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Series Preview: Rays vs Wendle-less Marlins

An injury will keep the traded Rays All-Star on the shelf this week.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Miami Marlins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays host the Miami Marlins for a two game set at Tropicana Field a day after the Tampa Bay Lightning dispatched the (south) Florida Panthers from the NHL playoffs to advance to their sixth conference finals in the last eight years.

The Tampa Bay Rays return home after a three game road trip in Baltimore we are all trying to erase from memory. The defense is not what Rays fans have come to expect from this team. Hopefully the day off and some reflected good vibes from the “Ice Rays” across the bay can reset the team.

The Rays are in second place in the American League East with a 24-17 record. The New York Yankees lead the division. The Yankees are 4.5 games ahead of the Rays, 7 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays, 9.5 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox, and 11.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.

Tall order in a 2-game series

Tuesday 6:40 PM: Pablo Lopez vs Shane McClanahan
Wednesday 6:40 PM: Trevor Rogers vs Drew Rasmussen

Pablo Lopez has been one of baseball’s best pitchers this year. He’s posted a 1.57 ERA/2.30 FIP/2.91 xFIP over 46.0 innings. He’s struck out 27.0% of batters while limiting walks to 6.2%. Lopez throws two pitches most of the time, a 92.9 mph four-seam fastball and 87.3 mph changeup. The changeup is his real weapon. He throws it to all batters and has gotten a 43.5% whiff rate. He fills out the rest of his repertoire throwing a 88.4 mph cutter and 80.0 mph curveball. He’ll throw the cutter around 10% of the time and the curveball around 5%.

Trevor Rogers has had a rough start to the 2022 season after a breakout rookie season where he posted a 2.64 ERA/2.55 FIP/3.54 xFIP. This year he’s put up a 5.20 ERA/4.70 FIP/4.12 xFIP. His strikeout rate has dropped nearly 10% to 20.9% and his walk rate has crept up to 9.2%. Rogers throws a 94.6 mph four-seam fastball, 85.1 mph changeup, and 80.0 mph slider. The slider is the only pitch that he’s gotten whiffs from this year, and he’s been reluctant to throw it to right handers.

The Miami offense has improved

The Marlins offense has hit .244/.315/.395 and put up a 107 wRC+. They strike out a fair amount, but hit for some power and speed.

The Marlins offense includes many players who will be familiar to Rays fans in Joey Wendle, Jesus Aguilar, Avisail Garcia, and Jesus Sanchez. Unfortunately Wendle is on the Injured List and won’t be available.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. has broken out. He’s hitting .290/.341/.581 and putting up a 157 wRC+ and 7 homers and stolen 6 bases. Brian Anderson (131 wRC+) has rebounded from a down 2021 season. Jorge Soler (111 wRC+) and Jesus Aguilar (119 wRC+) have been productive middle of the order power hitters.

Former Rays prospect Jesus Sanchez (95 wRC+) has gotten off to a solid start as well, but Avisail Garcia (55 wRC+) has had a very difficult start to the season.

One more thing...

Finally, make sure you get your submissions in for a free jersey!