Wednesday, July 17, 2024
5-Hour Energy

MLB Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (81-52) at Miami Marlins (66-66)

TAMPA BAY RAYS NOTES:

RAY REPORT — Tampa Bay continues a five-game, six-day road trip through Miami and Cleveland tonight at loanDepot Park…the Rays are 19-9 in their last 28 games, including wins in nine of 11 and 12 of their last 16, following an MLB-worst 5-15 (.250) stretch from 7/1-26…they currently occupy the first AL Wild Card spot, leading Houston, Texas and Seattle by 5.5 games, as Seattle and Texas remain tied atop the AL West…Tampa Bay is 2.5 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL last after spending 111 consecutive days atop the division from 3/30-7/19. The Rays are 8-1-1 in their last 10 series on the heels of a 2-7-1 performance in series play from 6/12-7/23…they have posted a 20-10 (.667) record overall since 7/24, tied with the Orioles (22-11, .667) for the second-best winning pct. in the AL behind the Mariners (25-8, .758). With a win tonight, it would mark the first time since 3/31-4/18, 2019 that the Rays have won six consecutive series (Elias)…a victory would also move Tampa Bay to a season-best 30 games above .500. Last night, the Rays improved to 30-13 (.698) in series openers, tied with Atlanta and Los Angeles-NL (both 30-13) for the best mark in the majors…they also recorded their 16th game with 10+ runs, tied with Los Angeles-NL for the fourth-most such games in MLB, behind Texas (23G), Chicago-NL (20G) and Atlanta (18G). All nine starters recorded a hit in yesterday’s win, the fifth time the Rays have accomplished the feat this season…four of the five performances have come in the last 13 games. Tampa Bay has recorded 10+ hits in nine of its last 15 contests since 8/12 (167H overall), producing 11.33 hits per game…prior to this season, the last time the Rays collected 167+ hits over any 15-game period was 8/24-9/8, 2007 (170H). Following tomorrow’s off day, Tampa Bay will open the month of September with 17 games in 17 consecutive days before its first of three off days during the month… the Rays have an MLB-leading seven off days in August.

PAR(EDES) FOR THE COURSE — Isaac Paredes recorded his team-leading 27th home run in last night’s win, extending his hitting streak to eight games…during the run, he is batting .371 (13-for-35) with two doubles, 4 HR and 12 RBI…it marks the second-longest hitting streak of his career behind a 10-game run from 9/12-24, 2020 while with Detroit. His seven games with 4+ RBI are tied with NYM Pete Alonso for the MLB lead…he joins Carlos Peña (2009) and Evan Longoria (2011) as the only players in franchise history to have seven such games in a single season.

COMING FOR THE CROWN — Yandy Díaz’s AL-leading .327 batting average is the second-highest mark by a qualified hitter through the Rays first 133 games in franchise history, trailing only Jason Bartlett (.337) in 2009…Díaz is attempting to become the first player in Rays history to win an AL batting title…his .403 on-base pct. is also just seven points shy of AL leader LAA Shohei Ohtani (.410) and is the second-best mark through 133 team games in Tampa Bay history, behind Fred McGriff (.408) in 1999. Díaz’s 45 multi-hit games are tied with BOS Masataka Yoshida for second most in the AL behind SEA Julio Rodríguez (47G)…marks his most multi-hit games in any season of his career, ahead of his 2022 campaign (43G). He has hit safely in 15 of his last 18 games since 8/6, batting .400 (32-for-80) with eight extra-base hits and 13 RBI…it marks the second-best average in the AL during that timeframe, trailing Rodríguez (.452).

RANDY GETS ROLLING — Randy Arozarena has hit safely in 17 of his last 20 games dating back to 8/6, batting .303 (23-for-76) with four doubles, 3 HR, 10 RBI and 13 walks against 18 strikeouts…he has produced a .400 on-base pct. in 24 games this month after posting a .223 on-base pct. across 23 games in July. Arozarena is two steals shy of becoming the first player in Rays history to post three consecutive 20+ HR, 20+ SB seasons…he is already one of three players in club history with at least one 20-20 season, joining B.J. Upton (’07, ’11, ’12) and Tommy Pham (’19)…he would become the only player MLB history to post a 20-20 season as a rookie and in each of the next two seasons; currently, Arozarena and LAA Mike Trout (2012-13) are the only players to accomplish the feat as a rookie and again in the
following season (Elias). He has drawn 11 walks in his last 13 games since 8/14, tied with SEA Eugenio Suárez for the AL lead during that timeframe.

CLUTCH TIME — Tampa Bay is batting an MLB-best .346 with runners in scoring position in August, ahead of Atlanta (.336)…the Rays hit .197 with RISP in July, the third-lowest mark in the majors, ahead of only San Francisco (.180) and New York-AL (.180). Tampa Bay’s .288 batting average with RISP on the year leads MLB, ahead of Baltimore, Boston and Texas (.280 each)…the .288 RISP average would signal a single-season franchise record, ahead of the 2005 Devil Rays (.285).

ALL GAS, NO BRAKES — Following last night’s 11-2 victory, Tampa Bay has recorded nine wins by 9+ runs, tied with Chicago-NL for the second-most such wins in the majors behind Texas (13G)…the nine wins are a single-season team record, surpassing the 2009 club, who had eight such victories…the 2022 Rays logged only three wins by 9+ runs.

FLASHING LEATHER — The Rays have not committed an error in their last seven games, their longest streak since stringing together eight consecutive error-free contests from 6/24-7/2…during August, Tampa Bay is 4-5 when committing at least one error compared to 12-3 when going errorless, including wins in nine of their last 10 such games…on the season, the Rays .988 fielding pct. ranks third in the AL/fifth in the majors.

CITRUS SERIES SHOWDOWN — Tampa Bay and Miami conclude a two-game set tonight at loanDepot Park…the clubs split a two-game series at Tropicana Field from 7/25-26… the Rays have taken 21 of their last 24 games from the Marlins dating back to 7/22/18, including a 10-1 mark at Miami since the beginning of the 2019 campaign.

TONIGHT’S STARTER: RHP ZACH EFLIN (13-8, 3.55)
TONIGHT’S START — The right-hander makes his 26th start of the season, including his 11th on the road, tonight in Miami…ranks among AL leaders in wins (T1st, 13), WHIP (3rd, 1.04) and walk rate (3rd, 3.5%)…enters the outing one punchout shy of his 700th career strikeout and one victory away from his 50th career win.

LAST TIME OUT — Turned in his career-high 15th quality start of the season, but took the loss in the Rays 6-2 home setback against the Yankees on 8/25 (L, 6.0IP, 7H, 2ER, BB, 11SO)…his lone blemishes came on a DJ LeMahieu homer in the fifth inning and a two-out RBI-single by Everson Pereira in the sixth…fanned 11 batters in the defeat, marking his fourth career 10+ strikeout game and his second most punchouts in any outing (most: 12SO, 5/22/22 vs. LAD)…tossed a season-high 103 pitches, his most since 6/3/22 vs. Los Angeles-AL (104).

FISH ARE NOT FRIENDS — In 17 career games (16GS) against Miami, Eflin is 5-8 with a 5.24 ERA (92.2IP, 54ER)…took the loss against the Marlins on 7/26 at Tropicana Field (4.0IP, 7H, 5ER, BB, 3SO)…has a six-game losing streak against Miami since the beginning of 2020, allowing a .306/.342/.528 (44- for-144) line to Marlins hitters over eight appearances (7GS) in that span… his clubs are 0-7 in his last seven starts against Miami (PHI: 0-6; TB: 0-1)… he has made more starts (16) and thrown more innings (92.2) against the Marlins than any other opponent in his career. Eflin has gone 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA (16.0IP, 9ER) three starts against the
NL East this season, his former division during his seven-year stint with Philadelphia (2016-22)…he has a 7.75 ERA (38.1IP, 33ER) in his last eight starts against the division dating back to 4/15/22 at Miami. Eflin is 3-3 with a 3.21 ERA (56.0IP, 20ER) over nine Interleague starts in 2023, seven of which were quality…ranks among MLB leaders in Interleague play (min. 40.0IP) in WHIP (2nd, 0.82), SO/BB ratio (2nd, 15.50), opp. OPS (6th, .561) and opp. AVG (7th, .206).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN — Eflin posted a 5.36 ERA (43.2IP, 26ER) in his first eight road starts from 4/28-7/16, the fifth-highest mark in the AL during that span (min. 40.0IP)…however, he has pitched to a 2.25 ERA (12.0IP, 3ER) in his last two road starts, allowing a .234 (11-for-47) opponent batting average…he has recorded back-to-back quality starts as a visitor for the second time this season (also 6/17-28)…he has not strung together a streak of three consecutive quality starts on the road since a career-long four-start streak from 6/24-7/22, 2016 during his rookie season.

DIVING DEEPER — Eflin has held opponents to an average exit velocity of 87.1 mph, tied with LAA Tyler Anderson for the second-lowest mark in the AL behind LAA Shohei Ohtani (86.4) and tied for the sixth-lowest mark in the majors…this includes an average of 85.6 mph over his last six starts dating back to 7/26, tied with CWS Dylan Cease for the lowest mark in the AL during that stretch (min. 75BF)…opponents have swung at 33.9 pct. of Eflin’s pitches outside of the strike zone, tied with MIN Bailey Ober for the second-best chase rate in the AL behind MIN Joe Ryan (34.1%).

QUALITY CONTROL — Eflin’s 7.35 SO/BB ratio ranks second in the majors behind SEA George Kirby (10.14)…in Rays history, the only qualified pitcher with a higher mark over a full season was David Price in 2012 (8.22)…Eflin has issued one or zero walks in each of his last 11 starts, the longest such streak of his career and the longest active run among traditional major league starters, ahead of SF Logan Webb (9GS). Eflin has thrown 68.8 pct. of his pitches for strikes, the third-highest
mark in the majors behind Kirby (70.6%) and MIA Sandy Alcantara (68.9%)…marks the highest strike percentage of his career, ahead of his 2021 season (68.0%). He has walked two or fewer batters in each of his last 28 starts since 6/14/22, also the longest active streak in MLB, ahead of KC Zack Greinke (26GS)…Eflin has issued two or fewer walks in 61 of his last 62 starts dating back to 8/29/2020. Since the beginning of 2021, his 3.8 pct. walk rate is the lowest in the majors (min. 1,250BF), outpacing Greinke (4.5%).

HOMER (UN)HAPPY — Eflin, whose 1.00 HR/9.0 IP ranks 10th among AL qualifiers, has allowed at least one home run in a season-high four straight starts, permitting 2.05 HR/9.0 IP in that span.…it marks his longest such streak since 9/23/20-4/16/21 (also 4GS)…he has not had a longer streak since a career-high-tying six-start run from 7/3-8/10, 2018…he allowed one homer in seven starts (39.0IP) from 6/28-8/1 (0.23 HR/9.0 IP).

MIAMI MARLINS NOTES:

MARLINS MINUTE
The Marlins today play the final of two games against the Rays to close out the 2023 Citrus Series. Concludes a five-game homestand that began with three games against the Nationals in which Miami took 1 of 3. Following this series, will travel to the nation’s capital for four more games against Washington from Thursday-Sunday.

FISH BYTES

  • The Marlins offense has struck out a combined 1,038 times this year, the 4th-lowest total in MLB, behind Cleveland (937), Washington (942), and Arizona (1,025). The last time the Marlins ranked in the top 10 in the Majors in strikeouts was 2017 (10th).
  • Miami ranks 3rd in the NL with a .258 batting average (6th in the Majors), behind Philadelphia (.260), and Atlanta (.276) and ranks 4th in the NL with 1,158 hits.
  • The Marlins pitching staff leads the NL with 1,232 strikeouts (4th most in Majors behind Minnesota, Toronto, and Chicago-AL).

NUESTRO CORAZÓN Y ALMA
2B Luis Arraez will be recognized tonight as the Marlins’ 2023 Heart and Hustle Award winner in a special pre-game ceremony on the field following the ceremonial first pitch. Arraez earns his second consecutive Heart and Hustle Award after being named the Twins’ 2022 recipient during his AL batting champion season in Minnesota. The Heart and Hustle Award is presented annually to one player on each team that “best embodies the values, spirits and traditions of baseball,” along with factoring in on-field performance.

ZEUS STRIKES
LHP Jesus Luzardo will toe the rubber for Miami today in his 27th start of the year. In his most recent start, on Aug. 22 at San Diego, Luzardo made his first scoreless outing since July 4, allowing just 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7 over 6.0 shutout innings to earn the win.

  • Has held opponents to 1 or 0 ER in 12 of his starts, tied for the 5th-most such starts in MLB. SD’s Blake Snell, PIT’s Johan Oviedo, LAA’s Shohei Ohtani, and TOR’s Yusei Kikuchi are tied for 1st with 13 such starts.

CITRUS SERIES SPOTLIGHT
The Marlins host the Rays this week at loanDepot park after splitting the two-game set at Tropicana Field last month. Over the last two seasons, Miami has gone just 2-11 against Tampa Bay, including a 1-5 mark at home. Overall, Miami has fared 59-77 all-time in the Citrus Series with a 32-37 record at home since the two teams began play in 1998.

FALSE STARTS
The Marlins have gone 16-27 in the first game of a series, dropping 12 of their last 15 series openers.

TEN IN THE ROUGH
Miami on Tuesday vs. Tampa Bay collected 10 hits, marking just the fifth time in the month of August the club recorded 10+ hits and the first since Aug. 13 vs. NYY (11 H). Miami had 11 such games in both June and July. Miami is tied for 4th in the National League with 49 games in which the team has collected at least 10 hits. Had just 43 such games in all of 2022.

DUCKS ON THE POND
The Marlins are batting just .191 (59×309) with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break, the 2nd-worst mark in MLB ahead of only Oakland (.186). Batted .266 with RISP prior to the break, the 4th-highest in the National League.

CATCHING ON
C Jacob Stallings has doubled in 3 consecutive games, marking the third time in his career he has recorded at least 1 extra-base hit in 3 straight games (April 11-13, 2021 and July 5-10, 2021). Stallings has also caught 2 of 3 basestealers in this same span of 3 games (Aug. 26-29). On the year, Stallings has thrown out just 19% of runners (9×48).

BURGER KING
3B Jake Burger is batting .330 (30×91) with a .857 OPS in 24 games since joining the Marlins on Aug. 2. Has 7 doubles, 2 home runs, and 11 RBI in this span, reaching base safely in 21 of the 24 games with 8 multi-hit efforts. Has committed 0 errors in 63 total chances at third base in 209.0 total innings. Burger leads the NL and joins MIN’s Willi Castro and KC’s Nicky Lopez as the only third basemen in MLB (min. 150.0 innings) to have 0 errors at the position in this span.

NICE TO SEE YOU
The Miami Marlins and loanDepot park have surpassed last year’s attendance total (907,487) as the 2023 season total stands at 960,026 through 68 home games. Overall, attendance at loanDepot park is up 25% through the first 68 games compared to the 2022 season.

STARTING PITCHER – #44 JESUS LUZARDO

  • Jesus Luzardo, 25, will make his 27th start of the season today. Marks his third career start against the Tampa Bay Rays. Last faced Tampa Bay on Aug. 30, 2022 at loanDepot park. Tossed 6.0 innings and allowed 3 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks. Struck out 4. In his most recent start on Aug. 22 at San Diego, allowed 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7 over 6.0 scoreless innings to earn the win. Marked his first scoreless outing since July 4 vs. St. Louis. His 167 strikeouts this season leads Marlins pitchers; tied for 8th among NL pitchers. 13 of his starts this year have been quality starts, the most among Marlins starters and tied for 5th-most among left-handed starters in MLB. Has struck out at least 8 batters in 10 starts this season; is tied for the third-most such starts in the NL (behind Blake Snell, SD – 11 and Spencer Strider, ATL – 21). His 10.5 SO/9 ranks second among left-handed NL starters (min. 100 IP), behind SD’s Blake Snell – 11.7. Is 4-4 this season at loanDepot park with a 3.38 ERA (85.1/32) in 15 starts and 5-4 with a 4.34 ERA (58.0/28) in 11 starts away. RHB vs. Luzardo in 2023: .260 AVG (112×430), .321 OBP, .784 OPS. LHB vs. Luzardo in 2023: 210 AVG (25×119), .260 OBP, .613 OPS.
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