The Red Sox are headed to Tampa to answer the question of just how bad they actually are right now.
|BOSTON RED SOX||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Mookie Betts, RF||Logan Forsythe, 2B|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B||Tim Beckham, SS|
|Xander Bogaerts, SS||Evan Longoria, 3B|
|David Ortiz, DH||Logan Morrison, 1B|
|Hanley Ramirez, 1B||Desmond Jennings, CF|
|Jackie Bradley Jr., CF||Oswaldo Arcia, RF|
|Bryce Brentz, LF||Taylor Motter, LF|
|Sandy Leon, C||Nick Franklin, DH|
|Marco Hernandez, 3B||Curt Casali, C|
|Starting Pitcher -- Eduardo Rodriguez||Starting Pitcher -- Blake Snell|
The situation is simple: the Red Sox have been struggling, but the Rays have dropped
ten eleven straight. Baseball being baseball dictates that even a team in that situation isn't easy pickings for a sweep. But if the Red Sox can't win this series? The sky won't be falling. It'll have fallen.
That includes today's game, too, even if it does come with Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound. He had a few positive signs in his last outing, but has still yet to look like his old self since his (rushed) return from injury. Unfortunately for him, as bad as the Rays are, the one thing they've proved capable of thus far in 2016 is hit lefties. They hold a 122 wRC+ against southpaws on the season, which is...really not what you're hoping for when trying to get Rodriguez on a roll.
On the bright side, Tampa Bay neither pitches nor fields very well which...wait, are we talking about the Rays here? This can't be right...
Blake Snell, at the very least, is a good pitcher. But he's also very young with a total of 15 major league innings to his names. Said innings have been...mixed. Not too many earned runs, but a major penchant for walks over strikeouts (six and six in this most recent callup) with plenty of hits and a few unearned runs making things look better than they perhaps actually are. He might not be entirely ready for the majors just yet, and the Red Sox will hopefully expose that if it's true.
On a small side note: while Xander Bogaerts has said he needs a day, and John Farrell has acknowledged it, he's in the lineup today. Slightly concerning, but only if they're actually just not giving him a day off. The Red Sox are off as a team on Thursday, and the organization has shown a preference for getting players back-to-back days off using such breaks in the schedule. Given that, the time to take up arms is not now, but after Bogaerts has played all three games this series. Which he probably won't.
First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.