The Tampa Bay Rays depart Boston with some momentum after winning two series against American League East rivals. The Rays will stop in Cincinnati to take on the Reds before they head back to Tropicana Field ahead of the All Star break.
The Rays have moved into second place in the American League East regained ownership of the top Wild Card spot. The New York Yankees continue to pace Major League Baseball and hold a 14.5 game lead over the Rays, 15.0 game lead over the Red Sox, 15.5 games over the Blue Jays, and 20.5 games over the Orioles.
In contrast, the Reds are in last place in the NL Central, 17.5 games behind the leaders and 15 games out of the Wild Card race. This may seem to be an easy series for the Rays, but the Reds do have some strong young starting pitching going for them this series.
Friday 6:40 PM: Shane McClanahan vs Luis Castillo
Saturday 4:10 PM: Drew Rasmussen vs Hunter Greene
Sunday 1:40 PM: Shane Baz vs Nick Lodolo
After a somewhat disappointing but still good 2021 season Luis Castillo has built upon his 2020 breakout season. Over 64.0 innings he’s posted a 3.09 ERA/3.23 FIP/3.47 xFIP. His strikeout rate is down to 24.7% and his walk rate has held steady at 8.2%. The biggest reason for his success in 2022 has been the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. Castillo works off a high octane fastball that he splits between a 96.8 mph four-seam fastball and 96.5 mph sinker. He works in a 88.2 mph changeup and 86.6 mph slider. He is willing to throw all four pitches to batters from both sides of the plate without changing his rates very much. Hitters have been able to do damage on his sinker low in the zone, but his four-seamer up in the zone has been his best pitch.
Hunter Greene has been one of the games’ most exciting prospects who can throw well over 100 mph. This year he’s been electric but with one giant flaw. He’s posted a 28.2% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate. A near 20% strike-walk rate is elite, but he’s put up a 6.01 ERA/5.67 FIP/4.17 xFIP. The problem has been homers. He’s allowed a very high 19.6% HR/FB rate while allowing an extreme 53.3% flyball rate. This has led to 2.50 HR/9. Greene works off a 98.4 mph four-seam fastball. He’s primarily been a two-pitch pitcher leaning on an 87.6 mph slider as his breaking ball of choice. Against left-handed batters he has mixed in an 89.5 mph changeup at a low frequency. Despite the velocity of his fastball hitters have been able to do a lot of damage with a .462 wOBA against the pitch. The slider is his go to putaway pitch.
Nick Lodolo is a very talented young pitcher that made his debut earlier this year. In four starts he’s posted a 4.19 ERA/4.03 FIP/3.10 xFIP over 19.1 innings. He’s struck out 30.3% of hitters while walking 9.0% of batters faced. Lodolo works off a 94.2 mph sinker that he throws nearly 60% of the time. He mixes in a 82.6 mph curveball and 87.9 mph changeup. His curveball is his go to putaway pitch.
The Reds offense lacks a punch.
The Cincinnati offense has hit .238/.307/.375 and it’s 87 wRC+ is fourth lowest in the majors. The Reds defense has put their pitchers in a tough spot with a -20 DRS that places them in the bottom five in the league.
Brandon Drury (131 wRC+) and Tyler Stephenson (128 wRC+) have been the only pluses on the offensive side of the plate.
Tommy Pham (106 wRC+) has been fine showing power (11 homers) while posting a good OBP (.338).
Tyler Naquin (109 wRC+) and Kyle Farmer (104 wRC+) have been solid.
Nick Senzel (75 wRC+) has struggled during his transition to the majors after being the second overall pick in the 2016 draft.
Joey Votto (98 wRC+) is the face of the franchise but approaching the end of his usefulness. Mike Moustakas (73 wRC+) has really struggled over the last year and a half.