Tampa Bay Rays hitting and left-handed starters don’t mix in 2021
By Alex Murphy
With Los Angeles Angels starter Shohei Ohtani scratched from Monday’s start, the Tampa Bay Rays have to face left-handed starting pitcher Jose Quintana, the newest potential nightmare for this offense.
There has been a league-wide power shortage in MLB this season, as the league-wide average hovers around .230 and the implementation of new baseballs with higher seams have seemed to have made an impact thus far.
Major League Baseball hasn’t seen a production decline like this in decades, and the Rays have fallen victim, much like the rest of the league.
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Through 29 games, the Tampa Bay Rays are batting .223 as a team with a .672 OPS and 291 strikeouts, third-worst in baseball ahead of the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers.
Their team batting average and OPS is also among the bottom-third in MLB, but somehow, when looking at splits on Baseball Reference, this team has hit better against left-handed pitching at a .230 clip.
That number is quite deceiving as against left-handed starters, the Tampa Bay Rays have hit a measly .189 with a .251 BAbip, 50 points lower than this team’s average against right-handed starters.
Keep in mind that there are significantly less lefties in MLB than righties, so those numbers come with a small sample size.
However, with the Tampa Bay Rays having eight left-handed hitters at their disposal and five of them hitting under .220, the numbers foretell a big concern for a team that is already in a massive hitting slump.
Don’t get too down in the dumps as there are several positives going for the Tampa Bay Rays coming into tonight’s game with Quintana on the mound.
After falling to the Houston Astros in the first two games of their weekend set, the Tampa Bay Rays came back to win Sunday’s series finale in a comeback, 5-4 victory, so hopefully, there can be some momentum carried over to Anaheim.
Quintana has struggled this season, giving up 15 earned runs in 13.1 innings pitched through his first four starts, averaging less than four innings a start so far in 2021.
Kevin Kiermaier and Manny Margot have hit Quintana well in their careers as KK is 5-for-8 and Margot is 5-for-10 of the lefty.
In seven starts, Quintana has a 1-3 record against the Tampa Bay Rays. If this team wants a chance to win, they need to jump on the lefty early.
Quintana has a career 4.48 ERA in the first inning, having given up career-worst 137 runs, 261 hits and 31 home runs. Batters also hit .269 with a .763 OPS and 113 OPS+ off Quintana in the first, the worst of any inning in his career.
While the Tampa Bay Rays have slumped against left-handed starting pitching, the keys to success are in front of them, so stay tuned Monday night for a marquee matchup with Tyler Glasnow on the bump.