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Know Your Enemy: Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays

So nice, they shortened their name


First thing’s first: time to check-in with South Side Sox Mascot Correspondent Addy on what she thinks of Tampa Bay’s mascot, Raymond:

Thank you, Addy. Now to our regularly scheduled programming.

2020 Tampa Bay Rays: 40-20 (first in AL East, World Series losers)

Tampa Bay was on fire in 2020. They ripped through the AL East, ending the season seven games up on the Yankees. They flew through the Wild Card, ending the Blue Jays season in two games, went 3-2 against the Yankees, and put up a fight against the Astros through seven games because literally no one but people in Houston want them to succeed. An incredibly boneheaded move of pulling Blake Snell in the World Series led to their downfall, but they were thisclose to forcing a Game 7.

The Rays had long struggled to put together a winning team, struggled to make the playoffs at all, and couldn’t manage to advance past the division series. They had the second-lowest payroll in 2020 (the Orioles had the lowest, which anyone could have puzzled out). One of the things they were lauded for was being able to do the most with less, which some people were especially critical of (because pay your talent) in 2020, but more so after they let Blake Snell go. There were frequent comparisons to the 2008 team, the only other team who has managed to win a pennant for the franchise.

Out of some amazing plays in 2020, this one remains my personal favorite:

Out of the 15 AL teams, Tampa was second in doubles, first in triples, seventh in home runs, last in strikeouts, and fourth in OBP. Striking out less creates a good OBP? Tell me more ...

2021 Manager: Kevin Cash

Kevin Cash made everyone who was rooting for the Rays scream “What are you doing?!?!” at their TVs during Game 6 when he pulled Blake Snell in a move quite a few see as having cost his team the chance at a Game 7, because Snell is a former Cy Young winner and was holding a 1-0 lead. Snell had only allowed two hits, while also striking out nine batters. I don’t think this is a Bill Buckner-level brain fart but it definitely wasn’t a great choice, especially considering the level of backlash Cash got from fans, MLB players, and coaches alike.

Cash has been leading the Rays since 2015 (prior to that, he was Cleveland’s bullpen coach) in the post-Joe Maddon era. The 2015 season was especially notable for Cash, as he was not only the youngest manager but also was successful on a lower percentage of replay challenges than any other MLB manager with 10 or more (31.5%). He was suspended for a game in September 2020 when after Aroldis Chapman threw a pitch that narrowly missed Mike Brousseau’s head, as Cash responded to the Yankees with “I got a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 mph. Period.” We all hate Chapman, Cash, but not the best choice of words there.

2021 so far ...

The Rays are continuing their 2020 hot streak. Out of the 15 AL teams, they’re second in runs, eight in home runs, third in stolen bases, first in walks, and last in strikeouts. Pitching is on fire, too: second in ERA, sixth in home runs allowed, and fourth in walks.

The Rays are 7-3 in their last 10, 15-5 in their last 20, and 23-10 on the road. For those of you who care about lefty/righty, they’re 25-15 vs RHP and 17-9 vs LHP. They’re running through the AL, with their record against the East at 19-10, Central at 4-2, and West at 11-10. So far in 2021 they’ve had a whopping 520 hits, 264 walks, and 78 homers in 2,560 plate appearances, with 313 RBIs. As a team, they’re slashing .231/.319/.392. In the last seven days they’ve hit five home runs, had 28 walks, and 43 hits in 198 plate appearances with 26 RBIs. The slash of the last seven days is .257/.369/.383.

Yikes dot gif

Pitching Matchups

Tonight is going to be a great matchup, with Tyler Glasnow vs. Lance Lynn. Glasnow most recently allowed one run in seven innings against the Nationals and struck out 11, walking one, on 114 pitches. He’s gone at least seven innings his last three outings. He’s at a 5-2 record and 2.57 ERA with 117 strikeouts. Glasnow relies on four pitches: 4-seam fastball (51.5%), slider (31.9%), curveball (13.9%), and changeup (2.6%). He’s faced the White Sox once, in 2019, and got the win. Lynn is 7-1 with a nice 1.23 ERA and 72 strikeouts. In his past seven starts, he’s 5-0 with a 0.88 ERA. His changeup has been off the mark lately, but everything else is pretty on point. Lynn is 1-1 in his career against Tampa Bay, going 34 13 innings and posting a 2.36 ERA.

Tuesday is Shane McClanahan vs. Dallas Keuchel. McClanahan is 2-1 with a 4.54 ERA and 42 strikeouts. He’s struggled through back-to-back short outings, allowing seven runs on 10 hits and five walks in 6 13 innings in the last two starts. McClanahan never has faced the White Sox in his career. He was the No. 4 prospect for Tampa Bay coming into the season and has four pitches: slider (41.9%), 4-seam fastball (40.3%), changeup (9.4%), and curveball (6.3%). Only the fastball and curveball appear to have been hitting their mark lately. Keuchel, meanwhile, is 5-1 with a 4.14 ERA and 41 strikeouts. He’s coming off a win Thursday against Toronto where he struck out eight across six innings. Keuchel’s struggled against the Rays, going 1-5 with a 4.78 ERA in his career eight starts.

Wednesday is TBD vs. Lucas Giolito. Giolito is 5-5 this season with a 3.81 ERA and 96 strikeouts. He’s 1-0 against Tampa, lasting 20 23 innings and posting a 1.31 ERA. He’s allowed 12 hits during those starts, walking five, and striking out 25.

Why do we hate them?