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Series Preview: Red Sox vs. Rays

A look ahead to the upcoming three-game set against Tampa

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation Blog

DRay’s Bay

The Opponent in one sentence

The Rays aren’t quite at the bottom of the league but that’s more a product of some hard tanks around baseball because Tampa is clearly not a team that is going to contend in 2018, though they are catching fire lately.



Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 6, Rays 1


Up. After getting off to a really bad start, the Rays are actually one of the hottest teams in all of baseball right now. They’ve been fortunate with a soft part of their schedule having just played the Orioles and a reeling Twins team, but we know how annoying it can be to blame success on the ease of opponents. Either way, the Rays have won six in a row and seven of their last eight games.

Pitching Matchups

4/27: Drew Pomeranz vs. Blake Snell, 7:05 PM ET

Pomeranz is going to be taking the mound on Friday for this series opener, making his second start since his return from the disabled list. The lefty’s first start, which came in Oakland, was fine but left some to be desired. His swing and miss stuff was good and that’s a positive sign, but the efficiency and general command left something to be desired. Of course, that sounds a lot like healthy Pomeranz, too, who has proven to be very good over the last two years. He struggled some in four starts against the Rays last year, pitching to a 5.12 ERA over 19 13 innings with 26 strikeouts and 12 walks.

Snell has been one of the more talented young pitchers in baseball for a few years now and isn’t too far removed from being a top prospect, but up until now he hadn’t made good on that potential. He’s done just that and then some so far in 2018, as he’s showing the best command of his career to go with a jump in stuff. Through five starts the lefty has pitched to a 2.54 ERA with 32 strikeouts and just 10 walks over 28 13 innings. The Red Sox have already seen Snell once and they struggled mightily against him, failing to score over 5 23 innings with just three hits. He features a mid-90s fastball to go with a changeup, a slider and a curveball.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4/28: David Price vs. Yonny Chirinos, 4:05 PM ET

Price has been outstanding this season and the concern after he left his last outing with numbness in his throwing hand has gone away completely. Price’s last outing in Oakland didn’t have the greatest stat line, but that would have looked a lot better if he had been pulled just one batter earlier than he was as the lefty was largely outstanding for that start. His command has been absolutely incredible to start this year, and while the swing and miss hasn’t been there to the say degree as in the past it should come back and it hasn’t been needed. Price’s first two starts of 2018 was against Tampa Bay and in them he tossed 14 innings of scoreless baseball in which he allowed just seven hits and three walks with ten strikeouts. Pretty good!

Chirinos is a good young talent who started the year in the Rays bullpen but quickly moved into the rotation. His first start or two was misguidedly referred to as bullpen days, but the 24-year-old righty is a true starter no matter what anyone says. Whatever you want to call him, he’s tossed 24 23 innings over his first five appearances and he’s pitched to an impressive 2.92 ERA with 21 strikeouts and seven walks. The Red Sox have seen Chirinos twice this year and he’s tossed nine scoreless innings on four hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. He throws a mid-90s sinker, a splitter and a slider and is very hard to square up.

4/29: Rick Porcello vs. TBD, 1:05 PM ET

I’m not even really sure what else there is to say about Porcello at this point. The dude is just straight dealing every time he goes out there. Right now he has a 1.93 ERA over five starts with just about a strikeout per inning and just one walk per nine innings. He also hasn’t allowed a home run yet this year. His command has been on point and every one of his pitches is working at the highest level. Like Price, Porcello’s first two starts of the year came against Tampa. In them he allowed four runs over 12 23 innings with 11 strikeouts and one walk.

The Red Sox and the Rays have met three times this year and I’m still not sure how to write about their bullpen days, so let’s just move on.

Old Friends

Kevin Cash is the lone old friend on this roster, and he is the Rays current manager. There’s...well, there’s not much else to say about Boston’s former backup catcher.

Notable Position Players

Carlos Gomez is probably the biggest name in the Rays lineup right now who is healthy, but he’s had an awful start to the year. He’s striking out a ton, barely ever walking and struggling on balls in play. He did have a big walk off home run recently, though, and he makes a show out of those.

Denard Span has had a solid year at the top of Tampa’s lineup after the veteran came over to the Rays in the Evan Longoria deal. He’s not hitting for much power, but that’s not a big surprise. He is, on the other hand, making a lot of contact and drawing a bunch of walks. That’s what you want from a leadoff hitter.

C.J. Cron is having a solid first year in Tampa, and while his low walk rate and high strikeout rate don’t bode well he’s showing off legitimate power away from the west coast air.

Joey Wendle has been one of the best hitters for the Rays this year, though a lot of that has been driven by presumably lucky results on balls in play.

Mallex Smith is starting to come into his own, and while he has also benefited from BABIP he’s showing off better-than-expected contact skills and average patience to go with his plus speed.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson Ramos has shown a disappointing lack of power as the Rays’ starting catcher to start this year.

Brad Miller is always prone to hot and cold streaks but he’s been mostly cold to start the year, which happens a lot due to his contact issues.

Daniel Robertson has surprisingly been the best Rays hitter to start the year. He’s hitting for power, has a high BABIP and is walking more than he strikes out. That’s....that’s what you want.

Adeiny Hechavarria has been better than expected at the plate but his real value comes from his glove at shortstop.

Bullpen Snapshot

Alex Colomé has had a tough year as the Rays closer after a winter filled with trade rumors. Most of his struggles have been because of a loss of control, and those struggles are starting to dissipate as the year goes on. For what it’s worth, he has two blown saves early on this year and both have come at the hands of the Red Sox.

The Rays have a couple of solid, though unspectacular righties in the back of their bullpen along with Colomé. Sergio Romo is the most well-known as the former closer for the Giants, and he’s struggled with command to start this year. Chaz Roe has been a little better, though bullpen games have caused him to pitch earlier in some games. Jose Alvarado is also an important member of this bullpen as their top situational lefty.

I’d be remiss not to mention Jonny Venters, who just recently joined the Rays major-league roster. You may remember Venters from Braves teams earlier this decade. The one dominant reliever made his first MLB appearance since 2012 this past Wednesday, and the lefty has undergone three Tommy John surgeries over his career with two coming in the time between his last MLB appearance and this stint. It’s an incredible comeback story.


Kevin Kiermaier is the best position player on the Rays, but he suffered a thumb injury just a couple weeks into the season and it required surgery. He was recently moved to the 60-day disabled list and will be out until at least mid-to-late June.

Matt Duffy was supposed to be a starting infielder for the Rays this year but he’s been out all season with a hamstring injury. He’s starting a rehab stint now and could be back at some point this weekend.

Jose De Leon and Brent Honeywell are a couple of top prospects who were expected to be in Tampa’s rotation this year but both suffered major injuries that required Tommy John surgery.

Nate Eovaldi has had a series of elbow issues over his career and another came up at the end of spring training. He’s making good progress but is still at least over a month away from returning to Tampa’s rotation.

Weather Forecast

Friday’s going to be a tough one to get in with rain in the forecast off and on for the entire evening. I would expect at least a delay and possibly an outright cancellation. Saturday looks like it’s going to be a great day and Sunday should be fine, though there is some chance for showers through the afternoon there, too.