD Martinez (139 wRC+) and Rafael Devers (125 wRC+) have been key contributors. The only surprise has been Alex Verdugo (148 wRC+) leading the way with three homers.

JD Martinez was pulled in their Wednesday matchup with left adductor tightness that also caused him to miss yesterday’s finale against the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s listed as day-to-day, but his status to start this series is unknown.

Rays are rested.

The Rays didn’t have their first off-day until yesterday. Their next will come Monday. That plays into the Rays' hands of a potential opener/bullpen game on Saturday. Rays need their pitching to get healthier, but it looks like they have survived the difficult stretch to start the year in relatively good shape.