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Series Preview: Rays vs Athletics

Go wrangle up some coffee, Late Night with the Rays kicks off tonight

MLB: Wildcard-Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays ended their extended homestand with a disappointing series loss to the Minnesota Twins. They sit at 12-10. They haven’t put themselves in a bad spot, but they do need to play better going forward. The good news is we know that they are capable of going on a run.

After getting used to home cooking the team is going to have to adjust to hotel food as they embark on a ten game west coast road trip. The first stop is Oakland for three. Then they’ll head to Seattle for four, and end with three at the Los Angeles Angels.

Today rosters are cut from 28 to 26 players. The Rays optioned Josh Lowe to AAA and DFA’d Robert Dugger.

Schedule

Monday 9:40 PM: Drew Rasmussen vs Daulton Jefferies
Tuesday 9:40 PM: TBA vs Paul Blackburn
Wednesday 3:37 PM: Corey Kluber vs Frankie Montas

Daulton Jefferies is off to a good start to the 2022 season. He’s posted a 3.26 ERA/4.28 FIP/4.43 xFIP over 19.1 innings. Jefferies doesn’t have the stuff to strike out many major league hitters. He’s posted a 14.0% strikeout rate for his career while walking 7.3% of the batters he’s faced. he throws a 92.2 mph sinker, 88.8 mph cutter, 85.8 mph changeup, 92.7 mph four-seam fastball, and 81.2 mph curveball. He uses all five pitches to keep batters off balanced. If he does need to get a whiff he will go to his changeup that he is willing to throw to batters from both sides of the plate.

Paul Blackburn has gotten off to a great start in 2022. He’s posted a 1.35 ERA/1.59 FIP/2.24 xFIP over 20.0 innings. His strikeout rate has surged from 14.1% to 24.7% at the same time his walk rate has plummeted from 5.9% to 2.7%. In his first start of the year he held the Rays offense scoreless over 5.0 innings while striking out seven and walking one. Blackburn throws a 91.7 mph sinker, 79.5 mph curveball, 86.5 mph changeup, and 86.5 mph cutter. He will occasionally throw a 92.1 mph four-seam fastball. His curveball is go to put away pitch.

Frankie Montas — who clearly still has not been traded — has gotten off to a solid start. He’s posted a 4.25 ERA/3.66 FIP/3.01 xFIP over 29.2 innings. His 26.5% strikeout rate and 6.8% walk rate are both in line with his career rates. He held the Rays to two runs (one earned) over 6.1 innings while striking out six without issuing a walk. Montas works primarily off a 95.8 mph four-seam fastball and 86.0 mph split finger changeup as his two go to pitches. He’ll add in a 95.3 mph sinker, 86.4 mph slider, and 89.0 mph cutter as needed.

Off to a slow start offensively

The Oakland offense has produced very little with a .211/.277/.342 line and 87 wRC+. Their .618 OPS is fourth lowest in the majors however they have been able to score runs. Their 3.82 runs per game is only tenth worst. They have scored more than the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago White Sox among teams that had playoff aspirations entering the season.

Sheldon Neuse’s bat hasn’t been quiet. He’s gotten off to a .328/.400/.463 start and a a 163 wRC+. He’s hit two homers and leads the team with three stolen bases.

Chad Pinder (132 wRC+) and Sean Murphy (115 wRC+) have been the positive contributors on the offensive side of the ball.

Tony Kemp (91 wRC+), Elvis Andrus (85 wRC+), Seth Brown (80 wRC+), Cristian Pache (66 wRC+), and Billy McKinney (7 wRC+) have been the other main contributors that have held back the offense.