The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox will play a weekend series at Fenway Park that could determine whether or not the Red Sox make the MLB playoffs this year. A series win would help their case but a series loss would throw them out of the playoff picture.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox
Friday, August 26, 2022 – Sunday, August 28, 2022, at Fenway Park
- Game 1: Friday, August 26 – 07:10 PM EDT
- Game 2: Saturday, August 27 – 04:10 PM EDT
- Game 3: Sunday, August 28 – 01:35 PM EDT
The American League Wild Card Standings are getting extremely close. The Yankees lead the AL East by a wide margin. The only way for the Rays and Red Sox to make the playoffs is by winning a Wild Card spot.
The Rays are starting the week at the top of the AL Wild Card and have gone 7-3 in their last 10 before Monday’s game.
On the other hand, the Red Sox are six games out of the AL Wild Card before their week gets started on a Tuesday.
If Boston wants a chance at making the playoffs, this series is huge. The Red Sox have to win this series against a team that they’re looking to chase.
Nothing is confirmed on the starting pitcher front, but we’re going to assume that the Rays will end up pitching Ryan Yarbrough against Michael Wacha of the Red Sox.
Yarbrough pitched on Sunday and allowed two runs, none earned, in 4.1 innings of work. He struck out five and helped the Rays notch a win over the Royals. The lefty has been getting a high strikeout rate with a low walk rate and continues to minimize hard contact.
Meanwhile, Michael Wacha has been tremendous this season. He has a 3.50 xFIP in the last 30 days with 28.9% of strikeouts and 4.4% of walks. Wacha seems like he’s back in his prime and could give a struggling Rays offense a hard time in this one.
In the second game of the series, we’re projecting that Jeffrey Springs will pitch against Nick Pivetta.
Springs is another lefty for the Rays, who have been just as good as Yarbrough. He’s earning 23.8% of strikeouts while limiting walks to 3.8% in the last 30 days.
Springs will allow a solid amount of line drives and has still struggled against lefties in the last 30 days, but overall, he’s still been very good for the Rays this season.
On the other hand, I haven’t been impressed with Nick Pivetta. He has a 4.32 xFIP in the last 30 days and has walked 8.1% of those batters. He has limited hard contact and didn’t pitch all that bad against Baltimore in his last start, but he’s been inconsistent, to say the least.
In the final game of the series, we’re likely going to see two veterans get after it between Corey Kluber of the Rays and Rich Hill of the Red Sox.
Kluber should be the first right-handed starter in this series for the Rays. He has a 4.05 xFIP in the last 30 days with 22.8% of strikeouts and just 2.4% of walks. He’s not getting a high amount of grounders and ultimately is giving up plenty of line drives. However, most of the power that Kluber is allowing is coming from the left side of the plate.
Hill, on the other, hand, just can’t seem to earn strikeouts anymore. He’s earned 9.6% of strikeouts in the last 30 days and has an xFIP of 5.26. However, he’s limited walks to 1.9% and is getting a fair amount of grounders while also limiting line drives.
Still, against righties, Hill is getting rocked around. Tampa Bay will have a right-handed lineup ready to slug away here.
The Rays aren’t hitting many extra-base hits against righties in the last 30 days. Manuel Margot is back with the Rays but Wander Franco is dealing with a setback that will hurt this offense.
The Rays absolutely have more potential batting against lefties in their lineup, but there are also other players in the lineup really struggling. The reality is, that the Rays haven’t been great offensively, but Manuel Margot could help this struggling offense.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox haven’t been much better. Against righties, Rafael Devers has been consistent along with Bobby Dalbec. Alex Verdugo can get on base. The Red Sox are still hitting 24% of line drives in the last 30 days against righties which is also helpful.
Against lefties, the Red Sox have way more power in their lineup with Tommy Pham and Xander Boagaerts leading the way. Christian Arroyo is also getting on base at a high rate.
The Red Sox should have success against those lefties and they should dodge Shane McClanahan in this series. That’s going to be beneficial. However, Boston has the worse pitcher in two of three games. It’s going to be a very interesting series with tons of excitement.
I’ve got the Rays taking two of three. Boston’s hopes of making the playoffs will decrease after this series is over.