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Series Preview: Rays at Pirates

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Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Rays are back to being good, sitting 2 1/2 games back of the Yankees and in third place in both the American League East and the AL Wild Card race. They’re puttering along at 11-11 in June and lost two of three at home to the Orioles over the weekend. Reinforcements are on the way: Tampa Bay traded for Adeiny Hechavarria on Monday, and Wilson Ramos, signed on the cheap after a torn ACL with the Nationals at the end of 2016, made his season debut on Sunday.

The Pirates (35-41) won two of three in St. Louis last weekend.

Schedule

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. - Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05 ERA) vs. Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.09), TV: Root

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. - Blake Snell (0-4, 4.71) vs. Ivan Nova (7-5, 3.06), TV: Root

Thursday, 7:05 p.m. - Chris Archer (6-4, 3.88) vs. Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.33), TV: Root

Rays

40-38 (41-37 Pythag, 4.91 RS/G, 4.64 RA/G)

Offense

Tampa Bay has hit the second-most home runs in Major League Baseball (121). The Rays are also the AL’s top team by Fangraphs’ Base Running metric, so their position players rank sixth in the majors as a group in fWAR (14.5). Corey Dickerson (.330/.371/.587, 17 HR) is seventh among position players in the majors in fWAR (2.9). Logan Morrison (22 HR, .574 SLG) is frequently name-dropped in discussions of the home-run spike. Steven Souza has 14 dingers, Evan Longoria 12 and Tim Beckham, long after being taken first overall in 2008 (just ahead of Pedro Alvarez), has 10. Matt Duffy, Kevin Kiermaier, Brad Miller and Colby Rasmus are hurt. Wilson Ramos was excellent with the Nationals last year (.307/.354/.496, 22 HR) before getting injured. Mallex Smith hit two of his four career homers in one game in Pittsburgh last year with the Braves.

Pitching

The Rays’ pitching staff is 13th in the majors by fWAR; the starters rank a solid ninth, with the relievers at 17th. Chris Archer (2.88 FIP) is third among pitchers in fWAR (3.1). Alex Cobb doesn’t strike out a ton of guys. The ballyhooed Blake Snell had an excellent several weeks in Triple-A Durham and will make his first start back in the majors on Wednesday. That pushes useful swingman Erasmo Ramirez back into a bullpen anchored by Alex Colome (8.39 K/9, 3.15 BB/9). Danny Farquhar (8.74 K/9, 5.82 BB/9) leads the team in appearances.

Outlook

The Pirates’ good pitchers line up with the Rays’ good pitchers, with an advantage to Ivan Nova over Blake Snell, but what do I know? I don’t even know if matching up is a good thing. The Pirates mostly looked pretty good in St. Louis, though, so perhaps their bats can keep up with the Tampa Bay’s.

Poll

Stinging predictions: How does this series go?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Pirates sweep!
    (29 votes)
  • 53%
    Pirates 2-1
    (113 votes)
  • 23%
    Rays 2-1
    (51 votes)
  • 9%
    Rays sweep
    (20 votes)
213 votes total Vote Now