Tampa Bay Rays
We last saw the Rays a couple of weekends ago, when they showed up in Seattle on Edgar Martínez weekend and swept the Mariners in three close contests the M's could've won with a little effort. Now it's time for the rematch on their (literal, indoor) turf.
Tampa Bay currently holds a Wild Card position in the standings, virtually tied with Cleveland and a game-and-a-half up on the Oakland A's, so they're playing for more than pride. They've managed this with guts and guile, mostly; their pitching staff is a patchwork of starter Charlie Morton, closer Emilio Pagán, and a revolving door of arms, while the lineup (currently missing All-Star second baseman Brandon Lowe and outfielder Avisaíl García, both on the injured list) depends on trade-deadline acquisitions Eric Sogard and Jesús Aguilar for respectability. Other than those two late-July transplants, the Rays don't have any .300 hitters, though first baseman Ji-man Choi and outfielder Tommy Pham have very good OBP numbers of .350+.
For this series, the Rays will start Brendan McKay on Monday and Morton on Wednesday, with Tuesday still not announced. If they stick to rotation, it'll be Jalen Beeks, who has shuffled between starting and "headlining" all year. The Mariners will miss their former farmhand Ryan Yarbrough this time; you recall Yarbrough was denied a shutout of the M's in Seattle when his manager pulled him with two out in the ninth leading 1-0 for some reason. Beeks started and got a no-decision in that series in Seattle, while Morton got the win in his game at the Ballpark by Elliott Bay despite uncharacteristically giving up four runs. The Mariners will counter with Marco Gonzales, still looking for that elusive 13th win; Tommy Milone; and Wade LeBlanc, the latter two possibly once again following a pointless "opener" gambit and exactly the same trio that pitched against the Rays in Seattle.
|vs. AL West||13-8|
Who’s Hot & Not
Last 10 games
.346/.433/.615, 5 XBH, 2 RBI, 2 SB
.294/.385/.353, 2 2B, 1 RBI
.286/.359/.314, 1 2B, 3 RBI
.143/.189/.257, 2 XBH, 3 RBI
.135/.175/.162, 1 2B, 2 RBI
.179/.281/.357, 3 XBH, 5 RBI
Last 3 series vs. Seattle
|8/11/19||TB 1, SEA 0|
|8/10/19||TB 5, SEA 4|
|8/9/19||TB 5, SEA 3|
|6/10/18||SEA 5, TB 3|
|6/9/18||TB 7, SEA 3|
|6/8/18||SEA 4, TB 3|
|6/7/18||SEA 5, TB 4|
|6/3/18||SEA 2, TB 1|
|6/2/18||SEA 3, TB 1|
|6/1/18||SEA 4, TB 3|
Kevin Cash: In his fifth year as skipper of the Rays, his hometown team, ex-catcher Cash is developing a reputation as an out-of-the-box strategist, at least as far as pitching goes. In addition to popularizing the "opener," the Rays have opted to use the starting rotation concept as more of a mild suggestion than a strict rule. Both last year and this Cash has not had a steady starting five to use anyway, as injuries have been plentiful, and it's an interesting way to go when you don't have confidence in your starters (this is different from what the Mariners and other teams have done with the opener "stratagem" in that the M's still use the ostensible starter every turn for as long as he can go).
The Rays will participate, of course, in "players weekend" August 23-25, when teams wear different jerseys with more playful player-chosen nicknames on the back. Cash was pranked by someone in the Rays' clubhouse (presumably) when the nicknames to be used were announced on social media and Cash's was "Rocco's Seat Warmer," a reference to longtime Tampa Bay player and current Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli and implying that Cash was merely holding his job until Baldelli became available to take it. Cash seemed to take the prank in stride, but will not be wearing the nickname.
Fun fact: Cash is the only big-league manager to play in both the Little League World Series (Florida Northside Little League, 1989) and the College World Series (Florida State Seminoles, 1998-99).
Mike Zunino: One of the great busts of the Jack Zduriencik era, Mike Z never fulfilled his promise with the Mariners. Drafted third overall in 2012, Zunino was rushed to the Majors after just 52 games at Triple-A in 2013. Unsurprisingly, he was overmatched—he posted a line of just .214/.290/.329 in his rookie season, and was even worse in 2014 (.199/.254/.404). In six seasons in Seattle, Zunino amassed numbers that barely reached Medoza line: .207/.276/.406 to go with over 700 strikeouts. Hoping for a fresh start in Tampa Bay, Zunino is having his statistically worst season yet and has lost playing time to Travis d'Arnaud. Of course, Zunino's defense is still exceptional, and that's what keeps him around. But when you're batting .169, how long can that last?
Zunino was traded to the Rays along with Guillermo Heredia last November for Mallex Smith and Jake Fraley in one of Jerry Dipoto's best trades to date.
|Tampa Bay Rays||(2008 - present)|