RANGERS (46=36) AT RAYS (46-36)
4:10 p.m. ET; FS-SUN, FSSW, MLB.TV
Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect, Brendan McKay, will make his major league debut when the Rays host the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
McKay, 23, will fill the hole created when the Rays were forced to use Ryan Yarbrough during their 5-2, 18-inning win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.
The right-hander is expected to make at least two starts.
“I would say going out to the mound, hearing the national anthem, stepping onto the mound and taking (my) first warmup pitch,” McKay told MLB.com. “That’s when (I’m) going to realize it’s happening.”
Tampa Bay can certainly use a jolt. The Rays were shut out 5-0 by the Rangers on Friday night and have lost 12 of their last 17 games.
McKay was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 draft. He was 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA in eight games with Double-A Montgomery this season and was promoted to Triple-A Durham in late May. He went 3-0, 1.08 in five games — four starts — with 26 strikeouts in 25 innings there. The two-way prospect also saw action as the designated hitter.
“We’re excited to have him pick up a big spot for us on Saturday and come in and hopefully do what he’s continued to do,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash told MLB.com. “If he matches the success he’s had in Double-A and Triple-A, we should be in a pretty good spot.”
The Rangers, seeking their seventh straight win, will counter with right-hander Adrian Sampson (6-4, 4.14). After two rough starts, Sampson bounced back with seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Chicago White Sox in his last outing. He allowed seven hits, all singles.
“It resembled a lot of the Sampson we’ve seen a lot of the year, where he’s in command of his pitches, had that slider going,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward told reporters.
In his two previous starts, the 27-year-old Sampson had pitched to a 10.13 ERA while surrendering five homers and 13 hits.
Sampson lost his only prior career start against the Rays, allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Lance Lynn dominated Friday’s opener for the Rangers, throwing eight scoreless innings in a 5-0 win. Texas has won a season-high six straight games while Rangers starters have allowed one run or fewer in five straight games.
“I don’t think anybody in our clubhouse is surprised,” Woodward told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We believe we can beat any club on any day and that’s the idea. We know we’ve got starting pitching, a bullpen that can execute pitches and one of the best offenses, if not the best offense, in baseball.
The Rays, doubtless feeling the effects of Thursday’s marathon, managed only three hits.
“We got outplayed, outpitched and they came up with some timely hits,” Cash told reporters. “We’re a team right now that recognizes that things are not coming easy for us.”
–Field Level Media