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Series Preview: Rays vs Brewers

St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in an exciting series that included two walk offs for the Rays. Now the Rays host a family reunion against the Milwaukee Brewers. Former Rays Willy Adames, Mike Brosseau, Hunter Renfroe and Brad Boxberger return to Tropicana Field, and if Ozzie Timmons is doing dugout pushups it will be for the other guys.

The New York Yankees continue to accumulate a massive lead in the American League East. Second through fourth place are only 1.0 game apart. The Boston Red Sox trail the Yankees by 12.0 games. The Toronto Blue Jays trail by 12.5 games and the Rays trail by 13.0 games. The Baltimore Orioles trail by 19.5 games. As things currently stand the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Rays would claim the three Wild Card spots. The Rays are 2.5 games up on the Cleveland Guardians for the last Wild Card.


Tuesday 7:10 PM: Brandon Woodruff vs Shane Baz
Wednesday 12:10 PM: Eric Lauer vs Jeffrey Springs

Brandon Woodruff has been one of the best starters in the majors over the last three years, but this year things have not gone well. He’s posted a 4.74 ERA/3.82 FIP/3.45 xFIP over 43.2 innings. The FIP and xFIP are good but the ERA has not been. His 28.5% strikeout rate and 7.0% walk rate are what you would expect. The biggest problem has been the longball. He’s allowed 1.44 HR/9 after coming in just below 1.0 over the last four seasons. Woodruff mixes his fastballs between a 96.0 mph four-seam fastball and 95.4 mph sinker. The four-seam fastball plays up in the zone where it has an impressive 27.2% whiff rate and the sinker is designed to get contact on the ground. This year the problem has been a sinker that doesn’t sink, to the point that the grounders have become line drives. He adds a 86.1 mph changeup, 88.7 mph slider, and 83.6 mph curveball. The curveball is used to get ahead early in the count and not get a whiff late in the count.

Eric Lauer has taken a step forward after being traded from the San Diego Padres. This year he’s posted a 3.89 ERA/4.87 FIP/3.83 xFIP over 74.0 innings. He has a solid 24.9% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate. The FIP suggests he should have allowed more runs because of a 18.0% FB/HR rate, but the xFIP suggests the ERA is where he should be moving forward. Lauer works off a 93.5 mph four-seam fastball that he throws up in the zone and is his highest whiff rate pitch. He mixes in a 87.9 mph slider, 78.4 mph curveball, and 91.0 mph cutter to complete his four pitch mix. The slider is his most effective breaking ball.

The Brewers are built on pitching and a middle of the pack offense.

As a team the Brewers are hitting .234/.313/.404 and putting up a 100 wRC+. They strikeout (23.6%) but also draw their fair share of walks (9.1%). They hit for power (.170 ISO) and are willing to steal a bag (44 stolen bases).

Willy Adames has been the Brewers best position player putting up a .216/.286/.485 line and 112 wRC+. He leads the team with 15 homers.

Mike Brosseau (138 wRC+) has been a solid bench player and filled in recently while Kolten Wong has been on the Injured List.

Christian Yelich (102 wRC+) has been fine, but hasn’t been the MVP caliber player he showed his first two years in Milwaukee. It’s a decline that is approaching three years, so this just might be what he is going forward.

Hunter Renfroe (115 wRC+), Rowdy Rellez (119 wRC+), and Victor Caratini (131 wRC+) have provided offensive support.

Andrew McCutchen (92 wRC+) has been mediocre as a designated hitter.