Records Entering Series: BOS (32-15, 2nd in AL East), TB (22-23, 3rd in AL East)
Boston has continued to roll through their lesser competition this year, most recently taking 3 of 4 against Baltimore at Fenway. They’ll roll into Florida to face a Tampa team that has been rather surprising so far this year, sitting just below .500 after entering the season with absolutely no expectations.
Boston will look to take at least 2 of 3 from this set before heading back home to open up a very tough stretch of games.
Game Times and Pitching Matchups
Game 1: 7:10 pm EST, Chris Sale (4-1, 2.29) vs. Jacob Faria (3-2, 5.20)
Game 2: 7:10 pm EST, David Price (4-4, 4.38) vs. Chris Archer (3-3, 5.01)
Game 3: 7:10 pm EST, TBD vs. Blake Snell (5-3, 3.07). Note: Drew Pomeranz was pushed back off of his scheduled start for game 3. He pitched a simulated game at Tropicana today in an attempt to work out his command issues. Rick Porcello is the presumptive candidate to take the mound in game 3, but the Red Sox website still lists the starter as TBD.
Hitters to Watch
BOS: Mookie Betts – It’s a toss up between Betts and Martinez here, as both are on fire, but Betts gets the nod simply because of his dynamism. He’s leading the league in too many statistical categories to list here, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Look to see if he can add to his HR and steals totals.
TB: C.J. Cron – Cron is Tampa’s biggest power threat, with 11 HR this year, but not at the expense of a decent average either. He’s currently hitting a respectable .278 and is miles ahead of his closest teammate with 89 total bases.
Pitchers to Watch
BOS: David Price – Price was absolutely brilliant his last time out, notching a complete game and only needing 95 pitches to do so. The Tampa offense, while nothing to sleep on, isn’t super high powered, so he has a good chance to build upon his previous outing and get himself into a groove.
TB: Blake Snell – Snell is 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA over his last 7 starts, sporting a K/9 rate over 9 and a 0.98 WHIP. He’s been Tampa’s most effective and consistent pitcher this year, as season ERA is sitting just above 3 in 10 starts.
Matchup to Watch: Boston’s 7-9 hitters vs. Tampa pitching.
Eduardo Nunez, Christian Vazquez/Sandy Leon, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. have held down the 7-9 spots in Boston’s lineup for most of the year, and to be frank, they’ve been well below par. Nunez is currently hitting .241, Vazquez .193, Leon .208, and Bradley a putrid .165. With Mookie Betts raking like he is, it would be nice to give him some consistent base runners to drive in, which would require the bottom of the order to step it up and start producing.
Eventually the top of the order will begin to regress a bit towards the mean, and that’s when the holes at the bottom will begin to become more glaring. Tampa’s pitching isn’t great, so this could be a good series for one or all of them to begin to break out of their respective funks.