As the Tampa Bay Rays ready themselves to face off against Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros, it’s going to be all hands on deck for the Rays in this must-win match, including a few unlikely names.
The Tampa Bay Rays know they’re going to need every able-bodied player on their 25-man roster ready to go tonight as they hope to tie up the ALDS against the Houston Astros in game four. As a result, some unexpected names might be used on the field tonight.
The Rays will be taking on Justin Verlander, the starter for ALDS game one, who was nearly unstoppable against the best the Rays had to offer. He’ll be pitching on short rest today, so the team will be hoping to take advantage of his potential weariness by using every weapon in their arsenal. This will include Yandy Diaz and Blake Snell.
Yandy Diaz left Monday afternoon’s game with apparent foot discomfort, but Rays manager Kevin Cash has said that Diaz will be available in a pinch-hitter role if need be, so the team can limit his on field play and hopefully keep him healthy if the team is able to advance to the ALCS.
As for pitchers, the Rays are starting the game with Diego Castillo as an Opener, and then have all of their relief pitchers available beyond that. They also have said that if the need arises, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow are available tonight. Only game three starter Charlie Morton is off the table.
What this means for the Rays is that Kevin Cash is willing to sacrifice his game five starter in Glasnow in order to ensure that a game five exists. It’s a bold strategy, because the Astros would be able to start Garrit Cole on Thursday in game five on normal rest. It’s unlikely a few innings of work in Tuesday’s game would be enough to derail the use of either Glasnow or Snell for Thursday, but as both are just returning from injury, use of them in game four would most likely be very restricted.
Ultimately, Kevin Cash will make the necessary moves throughout the game to give his team a fighting chance of continuing on in the postseason, which might mean seeing more typical closers come on as early as the second inning, and a multitude of pitching changes throughout the night.
The Astros could be kept on their toes in game four, and it might be precisely the thing the Rays need in order to win.