The Tampa Bay Rays got off to a great start to their ten-game west coast road trip. After sweeping the Oakland Athletics they face the Seattle Mariners. Recent trips to Seattle haven’t been kind to the Rays. Let’s see if this time it’s different.
The Mariners are coming into the series not playing well. They were swept by the Houston Astros earlier this week and have lost seven of their last eight games that includes two losses against the Rays.
The Rays haven’t reached their top gear, but they are still banking wins. Their 15-10 record is a 97 win pace, but currently that places them at third place in the American League East. The New York Yankees’ (18-7) eleven game winning streak ended but they currently sit 2.5 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays (16-10), 3.0 games ahead of the Rays (15-10), 8.0 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox (10-15), and 9.0 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles (9-16).
Thursday 9:40 PM: Shane McClanahan vs Robbie Ray
Friday 9:40 PM: Josh Fleming vs Logan Gilbert
Saturday 9:10 PM: Drew Rasmussen vs Marco Gonzales
Sunday 4:10 PM: Ryan Yarbrough vs Chris Flexen
Note on watching the series: Friday night’s game will be shown exclusively on Apple TV+. The only way to watch the game will be through the app. For now it’s being shown for free.
Robbie Ray had a breakout 2021 that led to him collecting his first career Cy Young Award. He posted a 2.84 ERA/3.69 FIP/3.38 xFIP. His start to the 2022 hasn’t been nearly as hot. Through 30.1 innings and his first five starts he’s posted a 4.15 ERA/4.38 FIP/4.25 xFIP. The biggest surprise is his strikeout rate, which has dropped from 32.1% in 2021 and 29.0% career to 20.8% in 2022. His walk rate is up to 9.6% from 6.7% last season, but is what many would expect from his 10.2% career rate. Hopefully the Rays are able to jump on him while he’s struggling. Looks like the main cause of the strikeout drop comes from a loss of more than two mph on all his offerings. His four-seam fastball is down to 92.5 mph from 94.8 mph. His slider is down to 86.4 mph from 88.6 mph. His curveball has dropped from 82.5 mph to 77.4 mph. His changeup has dropped from 88.2 mph to 86.2 mph. He is mostly a two pitch pitcher. His four-seam fastball and slider makes up 90% of his offerings and this year that number has increased to nearly 97%.
Logan Gilbert has gotten off to a terrific start. In 28.0 innings he’s posted a 0.64 ERA/3.06 FIP/3.43 xFIP. He has posted a 24.8% strikeout rate and 7.3% walk rate. Last week he held the Rays scoreless over 5.2 innings. His only two earned runs have come off solo homers. Gilbert works off a 95.3 mph four-seam fastball with his go too secondary pitch being a 86.4 mph slider. He will mix in some 79.8 mph curveballs early in the count. Against left handed batters he’ll add a 85.6 mph changeup, but right handed batters can eliminate the pitch.
Marco Gonzales has gotten off to a typical Marco Gonzales season. He’s posted a 4.05 ERA/6.44 FIP/4.10 xFIP. He doesn’t strikeout many batters (16.8% K) and limits walks (6.3% BB). Last week he only faced three batters against the Rays before being removed after being struck by a line drive. So far his most thrown pitch has been a 79.7 mph changeup that he’s willing to throw to same handed batters. He adds a 88.3 mph sinker, 86.4 mph cutter, and 76.8 mph curveball.
Chris Flexen has gotten off to a fast start posting a 3.10 ERA/4.20 FIP/4.56 xFIP over 29.0 innings. He’s another pitcher that doesn’t get strikeouts (14.8% K), but he will walk his fair share (7.8% BB). Last week he held the Rays to two runs over 6.2 innings. Flexen works off a 91.4 mph four-seam fastball and 87.2 mph cutter as his primary pitches. He goes to a 81.2 mph changeup when he is looking to putaway a hitter even if strikeouts aren’t his game. He will sprinkle in a 75.1 mph curveball early in the count.
Seattle offense has been better than expected.
Seattle has hit .231/.317/.374 and put up a 112 wRC+ that is very similar to what the Rays have done.
JP Crawford (214 wRC+) and Ty France (177 wRC+) have gotten off to scorching hot starts. Crawford has four homers and France leads the team with five.
Eugenio Suarez is enjoying a nice rebound in Seattle posting a 120 wRC+ with four homers.
Adam Frazier (84 wRC+) and Jesse Winker (78 wRC+) have been disappointing acquisitions.
Julio Rodriguez (85 wRC+) made the opening day roster as a top prospect, but has struggled at the plate. He leads the majors with nine stolen bases.
Jarred Kelenic (48 wRC+) is not fairing any better in his sophomore campaign after a really disappointing rookie season. Prospects, we often note, will break your heart