The Tampa Bay Rays continue to add wins with a 23-15 record over the first month plus of the season that would equate to a 98-win pace. The Rays won two out of three against the Detroit Tigers and head to Baltimore for a three game road trip.
The red hot New York Yankees (28-10) hold a 5.0 game lead over the Rays, 8.0 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays (20-18), 12.0 game lead over the Boston Red Sox (16-22), and 13.5 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles (15-24). Next weekend the Rays will host the Yankees for a four game series in the first matchup this season.
The Orioles stopped their six game losing streak with a walk off against the Yankees yesterday afternoon.
Camden Yards will have a much different look when the Rays take the field this weekend. The left field wall has been pushed back and has been one of the most difficult parks to homer to left field.
Friday 7:05 PM: Jalen Beeks vs Tyler Wells
Saturday 7:05 PM: Jeffrey Springs vs. Kyle Bradish
Sunday 1:35 PM: Corey Kluber vs. Spenser Watkins
Tyler Wells has a 4.18 ERA / 4.14 FIP / 4.35 xFIP over 28.0 innings. In his first start of the season the Rays scored four runs over 1.2 innings. Well has a lackluster 16.2% strikeout rate but he has a very good 3.4% walk rate. Wells throws a four pitch mix that includes a 93.6 mph four-seam fastball, 86.8 mph changeup, 86.3 mph slider, and 79.0 mph curveball. He will limit his use of his changeup against right handed batters and slider against left handed batters.
Kyle Bradish has a 5.06 ERA / 4.46 FIP / 3.44 xFIP in his first four starts of his career. He’s posted a strong 25.3% strikeout rate and a 6.9% walk rate. Bradish works with two primary pitches that make up over 80% of his pitch usage. A 94.6 mph four-seam fastball and 85.7 mph slider are what he leans on. He’ll mix in an 81.3 mph curveball early in the count that isn’t a swing and miss pitch. Against left handed batters he will throw a 89.6 mph changeup.
Spenser Watkins has posted a 5.10 ERA / 6.13 FIP / 5.76 xFIP. This is the type of pitching line we’ve become accustomed to from Oriole pitchers of the recent past. He does not get many strikeouts with a 10.2% strikeout rate, but the most concerning thing is he walked more batters than he struck out with a 10.9% walk rate. Watkins throws a 92.1 mph four-seam fastball, 87.5 mph cutter, 79.2 mph slider, 77.7 mph curveball, and 86.4 mph changeup. Left handed batters can eliminate the slider and right handed batters can eliminate the changeup.
The Baltimore offense is still weak.
The Orioles have put up a .228 / .298 / .349 line and 91 wRC + this year. Their 24.4% strikeout rate is high and when it does not come with power (.121 ISO) that makes it very difficult to score runs. Their 3.36 runs per game is fourth lowest in the majors.
Despite the lack of overall offense the Orioles have some good hitters. Austin Hays (136 wRC +), Anthony Santander (132 wRC +), Trey Mancini (119 wRC +), and Cedric Mullins III (112 wRC +) have been their most productive players and get everyday playing time.
The problem comes from the bottom of the roster. Ryan Mountcastle (102 wRC +) and Jorge Mateo (85 wRC +) have been fine. Former Rays catchers have not been good, with Robinson Chirinos (52 wRC +) and Anthony Bemboom (28 wRC +) getting the bulk of the playing time.
The biggest problem is the lack of on base skills. Outside of Hays and Santander their batters aren’t taking their walks.