With their loss last night, the Tampa Bay Rays' record over their last ten games has fallen to 4-6, but the good news for them is every other team in their division also lost last night. As they look to even their series with the Diamondbacks tonight, we’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing in this one.
On paper, last night’s matchup to open this series looked like it could be a pitcher's duel, with one of the most exciting young arms in Taj Bradley taking on the Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen. That would ultimately not be the case, though, as a combined nine runs were scored in the first two innings. Gallen would go on to pitch six innings and keep Tampa Bay off the board after their four-run second inning, while Arizona would continue to add runs and end up winning the game 8-4.
Home runs by Ketel Marte, Corbin Carroll, Christian Walker, and Evan Longoria were a majority of the run support the Arizona offense gave their pitching staff. Tonight they will look to provide that same level of support to Zach Davies, who will be making his ninth start of the season. The veteran has been one of the weakest links in the Arizona rotation, as he is pitching to a 7.82 ERA in 35.7 innings.
Davies has his work cut out for him tonight with a Rays' lineup that, despite being 4-6 over their past ten games, they have still scored four more runs in eight of those games. Even with the team failing to score after the second inning, in that inning, Jose Siri left the yard for his 15th home run of the season while Christian Bethancourt also drove in one of the runs.
Getting the ball for Tampa Bay tonight will be right-hander Zach Eflin. In 14 starts and 83.3 innings, the veteran boasts a 3.35 ERA with 84 punchouts and 15 walks. Eflin’s last time on the hill resulted in his 9th win of the year as he went six innings with seven strikeouts and three earned runs allowed.
Even with a losing record as of late, the Rays still get a lot of respect from bookmakers, as they should. Entering tonight, Tampa Bay can be found at (-146) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Not only are the Rays 11-4 in their last 15 games following a loss, but they hold the advantage in the pitching department tonight.
Arizona’s starter Zach Davies is currently in the 15th percentile in expected batting average, 30th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, and 39th percentile in hard-hit percentage. Between those numbers and his 9.90 ERA at home, the right-hander is in for a tough matchup with a Rays lineup that is 15th in wRC+ against righties on the road over the last month.
Meanwhile, Zach Eflin is in the 57th percentile in hard hit percentage, 74th percentile in expected batting average, and 86th percentile in xERA/xwOBA. With his 53.5% groundball percentage and strong strikeout numbers, I think he can hold a talented Arizona lineup at bay tonight. Also, when Eflin is done, he will hand the ball to a Rays bullpen with a 2.62 ERA since the start of June.
Tampa Bay Rays (-146)