Jacob Faria is starting the Tampa Bay Rays first game after the All Star break on Friday. The Tampa Bay Rays are certainly hoping he can build off of his first half.
Jacob Faria had to be one of the biggest surprises for the Tampa Bay Rays in the first half. Initially brought up to the majors to make a spot start during Matt Andriese‘s absence, Faria performed quite admirably. When Andriese landed on the disabled list once more, Faria again received the call, and continued to outperform expectations.
In his six starts prior to the All Star break, Faria was a revelation. He produced a 4-0 record with a 2.11 ERA and a 0.965 WHiP. The concerns about his command did not appear during that time, as he issued just nine walks while striking out 37 batters in 38.1 innings. Faria had a complete game in each of those first six starts, the first pitcher to start his career with such a streak since Masahiro Tanaka in 2014.
Given that production, it is not a surprise that Faria would be moved up in the Rays rotation. In fact, he will be the first starter to pitch coming back from the All Star break, getting the ball on Friday against the Los Angeles Angels. After Faria, the Rays will be slotting Alex Cobb and Chris Archer to close out the series.
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Facing off against an Angels team that will be getting Mike Trout back, it is important that they get out to a hot start. The Rays find themselves as the second Wild Card team, although they are facing quite a bit of competition for that spot. Taking two of three from the Angels, one of those teams within striking distance, is almost mandatory.
That makes Faria’s outing all the more important as well. Tampa Bay took three of four from the Red Sox to serve notice that they were a legitimate contender, a possible force to be reckoned with in the American League East. But that series began a week ago. The Rays need to build their own momentum heading into the unofficial second half.
As the Tampa Bay Rays look to build on that first half, they need Jacob Faria to do the same. He will have his first test on Friday, when he is the first pitcher the Rays send out following the break.