Rangers-Rays Matinee: At Least It Won’t Be Snowed Out!

rays injury

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 4:21 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2018 4:21 PM UTC

The Texas Rangers wrap up their only visit of the season to the Tampa Bay area as they face the Rays in a matinee Wednesday afternoon – at least we know it will be played.

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay RaysFree MLB Pick: Rangers (& Over)Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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At this point, we might just stop previewing outdoor games in cold-weather cities for a while here at SBR with the ridiculous amount of postponements in the early going. Three more were called off Monday, bringing the total to 24. That’s the most before May 1 in the last 15 seasons.

There’s not much nice to say about the Tampa Bay Rays’ s***hole of a stadium, Tropicana Field. It’s perhaps the worst stadium in American professional sports. But at least we know the Rays and Rangers will play Wednesday in the dome – although Monday’s Royals-Jays game in a dome was postponed -- with a first pitch of 1:10 p.m. ET to conclude a three-game set.

The Rays are making a case as the worst team in baseball, and things aren’t likely to get any better soon. That’s because former Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, a defensive magician, is going to miss up to three months following thumb surgery to correct torn ligaments. He was hurt sliding head first into second base in Sunday’s loss to the Phillies. When will these clowns learn to stop sliding headfirst!?!?

This will be the third straight season that Kiermaier will miss extended time. He broke his left wrist in 2016 diving for a ball and missed 48 games. Tampa was 14-34 in those. Last year, it was a fractured right hip that caused him to miss 61 games. The Rays were 29-32. While Kiermaier is a great outfielder, he doesn’t much. This year he was batting just .163 with one RBI and a .250 on-base percentage in 43 at-bats. Mallex Smith figures to take over full time. He’s probably a better hitter and is a speed demon on the bases.

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Probable Pitchers: Hamels vs. Faria

It’s Rangers ace lefty Cole Hamels on the bump, although I’m not sure it’s accurate to call Hamels an ace with his 1-2 record, 4.50 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in four starts this season. He did pitch a season-high six innings last time out in a no-decision in Houston but allowed two more homers. That’s seven already in 22 innings.

Hamels is 2-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career starts against the Rays. Both wins came at Tropicana Field, and one was Game 1 of the 2008 World Series, where he threw seven strong. Hamels might not have to worry about his gopher ball problems Wednesday as the Rays have no power to speak of and are atrocious offensively overall. Adeiny Hechavarria hits him well, going 11-for-29 career with four RBIs. Wilson Ramos is 5-for-26 with a homer. Carlos Gomez is 6-for-22 with a dinger.

It’s 24-year-old right-hander Jacob Faria (0-1, 8.18) for Tampa Bay. His ERA is skewed by a horrible start in Boston on April 7 where he allowed eight runs in just 1.2 innings. He was much better last time out vs. the Phillies, allowing one run with seven strikeouts over 5.1 innings in a no-decision. Faria has gone 10 appearances (eight starts) since his last win. He has never faced Texas, so that should be an advantage the first time through the lineup anyway.

  • Rangers are 31-8 in Hamels' last 39 starts vs. a team with a losing record.
  • Rays are 1-6 in Faria’s last 7 starts.

While Hamels is clearly not the dominant pitcher he used to be, those trends pretty much say it all. Tampa is also 1-4 in its past five vs. a lefty this year. Take the Rangers on a Wednesday MLB pick with a slight lean toward the ‘over’ as well.

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