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Series Preview: Rays vs Angels

Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays have enjoyed their time out west winning six of their first seven of the ten game road trip. The Rays head to Anaheim to take on the Los Angeles Angels for three games before heading home to St. Petersburg.

The Rays are 18-11 which is a 101 win pace, so it’s hard to complain about too much that they’ve done on the field. They jumped the Toronto Blue Jays in claiming second place in the American League East sitting 2.0 games behind the New York Yankees. The Toronto Blue Jays are 3.5 games back in the division. The Baltimore Orioles have jumped into fourth at 8.5 games back while the Boston Red Sox have had a beginning to forget sitting at 10-19 and 10.0 games back just a month into the season.

Schedule

Monday 9:38 PM: Jeffrey Springs vs Noah Syndergaard
Tuesday 9:38 PM: Corey Kluber vs Reid Detmers
Wednesday 7:07 PM: Shane McClanahan vs Shohei Ohtani

Jeffrey Springs will make his fourth career major league start in game one as the Rays look to transition him into a starter or bulk guy. This will be his fourth appearance in a row on a typical starter’s schedule. He has thrown 2.0, 2.2, and 3.1 innings in these appearances with 32, 43, and 31 pitches. If things go well he will likely be limited to four innings or 50-60 pitches maximum.

Noah Syndergaard has had a good start to his post New York Mets career, although it’s been much different than before he underwent TJS surgery. From 2015-2021 he posted a 3.32 ERA/2.93 FIP/3.17 xFIP over 718.0 innings. This year he’s put up a 2.63 ERA/3.32 FIP/4.26 xFIP. The thing that stands out the most is the significant drop in strikeout rate from 26.0% to 14.6%. His walk rate has stayed low at 5.2% compared to his 5.6% career rate. His velocity is down to 94.4 mph on both his sinker and four-seam fastball from 97-98 mph he consistently posted before Tommy John surgery. It’s still plenty of velocity, but the whiff rate has cratered from near 20% to 8%. He adds a 88.6 mph changeup and 84.0 mph slider that he throws to all batters. He will throw an occasional 77.3 mph curveball. Unlike most pitchers who throw a curveball sparingly he uses it to get strikeouts and it has been a very effective two strike pitch.

Reid Detmers was the Los Angeles Angels first round pick (10th overall) in the 2020 MLB draft. He’s known for a great curveball and command. In 42.2 major league innings he’s put up a lackluster 6.33 ERA/5.37 FIP/4.99 xFIP. He doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts (19.3% strikeout rate) and walks a few more than you’d like (9.4% walk rate). The left hander works off a 93.0 mph four-seam fastball. He pairs it with a 72.4 mph curveball and 82.1 mph slider. He will add a 84.0 mph changeup that he has yet to throw to a left handed batter.

Wednesday night’s game features a premiere pitching matchup on national television (FS1 nationally and Bally Sports Sun locally). Shane McClanahan has been the Rays best pitcher since the beginning of last season and Shohei Ohtani is the most talented baseball player on the planet. Ohtani has gotten off a great start on the mound with a 3.08 ERA/1.52 FIP/1.53 xFIP over 26.1 innings. Ohtani throws a 97.2 mph four-seam fastball as his primary pitch. It is up almost two mph over last year’s average. Against right handed batters he throws a 84.7 mph slider while he will go to a 89.8 mph split finger or 78.7 mph curveball against left handed batters. He will throw all three secondaries against batters from both sides of the plate in small quantities.

Mike Trout isn’t ready to give up his claim to best position player in the game.

The Angels lead the majors in runs scored with 139. The Rays aren’t far behind at 130. The Angels have hit .241/.322/.405 and put up a 118 wRC+ that is tied with the Rays for second best in the majors behind the New York Yankees at 119.

Even though Mike Trout turned 30 he still is the best positional player in baseball. He has a career .305/.419/.584 line and 173 wRC+. This year he’s upped that to a .307/.430/.625 line and 210 wRC+. Wander Franco might have his eyes on claiming that crown in the near future, but for now Trout still remains the best player I’ve ever seen.

Ohtani is the reigning MVP due to the combination of great pitching and hitting. In his bid at a repeat he has performed on the pitching side, but the offense has been mediocre. He’s hit .235/.302/.383 and put up a 101 wRC+ over 126 plate appearances. He’s still a guy you want to watch every night because he can do something you’ve never seen before.

Taylor Ward has had the breakout offensive performance of the month. He’s hitting an absurd .364/.490/.675 and putting up a 243 wRC+. He’s running an equally ridiculous .440 BABIP. It would be great for him to start the path towards regression this week.

Brandon Marsh (125 wRC+), Jared Walsh (123 wRC+), and Anthony Rendon ( 107 wRC+) have had good starts.