The Rays just returned from a road trip that started off well enough — they won three out of five in Toronto and two out of three in Boston. But then getting swept by the worst team in one of the baseball’s worst divisions? With two close extra inning losses and one blowout? And injuries to two key everyday players (Keven Kiermaier and Wander Franco)?
The New York Yankees continue to pull away from the pack in the American Lague East holding a 14.0 game lead over the Red Sox, 15.5 game lead over the Rays, 16.5 game lead over the Blue Jays, and 18.5 games over the Baltimore Orioles. The top three teams hold the wild card spots in the American League however the Seattle Mariners are tied with the Blue Jays and the race is tightening.
Monday 7:10 PM: Brayan Bello vs Matt Wisler
Tuesday 7:10 PM: Chris Sale vs Corey Kluber
Wednesday 7:10 PM: Connor Seabold vs Shane McClanahan
Brayan Bello made his major league debut last week against the Rays. Facing the same team twice in a row is tough for any pitcher much less one making his transition to the majors. The Rays put up four runs in 4.0 innings while drawing three walks and striking out twice. He leaned heavily on a 96.7 mph sinker and 88.5 mph changeup throwing them nearly 40% of the time. He worked in a 85.2 mph slider mostly against right handed batters but was willing to throw it against left handed batters.
Chris Sale is set to make his season debut after fracturing a rib in the off season. In his last outing he had wobbly command in AAA. He took his frustration out on the tv in the clubhouse after issuing five walks in 3.2 innings. [Note to Rays: consider protective plexiglass for clubhouse equipment. Guard dugout phone previously destroyed by David Ortiz]. Reports are his stuff was back. Last year Sale was eased back into his traditional workload after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020. He threw a 93.6 mph four-seam fastball, 78.0 mph slider, and 86.4 mph changeup. He rarely throws the changeup to left handed batters.
Connor Seabold has made a handful of major league starts that have been disastrous. In four starts (14.1 innings) he’s posted a 10.67 ERA/7.72 FIP/5.66 xFIP. These results aren’t what we should expect from the talented right hander. He was the primary return (along with Nick Pivetta) that the Red Sox received in the Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree trade with the Phillies in 2020. He hasn’t gotten many whiffs, but the biggest problem has been the 3.14 HR/9 rate. Seabold works off a 91.9 mph four-seam fastball. His primary offspeed pitch is a 80.3 mph changeup that he is willing to throw to batters of both sides of the plate. Against right handed batters he adds a 85.1 mph slider. His best pitch is the changeup by far.
The Red Sox offense is very top heavy
As a team the Red Sox are hitting .261/.325/.416 and putting up a 106 wRC+. Their 410 runs are fourth most in the league. They don’t hit for a lot of power or run the bases well, but they do get on base.
Most of the damage has been done by Rafael Devers (170 wrC+), JD Martinez (144 wRC+), and Xander Bogaerts (136 wRC+). Devers leads the team with 19 homers, but has not played much this past week as he’s dealing with a back issue.
Christian Vazquez (114 wRC+), Franchy Cordero (107 wRC+), Trevor Story (96 wRC+), and Alex Verdugo (89 wRC+) round out their most days lineup.
Jarren Duran (118 wRC+) has performed well since being called up.
Former Ray Rob Refsnyder has been on fire after being called up by hitting .338/.408/.554 and putting up a 167 wRC+ over 76 plate appearances.
The Rays look to keep the Red Sox from winning their first series against an American League East opponent. The Red Sox are coming off a four game split with the Yankees after going 0-7 in their first seven series against their divisional opponents.