Series Preview – Pittsburgh Pirates at Tampa Bay Rays

5-2-23 – By Christian Wolf – @CWolfPGH on Twitter

The Bucs took two of three against Washington, and now face their toughest test of the young season.

When & Who:

Pittsburgh Pirates (20-9) at Tampa Bay Rays (23-6)

Game 1 – (5/2, 6:40 EST)

Probable Pitchers:

For the Pirates – Roansy Contreras (3-1, 3.58 ERA)

For the Rays –  Javy Guerra (0-0, 8.64 ERA)

Game 2 – (5/3, 6:40 EST)

Probable Pitchers:

For the Pirates – Mitch Keller (3-0, 3.53 ERA)

For the Rays – Shane McClanahan (5-0, 2.12 ERA)

Game 3 – (5/4, 1:10 EST)

Probable Pitchers:

For the Pirates – Rich Hill (3-2, 4.18 ERA)

For the Rays – Zach Eflin (3-0, 3.00 ERA)

Team Trends

There aren’t many teams, if any, better than Tampa Bay right now. Outside of their 23-6 record, they’ve been dominant in both the pitching and hitting aspects. Their rotation leads the American League with a 3.22 ERA, and their 156 strikeouts are the 6th most in all of MLB. Their hitting is equally as impressive, leading baseball with a .879 OPS and also in home runs (61) and team RBIs (188). When you don’t make many mistakes, and you’re hitting .281 as a team, it’s obvious the Rays’ start to the season is anything but a fluke.

The Pirates are having a surging start of their own, winners of eight of their past ten games, and are coming off a series win in Washington. The Pirates rotation has also been impressive, posting a 3.83 ERA, good for 5th in the National League. Pirates pitching has also been racking up a high strikeout total, with their 153 strikeouts 2nd best in the NL. The Pirates offense has been a pleasant surprise too, with their .792 OPS being the 2nd best in the NL and 3rd best in MLB. Their patience at the plate has been noticeable too, having walked 113 times this year, tied for 3rd most in baseball.

Who’s Hot

For the Rays – Randy Arozarena: Plenty of choices for Tampa, but Arozarena collected a hit in every game in the Rays’ previous series against the White Sox, going 5-14 in that stretch. His seven home runs, 28 RBIs, and .965 OPS also cannot be ignored.

For the Pirates – Bryan Reynolds: Reynolds had a fantastic series against the Nationals, collecting hits in each game, and two hits in two of the three games. (5-10 in the series). Reynolds now has a .926 OPS on the season, and when paired with his .320 average, he’s looking like his new contract extension with the Bucs may be a massive steal for the team.

Who’s Not

For the Rays – Jose Siri: The Rays center fielder has collected just a single hit and no walks in his last three games, going 1-11 in that stretch. Siri still has a .749 OPS on the season but has had a rough go the last few games.

For the PiratesAndrew McCutchen: Rough series against the Nationals for Cutch, collecting just one hit in nine at-bats, with three strikeouts. McCutchen has looked strong for the majority of the season so far, but his production against the Rays will be critical, especially with the talent and success Tampa Bay has had pitching so far this year.

Series Overview & Prediction

You have the hottest team in the American League against one of, if not the hottest team in the National League. This is set up to be a fantastic series, maybe the series of the season so far.

Here’s my concern; the Rays’ pitching staff has been off the charts this year. So has their offense. They mash home runs and don’t give many up. The Pirates’ starters have done well limiting home runs so far this year, giving up just 17 so far, but it will be a massive challenge to keep the ball in the ballpark during this series.

The Pirates lineup, at least so far, has shown very few holes. They’re in a position they haven’t been in for quite some time, and it’s obvious the baseball world will be keen on seeing how the Bucs respond to a matchup of this level. For me, as hot as the Bucs are, it’s hard to see them slowing down Tampa Bay too much. Roansy Contreras, Mitch Keller, and Rich Hill have all been fantastic as of late this season. I think they can do enough to keep the Bucs in games long enough to give the offense a chance. But can the offense break through this Rays pitching staff?

I think Tampa takes two here. Two hot teams, it’s hard to pick one way or the other, but Tampa is hard to beat, and the Bucs are facing a challenge. The one fact that is easy to point out, however, is that this series is shaping up to be a good one, and both teams have a chance to win each and every game.

Published by Christian Wolf

Pittsburgh Pirates - InsidetheBucsBasement

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