The Tampa Bay Rays are still on the fringes of playoff contention, sitting 6.0 games back of the second Wild Card spot. However they haven’t been getting the job done in August, going 8-8. Unfortunately things aren’t going to get any easier for the Rays as the Detroit Tigers and their daunting pitching rotation comes to Tropicana Field.
In game one, the Tigers will send Max Scherzer to the mound. The righty won the 2013 Cy Young award after putting up a 2.90 ERA, 10.1 K/9, and a 2.4 BB/9 over 214.1 innings of work. Once again he is contending for the Cy Young award, as he has posted a 2.98 ERA, 10.4 K/9, and a 2.4 BB/9 through 169.0 innings of work. Luckily for the Rays, they are sending Chris Archer to the mound, and his numbers aren’t actually too far behind Scherzer’s. He has posted a 3.24 ERA thus far to go along with an 8.4 K/9 and a 3.4 BB/9. Game one is likely to be a pitcher’s duel, so it will be up to the Rays’ offense to get the job done.
In game two the Rays get their easiest pitching matchup of the series against Rick Porcello. Easy is a relative term in this case, as Porcello has been outstanding this year. Through 156.1 innings, Porcello has a 3.28 ERA, 5.5 K/9, and a 1.8 BB/9. Porcello won’t blow away hitters like Scherzer does, however he makes up for it with exceptional command. Jake Odorizzi will oppose Porcello in this game. He has had an up and down season, posting a 3.82 ERA thus far, but he has been hot as of late. Since the start of July, Odorizzi has put up a 3.26 ERA. Once again, it seems like it will be up to the offenses to decided the winner of this one.
Just a couple of weeks after trading him, the Rays will have to go up against their former ace, David Price, in game three. With Price throwing, the Rays will get to see the past two Cy Young winners in the same series. He is once again putting up an ace caliber season, posting a 3.12 ERA overall and a 3.18 ERA through his first three starts as a Tiger. Once again, however, the Rays will throw a pitcher that gives them a chance to win in Alex Cobb. In 19 starts for the Rays this year, Cobb has a 3.19 ERA, 8.6 K/9, and a 2.6 BB/9. Like the previous two games, this one will be decided by which offense can bear down and squeak out a couple runs.
The Rays offense has been fine lately, scoring 4.4 runs per game in August. But, they have been inconsistent nonetheless, so if there is a time to find consistency it is now. It is crunch time for the Rays, and they need to face up to this big challenge.