MARLINS (42-66) AT RAYS (64-48)
1:10 p.m. ET; FS-SUN, FS-F, MLB.TV
The Miami Marlins (+1.5), who close a two-game series at the Tampa Bay Rays (-1.5) on Sunday, got off to an abysmal start this season, and they are still stuck in the mud.
Of Miami’s first 14 series, the Marlins won just one of them, with three draws.
Lately, though, the Marlins have improved, going 10-10-1 pending the result of Sunday’s game.
Tampa Bay outlasted Miami 8-6 in Saturday’s wild opening game that featured five lead changes.
“We’re looking forward to showing what we can do from now on,” Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas said before the series began. “We’re getting better.”
On Sunday, the Marlins will start left-hander Caleb Smith, who leads the Miami pitching staff in wins (7-4) and tops the rotation in strikeouts per nine innings (11.0) and ERA (3.43).
Smith, who made his major league debut in 2017 with the New York Yankees (-1.5), has already set his career highs in starts (17), strikeouts (119) and wins. He missed one month — from June 7 to July 6 — due to a hip injury, but went 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA since returning. In fact, July was his best month since he went 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA in April.
Pitching at Tampa Bay could be a factor for Smith, who is just 2-3 with a 4.17 ERA on the road this season. For perspective, consider that he is 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA in eight home starts this season.
Smith is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the Rays. He faced them most recently on May 14, when the Rays handed him his only home loss of the season, 4-0. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, two walks and two runs while striking out eight.
Tampa Bay will counter with right-hander Yonny Chirinos (8-5, 3.70 ERA). He has made 16 starts this season and six relief appearances, and has been consistent throughout. The 25-year-old Venezuela native is 5-5 with a 3.64 ERA as a starter and 3-0 with a 3.91 ERA in relief.
Chirinos seems to have settled in as a starter — he hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen since May 22 — but has never faced Miami in either capacity.
The Rays, who lead this all-time series 60-56, have nine pitchers who have saved at least one game this year. They include Nick Anderson, who earned the win on Saturday.
Anderson, traded by the Marlins on Wednesday, made his Rays debut on Thursday with a two-strikeout scoreless inning against the Boston Red Sox (+1.5). Anderson’s fastball reached 99 mph during that impressive inning.
“It was awesome to get out there for the Rays,” Anderson said. “But I was telling everyone not to expect that type of number (99) every time.”
–Field Level Media