Photo: Keith Allison
Tampa Bay Rays (40-38) @ Pittsburgh Pirates(35-41)
Time: Tuesday – 7:05
The Pirates went 5-5 during their stretch of games against the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals. They are now 5.0 games behind the Brewers, and have a 4.7% chance to make the playoffs according to Fangraphs. Antonio Bastardo’s rehab time is up, and it appears as though he is on his way back up with Jacob Stallings being demoted.
Alex Cobb will get to pitch in game one of the series. Cobb only logged 22 innings last year for the Rays after underdoing Tommy John surgery in 2015. Since his return, his K% has fallen to 16.5 after being at 21.9 in 2014. This is probably due to him throwing his most prized pitch, his changeup, less often. He has gone to his knuckle curve more often, and his changeup less. Here is a good write up on what has happened with Cobb this year.
Trevor Williams has not had an easy time striking guys out this year, but he has limited hard contact. Over his last two starts he has had swing and miss stuff. The strikeouts didn’t show up against Chicago, but he managed to get an 11.8 swinging strike percentage. And then in his last start against Milwaukee, he hit a season hit 16.7 swinging strike rate. If he can manage to keep getting swinging strikes, Williams may become a solid #5 starter after all.
Vegas thinks this game could go either way. The Rays and Pirates have the same odds, and the total currently sits at 9 runs.
Time: Wednesday – 7:05
Between 2015 and 2016, Blake Snell dominated AAA with a 2.68 ERA that came with a 33.3 K%. That also came with a not so good 9.3 BB%. He was promoted to the bigs in 2016, despite command issues, and to date has a 3.92 ERA with a 22.4 K% and a 12.9 B%. There are certainly some similarities to Glasnow here. Both dominated AAA with little command and manged to get away with it. Snell has done better than Glasnow. Snell’s career 3.92 ERA is not Glasnow’s 6.49 ERA. But Snell is also a year older. When you watch Snell pitch, whether he does good or bad, you should be reminded that all hope is not lost with Glasnow as others have made it out of AAA alive with little command.
Nova continues to be a mystery for me. On the year, he has a low 3.06 ERA. But since May his ERA is 3.90. Both numbers are good enough to make you one of Pittsburghs top starters, but the 3.90 is obviously less enjoyable. He has walked 4 batters over his last 2 games and has hit a batter. It’s hard to complain about only 4 walks, but its certainly not something you see from Nova often. Over his career, Longoria has crushed Nova hitting .289 with 3 HR in 38 AB. Nova certainly appears to be a different pitcher, so hopefully he can limit the damage.
Time: Thursday – 7:05
The series finale will be Archer vs Taillon. Archer is striking out nearly 30% of the batters he has faced this year and should be a real test for the Pirates. The Pirates current roster has the 2nd lowest K% in baseball, so this one should be an interesting matchup.
Taillon will get to face Archer in the toughest matchup of the series. However, after what Taillon has dealt with throughout his career, this one should be nothing for him. Look for him to give the Pirates exactly what they need on Thursday.
The Pirates are slight favorites to win this series.
Rays: Logan Morrison – Last 14 days .333/.440/.786, 5 HR, 16.0 K%, 16.0 BB%
Pirates – Andrew McCutchen – Last 14 days .356/.453/.711, 5 HR, 9.4 K%, 15.1 BB%
Rays: Alex Colome – Last 2 appearances 2.0 IP, 5 ER, 21.4 K%, 14.3 BB%
Pirates: Gregory Polanco – Last 14 days .204/.235/.347, 2 HR, 15.7 K%, 3.9 BB%
Rays: Rickie Weeks Jr. (10 Day, Shoulder impingement), Brad Miller (10 Day, Strained groin), Adeiny Hechavarria (10 Day, Strained oblique), Kevin Kiermaier (10 Day, Fractured hip), Colby Rasmus (10 Day, Hip tendinitis), Matt Duffy (60 Day, Heel surgery), Matt Andriese (10 Day, Stress reaction in hip), Nathan Eovaldi (60 Day, TJ/flexor tendon surgery), Brad Boxberger (10 Day, Flexor strain), Xavier Cedeño (60 Day, Forearm tightness), Kevin Gadea (60 Day, Elbow tendinitis), Diego Moreno (60 Day, Shoulder bursitis), Shawn Tolleson (60 Day, Tommy John surgery)
Pirates: Francisco Cervelli (7 Day, Post Concussion Syndrome)