The Tampa Bay Rays treated their fans to a four game sweep of the Boston Red Sox, but they still need to face one of the hottest teams in the league, the Baltimore Orioles, before the All-Star break. The Orioles haven’t had a good stretch of baseball in quite a while so to call this ten game winning streak unexpected would be an understatement. The winning streak has also put them above .500.
The New York Yankees have hit a road bump as they’ve lost six of their last ten but still hold a commanding lead in the American League East. The Rays have hold of second place and the top wild card 13.0 games behind the Yankees. The Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays are tied for the third wild card and 15.5 games behind. The Orioles have climbed to 17.0 games back.
Friday 7:10 PM: Tyler Wells vs Luis Patino
Saturday 4:10 PM: Dean Kremer vs TBA
Sunday 1:40 PM: Jordan Lyles vs Corey Kluber
Tyler Wells has been great by ERA (3.28) but more mediocre by FIP (4.20) and xFIP (4.70). This is due to a very low 16.6% strikeout rate even with a good 6.0% walk rate. His strikeout rate has plummeted from his 29.0% rate when he worked as a 1-2 inning reliever. The Rays have done well against Wells scoring seven runs in 6.1 innings this year. They are responsible for two of the four starts he has allowed three or more runs in his 17 starts this season. Wells throws a 93.7 mph four-seam fastball as his primary pitch throwing it just over 40% of the time. Against right handed batters he leans on an 87.5 mph slider as his secondary pitch of choice and against left handed batters he uses an 86.8 mph changeup. He is willing to throw both pitches against batters from the other side of the plate but the frequency is much lower. He will add in a 77.9 mph curveball to keep batters off balance.
Dean Kremer missed the beginning of the season but once healthy enough to get on the mound he’s been quite good. He’s posted a 2.15 ERA/3.32 FIP/4.65 xFIP after posting an ERA and FIP around 7 last year. He has a solid but not spectacular 19.4% strikeout rate and 7.7% walk rate. The biggest change has been the ability to keep the ball in the park with a 0.48 HR/9 rate. Kremer throws a 93.5 mph four-seam fastball and 87.2 mph cutter as his two primary pitchers. Against left handed batters he will mix in an 84.2 mph changeup. He hasn’t used his 76.0 mph curveball much at all this year after it being his best swing and miss pitch in previous seasons.
Jordan Lyles has been the veteran innings eater the Orioles have needed. He’s posted a 4.37 ERA/4.14 FIP/4.28 xFIP over 105.0 innings. He’s posted a 18.9% strikeout rate and 7.0% walk rate that are inline with his career rates. In his first start of the season the Rays put up five runs in 5.0 innings in one of his worst starts of the year. Lyles mixes his fastball between a 91.9 mph four-seam fastball and 90.9 mph sinker. Against right handed batters he goes to an 80.0 mph slider as his go to breaking ball. Against left handed batters he uses an 86.4 mph as his offspeed pitch of choice. He will mix in a 79.1 mph curveball mostly against left handed batters instead of his slider.
The offense is still a work in progress.
Most of the progress this year has come from the pitching staff, specifically a bullpen that has many weapons and are top 6 by ERA, FIP, and xFIP while throwing the fifth most innings. The offense has lagged behind, but isn’t terrible. They are hitting .232/.301/.383 and putting up a 93 wRC+.
The top of the lineup is solid without a big middle of the order bat. Trey Mancini (120 wRC+), Ryan Mountcastle (118 wRC+), Austin Hays (116 wRC+), Anthony Santander (113 wRC+), and Cedric Mullins II (104 wRC+) have been good performers.
Adley Rutschman made his MLB debut the last time the Rays faced the Orioles in Baltimore and his transition has taken time but is starting to show positive signs. He’s hitting .216/.302/.399 and putting up a 99 wRC+.
Rougned Odor (82 wRC+), Ramon Urias (94 wRC+), Ryan McKenna (85 wRC+), and Jorge Mateo (66 wRC+) round out the Baltimore offense.