Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (55-59) at Javier Baez (2-1)

In Series Previews by berselius

It’s hard to believe the Rays were ahead of the Cubs in the Race To The Top earlier this year. They take on the Javier Baez and the Baezettes in a weekend series in Wrigley that may or may not see a surge in ticket sales.

Team Overviews

(respective league ranks in parens)


  • wRC+: 105 (5th)
  • UBR: 8.1 (2nd)
  • UZR: 11.2 (7th)
  • DRS: -29 (12th)
  • SP FIP-: 97 (2nd)
  • RP FIP-: 102 (12th)
  • Run differential: -1 (9th)
  • R+RBI: 880 (11th)


  • wRC+: 89 (12th)
  • UBR: 5.7 (1st)
  • UZR: -0.5 (10th)
  • DRS: -16 (14th)
  • SP FIP-: 91 (2nd)
  • RP FIP-: 91 (4th)
  • Run differential: -43 (12th)
  • R+RBI: 874 (9th)

 News, notes, vengeance pacts, injuries, etc

Neil Ramirez started his rehab in the AZL on Wednesday, aside from that there’s next to no injury news for the Cubs. Felix Doubront threw a bullpen session on Sunday, and it sounds like they’re going to stretch out his dubious DL stint/rehab starts in order to stretch him out for September. I’d be surprised if he’s called up before then.

The Rays have been hit much harder with the injury bug, Wil Myers, Tim Beckham, Jerry Sands, and Matt Moore all hitting the 60-day DL. Kim DeJesus’s husband is also on the DL with a broken hand, and I’m guessing he’ll be out for a few more weeks still, and one of the five billion former Reds catchers that may or may not have killed the Cubs, Ryan Hanigan, is on the DL with an oblique strain.

Chris Coghlan is having a career year, which led to a longish twitter argument between myself and @ajwalsh08, formerly of GROTA as to whether it is for real. I’m hoping to have time in the next week to dive into the numbers (and find comps), but color me highly skeptical of Coghlan’s breakout. He had three straight seasons of sub-replacement level ball before this year. Maybe power does come late, but Joey Bats seems to me like the exception that proves the rule. I’m much more sympathetic to the concept that injuries held him back, but still. Three years.

The Cubs did indeed pick up Jacob Turner from the minors, in return for two A-ball pitchers. No word on who those pitchers may be yet, though Law says they’re non-prospect relief pitchers.

That Cole Hamels waiver trade isn’t happening, which I’m sure disappoints @fansince09. Shoulda traded Coal Hammels, RAJ.

Via Brett via Reddit, here’s a side by side gif of Baez and Gary Sheffield

 Pitching matchups

ERA, xFIP, projected FIP listed for each

Friday: Chris Archer, RHP (3.42, 3.71, 3.76) vs Tsuyoshi Wada, LHP (3.32, 3.85, 4.65), 3:05 PM CT

Given Archer’s past with the Cubs, there’s certainly been plenty of ink spilled about his abilities and the trade that sent him to Tampa. While there’s pretty much no doubt whatsoever that it was a strategically awful trade for the Cubs, I’m still kinda meh on all the guys the Cubs sent over to Tampa. Hak-Ju Lee is currently posting a .257 wOBA in AAA for the Rays, Chirinos and Guyer were bench players, and Archer was kind of a mess and it was a big question mark whether or not he was destined for the bullpen. Obviously I’m cherry picking things here and those are just my subjective opinions, but none of those guys were players I was particularly excited about.

Since joining the big league club, Archer has been pretty great, and could be their de facto ace now that David Price is pitching in Detroit. However it’s still very strange to see a guy who had an awful, awful walk rate his entire minor league career improve on it to the tune of 3.1 BB/9 in the bigs. We’ve seen enough recent Transformations that I’m more inclined to believe it than I was even three or four months ago, but I’d still be very nervous if I was a Rays fan. His walk rate has gone up significantly this year, though nowhere near as bad as it was in the minors.

Given the plethora of 4th/5th starter project types the Cubs have acquired recently, Wada’s walking a bit of a tightrope, but so far he’s pitched well enough to stay on the roster. Still, given how Hendricks has pitched even better I’m guessing that he pitches today then gets sent to Iowa to make room for Turner, who is out of options. He struck out six in five innings and change against the dodgers in his last outing.

Saturday: Jake Odorizzi, RHP (4.09, 3.70, 4.31) vs Edwin Jackson, RHP (5.66, 3.92, 3.93), 3:05 PM CT

The Odorizzi trade for the Brewers was pretty much the opposite of the Garza deal – not great for the Brewers when viewed in a vacuum, but pretty sound strategically given what kind of window they had for contending. They picked up Grienke and he was great for them in their (possible window-closing) playoff push all the way to the NLCS, while sending Odorizzi and The Most Exciting Player In Baseball To Post a Career .284 wOBA to KC, among other players. This is Odorizzi’s first full season with the Rays, and he’s been striking out the planet (10.03 K/9).

Edwin Jackson had a good start against his former team, striking out out six with no walks and allowing two runs in six innings, and IIRC seemingly throwing 50 pitches per inning.

Sunday: Alex Cobb, RHP (3.52, 3.42, 3.56) vs Travis Wood, LHP (5.08, 4.49, 4.23), 1:20 PM CT

Cobb is has quietly been quite good for the past three seasons for the Rays, and someone who is a Rays fan can probably say why he hasn’t had more than 23 starts in any of those years. He gets a ton of grounders, keeps his walk rate under control, and strikes out nearly a batter per inning. He posted back-to-back double digit strikeout games against the Brewers and Cardinals at the end of July so I guess he really likes pitching against the NL Central.

Wood followed up his career-high strikeout game with a kinda weird outing in Colorado. He didn’t get a strikeout until his final inning, walked a couple of guys and gave up some hits (not hard in Coors) and came away with a Quality Start. He’s not 5+ ERA bad, but he’s not 20 straight quality starts good either, and he shouldn’t be too worried about all the back of rotation pitchers breathing down his neck.

Share this Post