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Rays Series Preview: Will the Rangers roll over?

The Rangers are meh. The Rays are in playoff position. Let’s not mess things up.

Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers
Jason Adam made this face the last time he faced the Rangers
Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays did what they needed to on their trip north of the border: They didn’t get swept, and they didn’t overuse their pitchers. The Rays hold onto their wild card spot as the season winds to a close, and Shane McClanahan came back looking like Shane McClanahan.

The Rays possess the third wild card spot trailing the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays by 0.5 game. The Rays hold a 4.5 game lead on the Baltimore Orioles. With 19 games to play FanGraphs evaluates the Rays odds of making the playoffs at 97.1%.

The three game series against the Texas Rangers starts off the Rays final homestand of the season.

Schedule

Friday 7:10 PM: Martin Perez vs Corey Kluber
Satuday 6:10 PM: Jon Gray vs Ryan Yarbrough (likely following an opener)
Sunday 1:10 PM: Glenn Otto vs Jeffrey Springs

Martin Perez returned to Texas on a one year deal. It was the organization he made his debut and was one of the top pitching prospects in the game. Perez has posted his best Major League season and it isn’t particularly close. He’s posted a 2.77 ERA/3.21 FIP/3.65 xFIP. He owns a career 4.45 ERA/4.36 FIP/4.45 xFIP over 1,274.2 innings. His 21.8% strikeout rate is a career high while his 7.9% walk rate is in line with his career rate. His 0.58 HR/9 is where he’s seen a significant gain. Perez throws a 92.7 mph sinker, 84.3 mph changeup, and 89.9 mph cutter. He will infrequently throw a 78.8 mph curveball mostly as a free strike early in the count. The changeup is the only pitch that get very many whiffs.

Jon Gray has become the pitcher many fans thought he could be if he left Colorado. He’s posted a 3.79 ERA/3.37 FIP/3.25 xFIP over 107.0 innings. He’s posted a 27.4% strikeout rate and 7.7% walk rate. The strikeout rate is up 3% while his strikeout rate has remained constant. Gray throws a 96.0 mph four-seam fastball and 85.2 mph slider as his two main offerings. Against left handed batters he adds a 88.8 mph changeup. The slider is his go to putaway pitch.

Glenn Otto has been a lackluster backend starter that the Rangers will look to upgrade this winter. He’s posted a 4.71 ERA/5.12 FIP/5.02 xFIP over 114.2 innings. His 17.8% strikeout rate isn’t good enough when you’re posting a 11.6% walk rate. He could be considered lucky allowing a .252 BABIP. Otto throws a 92.3 mph sinker, 81.1 mph slider, 81.3 mph curveball, and 88.1 mph changeup. He rarely throws the changeup against right handed batters but will throw the slider against left handed batter at a reduced rate. His slider does post a solid whiff rate, but he isn’t able to get ahead in the count often enough to take advantage of it.

Nathaniel Lowe has broken out in his second full season.

As a team the Rangers have been fine offensively. They have hit .243/.306/.401 and put up a 101 wRC+. They hit for power and lead the league with 119 stolen bases.

Former Rays first baseman Nathaniel Lowe has hit his stride in his second season with the Rangers. He’s hitting .309/.363/.503 and putting up a 147 wRC+ over 570 plate appearances. He is one of four Rangers with more than 20 homers (Corey Seager, Adolis Garcia, and Marcus Semien).

Corey Seager (116 wRC+) and Marcus Semien (107 wRC+) haven’t been bad, but they haven’t made as big an impact offensively as they expected when committing nearly half a billion dollars in free agent contracts last winter.

Former Rays farmhand Jonah Heim (104 wRC+) has really broken out at the plate while continuing to be a good defensive backstop. Adolis Garcia (115 wRC+) followed up his rookie year with a good sophomore campaign, and top prospect Josh Jung (127 wRC+) was called up last week and has produced well at the plate though his swing and miss rate is worrisome.

The Rays split a four-game series in Texas in the first half of the season.

Poll

How many games will the Rays win against the Rangers?

  • 0%
    0
    (0 votes)
  • 10%
    1
    (4 votes)
  • 60%
    2
    (24 votes)
  • 30%
    3
    (12 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now