Game #127 Lineups and Outlook
The Rays salvaged the split against the detestable, contemptible, garbage lice known as the Boston Red Sox with yesterday’s gutty win. Jake Odorizzi gave an incredible performance that he has been building towards ever since he got a bunch of rest around the All Star Break. He’s throwing all of his stuff exactly where he wants, which is allowing him to be more efficient, and better able to pitch deep into games. Every single bullpen will look better when it only needs to use it’s good pieces, but the Rays through that logic for a loop yesterday when Enny Romero and Tyler Sturdevant combined to lock down the ninth. Hopefully, that was a confidence-building moment that will allow each to go get same-handers with further gusto.
While it’s safe to say the Rays have underperformed expectations this year, they’ll head into Houston to take on a team that can make the same claim. The Astros were a surprising playoff entrant last year as everyone expected their rebuild to take a year or three longer. They’ve ran into the plexiglass principle a bit this year with some minor injuries and ineffective performance combining to hold down what could be a very good team. Look at the top of that order and you’ll see some of the best hitters in the game. None are a liability on defense, but the double play combo of Altuve and Correa are probably close to, but on the wrong side of average defensively. All these little things conspire to keep the team down, but they’re close enough that I’d expect them to be a real tough out the rest of the way.
The model and the gamblers are in perfect agreement on them today as both see the Astros as a heavy favorite. The aforementioned top of the order will be tough for Smyly, but power lurks throughout so he’ll really need to hit his spots to avoid some of the smashed meatballs he has run into in seemingly every start. The Rays face a very underrated pitcher in Fiers whose bugaboo, like Smyly, is the dinger. When he’s avoiding the big fly he pairs good strikeout rates with a league average amount of walks. The Rays will need to capitalize if they get him on the ropes, because if he gets in a groove the record will spin.
Of equal importance is that the Astros bullpen is filled to the gills with guys that could close if they were on another team. Devenski is a very good longman that I’m sure you’ve never heard of, and I’d expect Sipp/Neshek to be mostly used situationally. The rest of those guys can go out and get it. If they have a mop up guy it’s Peacock who has lost all semblance of shine that he once possessed as a top-100 prospect with the Nationals.
You’ll notice that both teams are rolling with the 3/8 bench/pen distribution. This will make it a little tougher to matchup at the plate later in the game, but that matters less since the Rays have been trying to expose their lefties to same-handers for a while now. The Astros bench is comprised of an ideal mix of a slugging lefty, a catching lefty, and a utility lefty.