Friday, June 2, 2023

MLB Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (31-11) at New York Mets (20-22)

TAMPA BAY RAYS NOTES:

SALVAGED THE SPLIT — The Rays claimed Sunday afternoon’s series finale at Yankee Stadium by an 8-7 final…the contest was tied, 4-4, in the fifth inning before 3B Taylor Walls (3-for-4, 3B, HR, 4RBI, R) launched his first career grand slam for an 8-4 Tampa Bay lead…the Yankees plated three runs over the seventh and eighth innings, but RHP Jason \Adam (1.0IP) shut the door in the ninth for his fifth save.

2B Brandon Lowe (1-for-3, 2RBI, R, BB) recorded his first multi-RBI game since 5/3 vs. Pittsburgh (2RBI) and LF Randy Arozarena (0-for-4, RBI) drove in his 35th run with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly, the fourth-most RBI in the majors.

Rays starter RHP Zach Eflin (6.0IP, 7H, 4ER, BB, 9SO) overcame a four-run third inning to complete 6.0 frames, improving to 5-1 on the season.

Six of the seven matchups between the Rays and Yankees this season have been decided by one run…last season, seven of the 19 matchups were ne-run games.

A GRAND OL’ TIME—The Rays have hit four grand slams this season, tied with Los Angeles-NL and Texas for most in the majors…per Elias, Tampa Bay has hit grand slams in back-to-back games for the third time in club history (also: 6/25-27, 2000 & 8/7-8, 2021)…the Rays hit one grand slam all of last season (Manuel Margot on 5/7/22 at SEA)… Tampa Bay is the only team in the majors to hit grand slams in consecutive games this season (last: New York Yankees, 9/20-21, 2022).

Collectively, the Rays are slashing .444/.455/.861 (16-for-36) with the bases loaded…it marks MLB’s best average and OPS (1.316) with the bags full.

WON BY ONE — Eight of Tampa Bay’s last 11 games have been decided by one run or fewer, with the Rays going 4-4 in those games…this comes after only five of the club’s first 31 games were one-run contests…on the season, Tampa Bay’s 8-5 mark in one-run games is fourth-best in the AL and ninth-best in the majors.

Nine of the Rays 11 losses this season have come by three or fewer runs, including the five one-run defeats.

INTERLEAGUE RUNDOWN — The Rays 8-1 mark against NL clubs signals the best Interleague record in MLB (min. 2G), ahead of Detroit (9-2)…Tampa Bay is outscoring NL foes, 57-22 (+35), and has held the opposition to two or fewer runs in seven of its nine Interleague contests…on the heels of a seven-game losing streak (6/28-8/10, 2022), Tampa Bay has won 10 of its last 11 Interleague matchups dating back to 8/30/22.

Rays pitching has recorded a 2.14 ERA (80.0IP, 19ER) against the NL, the third-lowest Interleague ERA in the majors behind Baltimore (1.96) and San Diego (2.00)…this includes a 1.93 ERA (42.0IP, 9ER) by Tampa Bay starters.

Meanwhile, Rays hitters are slashing .288/.348/.549 with 21 homers against the NL…they pace the majors in Interleague AVG, SLG and OPS (.897).

IT STARTS AT THE TOP — Yandy Díaz has a 12-game hitting streak since 5/3, batting .333 (15-for-45) with four doubles, 3 HR and 8 RBI during the run…the streak matches the longest of his career (also: 6/26-7/8, 2022) and is the longest by a Tampa Bay hitter since Wander Franco (13G) from 9/14-27, 2022…it ties the third-longest active hitting streak in the majors, behind only COL Randall Grichuk (14G) and TEX Jonah Heim (13G).

He also has a 16-game on-base streak since 4/27, slashing .358/.485/.679 (19-fo-53) with nine extra-base hits, 9 RBI, 10 walks and only 11 strikeouts in that stretch…it marks the fifth-longest active on-base streak in the AL.

Díaz has reached base safely in 26 of his last 27 games overall, going .354/.461/.615 (34-for-96) at the plate during that span…he ranks among qualified major leaguers in OBP (1st), batting average (1st), OPS (1st, 1.076) and SLG (3rd) during that stretch (since 4/15).

On the season, he ranks third in the majors in OBP (.429), SLG (.593) and OPS (1.022) while his .321 batting average is fourth.

THE BAY BOMBERS — The Rays have hit a major league-best 81 home runs, the third-most long balls through a club’s first 42 games in MLB history (since 1901), trailing only the 2000 St. Louis Cardinals (88HR) and 1999 Seattle Mariners (84HR)…the 2000 Cardinals also hold the record for most homers through 43 games (89HR), followed by the 1999 Mariners (85HR) and 2019 Houston Astros (82HR).

Tampa Bay has out-homered opponents, 81-33 (+50)…its 31 homers allowed are tied for second-fewest in the majors, behind Seattle (26HR).

The Rays have an MLB-best 23 multi-homer games, ahead of Los Angeles-NL (21G)…his includes 13 games with 3+ homers, tied with Los Angeles-NL for the MLB lead.

Tampa Bay’s 24 go-ahead home runs lead the AL and trail only Angeles-NL (26) for most in the majors…58 of the Rays 81 total homers have been solo shots.

The Rays homered in each of their first 22 games, the longest streak to open a season in MLB history…marked the longest home run streak at any point in a single season since the 2019 Houston Astros (25G, 9/1-29, 2019)…Tampa Bay has gone deep in 37 of its 42 games overall in 2023.

EASY AS 1-2-3 — The first three spots in Tampa Bay’s batting order lead the majors in average (.306), OBP (.392), SLG (.552), OPS (.944), RBI (88), hard-hit pct. (40.4%), hits (153), runs scored (102) and homers (T1st, 31).

LEADING THE PACK — The Rays pace the majors in runs scored (260) while surrendering the fewest runs (140)…Tampa Bay’s +120 run differential is the seventh-best mark through the first 42 games of a season in MLB history (since 1901), including the best since the 1939 New York Yankees (+135).

ON THE MOUND — Tampa Bay’s 3.26 ERA is the second-best mark in the majors behind Seattle (3.24)…this includes the best starter ERA (3.03) and the sixth-best bullpen ERA (3.51)…Rays pitching ranks highly among major league staffs in opp. AVG (1st, .215), opp. SLG (2nd, .344), opp. OPS (2nd, .638), opp. OBP (3rd, .294) and WHIP (3rd, 1.16).

IN THE BOX — Rays hitters lead MLB in OPS (.856), OBP (.349), SLG (.508), batting average (.275), homers (81), extra-base hits (166), total bases (728), hard-hit pct. (45.1%), and at-bats per home run (17.70).

IN THE BIG APPLE — The Rays and Mets meet for the first time since 2021 in this week’s three-game series at Citi Field…Tampa Bay has won four straight, seven of eight, and nine of its last 11 meetings with New York-NL…the two clubs last met from 5/14-16, 2021 when the Rays recorded a three-game sweep at Tropicana Field.

The Rays are 8-7 all-time at Citi Field and have won each of their last three series in this venue dating back to 2009, going 6-3 in that span.

Tampa Bay holds a 16-14 edge in the all-time series against New York-NL, producing a narrow +5 (138-133) run differential.

FIRST THINGS FIRST — LHP Jalen Beeks will serve as tonight’s opener… in three starts this season, he has pitched to a 1.29 ERA (7.0IP, 1ER) with five strikeouts and two walks…in his last start on 5/10 at Baltimore, he threw 2.0 scoreless innings.

In 14 career starts, Beeks is 0-4 with a 6.50 ERA (36.0IP, 26ER) and 35 strikeouts against 16 walks…in 102 career relief appearances, he is 15-6 and has pitched to a 3.82 ERA (219.1IP, 93ER) with four saves.

UNFAMILIAR FOE — Beeks will be making his first career appearance against the Mets.

In seven career relief appearances against NL East opponents, Beeks is 2-0 with a 3.06 ERA (17.2IP, 6ER) and one save, holding opponents to a .279 batting average (19-for-68) with 19 SO.

NEW YORK METS NOTES:

METSCELLANEOUS: The Mets fell to the Nationals in the final game of their four game series in Washington D.C….New York finished a seven-game road trip (3-4) to Cincinnati (1-2) and Washington D.C. (2-2)… Tonight, the Mets begin a six-game homestand against Tampa Bay (three games) and Cleveland (three games).

JUST IN TIME: Justin Verlander is set to make his Mets home debut tonight…He has made two previous starts at Citi Field, once in 2010 and again in 2022…In his last start on June 29, 2022, he tossed 8.0 scoreless innings, allowing two hits, a walk and striking out six in a 2-0 Astros victory.

Rank Player Strikeouts

  1. Greg Maddux 3,371
  2. Phil Niekro 3,342
  3. Max Scherzer 3,219
  4. Justin Verlander 3,210
  5. Fergie Jenkins 3192
    Rank Player Strikeouts
  6. Pedro Martinez 3,154
  7. Bob Gibson 3,117
  8. Curt Schilling 3,116
  9. CC Sabathia 3,093
  10. John Smoltz 3,084
    MOST STRIKEOUTS, ALL-TIME (NO. 10-19)

IN THE CITI: The Mets are 7-8 at Citi Field this year…The team’s 15 home games are the fewest in the major leagues…The team won 54 games at home last year…That was their highest total at Citi Field in franchise history…The last time the team won more than 50 games in New York was in 2000 when they went 55-26…Overall, the Mets went 54-27 at Citi Field…The team’s .667 winning percentage was the fourth-highest in team history…Only the 1988 (56-24, .700), 2000 and 1986 teams (both 55-26, .679) had a better home winning percentage.

THEY’RE OUT OF MY LEAGUE: The new schedule format has New York playing a total of 43 Interleague games in 2023, more than double their previous high for a single season (20)…The Mets are 3-3 against the American League this year…Overall, New York owns a 238-230 record in Interleague play…The team’s .509 winning percentage is the second-best among National League clubs.

INTERLEAGUE PETE: Pete Alonso has hit 31 home runs in Interleague Play since the 2019 season…His 31 home runs against the American League is a franchise record, and the most among any player since 2019…Mike Piazza was the previous record holder with 28 Interleague home runs.

POWER OUTAGE: The Mets have not hit a home run since the second inning on May 10 in Cincinnati, when Pete Alonso hit a solo shot…The team has gone five games and a total of 52 innings without a home run…It’s the team’s longest homerless streak since they went six games without a blast from July 19-24, 2015…Overall, the Mets ranks 22nd in the majors and 10th in the NL with 41 homers.

FIRST IS THE WORST: The Mets have posted a 7.93 ERA (37 ER/42.0 IP) in the first inning this season, the highest mark in the majors…Outside the first frame, the Mets are pitching to a 4.30 ERA (151 ER/316.0 IP)…The Mets have been outscored 37-9 in the first inning this year…The Mets are 7-19 when their opponent scores first…On the other hand, the Mets are 13-2 when scoring first this season…Their .867 winning percentage when scoring first ranks second in the majors.

DOCTOR ROBERT-SON: David Robertson has pitched 15 games and allowed one run in 15.1 innings of work, good for a 0.53 ERA…He has allowed eight hits and five walks while striking out 24…He is holding lefthanded hitters to a .133 (4-30) average this season…He has converted all eight save opportunities he’s had this season…Overall, he has recorded 164 saves in his career…That is the seventh-most among active players.

AND THEY’RE OFF: Starling Marte is tied for 12th in the majors and tied for sixth in the NL with 11 steals…He ranks third among active players with 325 career steals…Only Elvis Andrus (340) and Billy Hamilton (326) have more… The Mets are fourth in the National League with a 82.4% success rate in steals this season…The Mets are eighth the NL with 28 steals this season.

EMPIRE STATE OF MIND: Tomorrow, Mark Canha will light up the Empire State Building with his family at 11:00 a.m…The outfielder will turn on the lights in recognition of Food Allergy Awareness Week.

BRIGHAM OUT, BRIGHAM OUT: Jeff Brigham has not allowed a run in his last six appearances….He has allowed two hits, a walk and struck out six
in those 6.0 innings…Overall, Brigham has not allowed a run in 10 of his 12 appearances this season, posting a 2.77 ERA (4 ER/13.0 IP)…He has struck out 16 and allowed six hits and four walks in 13.0 innings this year.

WHAT A RELIEF: The Mets bullpen has held opponents to a .221 (128- 579) batting average this season…That is the eighth-lowest mark in the majors and the second-lowest in the National League…They have allowed only 43 extra-base hits this year, which is the second-lowest in the National League.

STARTING PITCHING: Mets starting pitchers have tossed 202.2 innings this year, the fourth-fewest innings in the majors…They have surrendered 37 homers, the fifth-most in the majors…New York starters have issued 101 walks, the second-most in the majors…They are 14-17 with a 5.33 ERA (120 earned runs/202.2 innings)…Their 5.33 ERA is the fifth-highest in the majors and the third-highest in the National League

JUSTIN VERLANDER RHP #35
2023 STATS: 1-1, 2.25 E R A

VERLANDER PITCH ARSENL
Pitch Type Usage Rate vs. LHB vs. RHB Avg. Velocity
Four-Seam Fastball 50% 51% 50% 94.7 mph
Slider 35% 32% 37% 88.5 mph
Curveball 14% 14% 13% 79.1 mph
Changeup 1% 1% 0% 84.1 mph

LAST TIME OUT: Earned his first career win as a Met on May 10 against the Reds at Great American Ballpark…Threw 7.0 innings and allowed one run on two hits, two walks and seven strikeouts…Retired 18 of the last 19 batters faced…Was his 33rd career game with at least 7.0 innings and two or fewer hits allowed, tied with Roger Clemens for the third-most such games in major league history.

30 FOR 3O: With a win in his last start against the Reds, Verlander became the 21st pitcher in major league history to have at least one win against all 30 current major league teams… He joined Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke and teammate Max Scherzer as the only active pitchers to have at least one win against all 30 current major league teams…Courtesy of Elias.

WELCOME TO THE CITI: Tonight, Verlander will make his Mets Citi Field debut…In two starts as a visiting pitcher at Citi Field, Verlander went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA (5 ER/10.0 IP)… In his Citi Field debut, June 22, 2010, Verlander allowed five runs over 2.2 innings with the Tigers in a 14-6 Mets victory…12 seasons later, Verlander tossed 8.0 scoreless innings in a 2-0 Astros victory on June 29, 2022.

INCREDIBLE IN INTERLEAGUE PLAY: In 56 career interleague starts, Verlander is 38-9 with a 2.60 ERA (106 ER/367.1 IP)…In interleague play history, Verlander has the most wins, the third-best ERA among qualifiers and the third-most strikeouts at 412 trailing only Max Scherzer (447) and Zack Greinke (414)…41 of Verlander’s 56 career interleague starts have been quality starts, one behind Greinke for the most in interleague play history.

3K AND COUNTING: Entering the 2023 season, Verlander was 12th on the all-time strikeout list with 3,198 strikeouts, five ahead of teammate Max Scherzer…Scherzer has since passed Verlander, but the pair remain close, with just nine separating the two…Entering last season, Verlander ranked 19th on the all-time with 3,013 career strikeouts, seven behind Scherzer…During the 2022 season, Verlander passed all-time greats John Smoltz, C.C Sabathia, Curt Schilling, Bob Gibson, Pedro Martinez and Fergie Jenkins…See below for a chart of the No. 10-19 strikeout pitchers of all-time:

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