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Friday, September 29, 2023

Wild-card contenders conflict as Rays open sequence vs. M’s

The Tampa Bay Rays have made a behavior of discovering pitchers and turning them into profitable reclamation tasks underneath the tutelage of pitching teaching Kyle Snyder.

One in every of his proteges, reliever Robert Stephenson, would possibly see motion on Thursday when the Rays open a four-game sequence in opposition to the Seattle Mariners in St. Petersburg, Fla.

In a Tampa Bay season stuffed with accidents to pitchers, Stephenson has emerged as the very best turnaround story on the membership.

Stephenson, 30, struggled with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, going 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 18 appearances, however Snyder felt Stephenson’s excellent slider would work properly with the Rays.

On June 2, the group acquired him in change for shortstop prospect Alika Williams.

“We knew the (slider) had improved,” Snyder mentioned. “I feel it is most likely outperforming our personal inner numbers.”

It actually has.

Since altering groups, Stephenson ranks among the many main league leaders in whiff charge, the share of swing and misses divided by swings. His determine is simply over 50 p.c with Tampa Bay.

Via 31 2/3 innings over 34 appearances underneath Snyder, the 2011 first-round choose has allowed solely 14 hits and eight walks whereas hanging out 49 — 13.9 Ok’s per 9 innings.

Stephenson is 2-1 with a 2.56 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP for the Rays after throwing an ideal inning on Wednesday within the Rays‘ 3-1 victory over the Boston Pink Sox. Batters hitting simply .132 in opposition to the right-hander since he modified groups.

“It has been fairly eye-catching simply to see the variety of swings and misses which might be occurring on that specific pitch,” Snyder added. “The slider’s efficiency has actually been unimaginable.”

The Rays (85-55) will look so as to add to their 15-5-3 residence sequence document once they hosts the Mariners, who’ve cooled barely on the finish of a scorching summer season.

Seattle (78-61), which sits within the second American League wild-card place behind Tampa Bay, went 21-6 final month (.777) and is 40-19 (.678) for the reason that begin of July. The Mariners sit one recreation behind the Houston Astros (80-61) within the AL West.

The Mariners determine to have a strong shot at denting the Rays‘ AL-best residence document of 47-24: They’re 17-9 in St. Petersburg since 2014.

Regardless of the sturdy performances, Seattle is simply 2-4 to start its 10-game highway journey. The Mariners averted being swept in Cincinnati by beating the Reds 8-4 on Wednesday earlier than flying to Florida.

J.P. Crawford, Cal Raleigh and Mike Ford homered to again the nine-strikeout pitching of Logan Gilbert because the Mariners fortified their postseason push.

Seattle supervisor Scott Servais will ship out Luis Castillo (11-7, 3.19 ERA) within the sequence opener in opposition to the Rays.

Opponents are batting .214 in opposition to Castillo, which leads the AL amongst certified starters. He’s 0-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two profession begins in opposition to the Rays. Castillo received a no-decision vs. Tampa Bay on July 2 after yielding six runs, 4 earned in six innings.

“You may really feel the positivity and the great vibes right here,” Castillo mentioned of his group’s sturdy August run. “It is a group that simply needs to go on the market and win.”

Zack Littell (3-4, 4.69 ERA) will make the beginning for Tampa Bay after permitting precisely 4 runs in every of his previous three outings. In his lone profession look in opposition to the Mariners, he tossed an ideal inning of aid with two strikeouts at Seattle on July 2.

—Area Degree Media

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