Series Preview: Rays at Phillies

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When the Tampa Bay Rays (47-47) come to town, it instantly conjures up memories of the 2008 World Series, when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were mashing, Cole Hamels was winning the Series MVP, and Jimmy Rollins looked as smooth as ever on the field and base paths. All was right in Philadelphia. Much has changed since then, with very little of the players from that cold, wet Fall Classic still with the respective teams.

This season, the Rays have gone against the expectations of may prognosticators, and found themselves being fairly competitive Tampa is just 4.5 games out of first in the American League East Division race, despite taking just one game this past weekend in Toronto.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Tampa Bay has been carried by their rotation all season, with their offense ranked just 26th in runs produced. That unappealing offense is led by infielder Logan Forsythe (.279/.363/.423, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 7 SB), 3rd baseman Evan Longoria (.270/.342/.406, 9 HR, 41 RBI, and 1B/DH Joey Butler (.286/.340/.427, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 5 SB).

The Rays have been missing rookie sensation outfielder Steven Souza (.210/.301/.417, 15 HR, 33 RBI, 10 SB) and his power since the beginning of July when he went on the DL with a pinkie laceration. Luckily for them, he began a rehab a few days ago and is on his way back.

While the Rays still have one of their 2008 heroes in Longoria leading the offense, the Phillies have experienced a little changing of the guard this year. Headlining the Fightin’ Phils offense are still rookie 3rd baseman Maikel Franco (.279/.335/.480, 10 HR, 34 RBI), speedy outfielder Ben Revere (.299/.338/.381, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 22 SB), and a resurging shortstop Freddy Galvis (.273/.313/.349, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 6 SB).

PITCHING MATCHUPS:

David Buchanan (0-5, 7.58 ERA) v. Matt Moore (1-0, 7.07) – In a rare meeting of two plus-seven ERA pitchers, Buchanan is looking to build off his first start back in the Majors. He was just okay (5 IP, 1 ER, 8 H, 0 BB, 3 SO) in San Francisco. A start like that from Buchanan is certainly considered serviceable, but he would probably like to get a little deeper into the game. Recovering from Tommy John surgery in April of last year, Moore only returned from the DL at the beginning of July. He has struggled a bit since his return, allowing 11 earned runs in 14 innings over just three starts. Moore will be looking to recapture the success he enjoyed in the beginning of his career that made him such an part of the Rays’ rotation.

Aaron Nola v. Nathan Karns (4-5, 3.63) – Nola Day! In what is perhaps the singe most anticipated Phillies game this season, the Phils’ top pitching prospect will be making his MLB debut. Across two levels in the minor league system, Nola achieved a 10-4 record and 2.39 ERA while striking out 92 in 109.1 innings. He had little left to prove in the minor leagues, and stood for a call-up almost any day. Nola will now toe the rubber hoping to make a good first impression across the league. His opponent, Karns, is just this year establishing himself as a solid pitcher as well. Karns only pitched in 5 big league games over 2013-14, the first two seasons of his career. He’d love to build on his success and keep his first full MLB season rolling with a nice outing on Tuesday.

Adam Morgan (1-2, 3.91) v. Jake Odorizzi (5-6, 2.80) – Morgan appears to be settling in nicely as a reliable starter for the Phillies. The rookie lefty just pitched a greatis coming off a fantastic start last Friday night. After showing his resiliency, Morgan will look to keep improving and pushing new limits. Odorizzi is just two starts removed from being on DL with an Oblique injury. He’s been one of the Rays’ top pitchers, but is coming off his worst start of the season (4.1 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 5 BB, 1 SO). Odorizzi is looking for a bounce-back outing, and limiting his walks would be a tremendous help with that.

SERIES KEYS:

Good debut for Nola – While a good start from Nola would be helpful for taking this series, that’s not the key here. The Phillies would love to see their prized pitching prospect deliver with a nice start on Tuesday to help his MLB career off on the right foot. It would be a huge confidence boost for him, and would let him know that he is where he belongs. The Phillies are often fairly conservative in pitching debuts so he could have a fairly short leash tomorrow and may need to stay on top of his game.

Francoeur needs some time in the line-up – While he shouldn’t be given the full starting reigns, Frenchy’s play this past weekend merits some playing time in the quagmire of an outfield the Phils have currently. In two games against the Marlins, he went three for three while hitting two homeruns and five RBI; proving to be the difference maker in both games. Francoeur is doing some serious damage now and could be able to lead his squad again this series if he’s given the chance.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Monday: 7:05 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1680AM

Tuesday: 7:05 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1680AM

Wednesday: 7:05 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1680AM


NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE forecast for Citizens Bank Park in South Philly

Tonight

Isolated showers and thunderstorms before midnight. Partly cloudy, with a low around 76. West wind 5 to 7 mph becoming calm in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday

A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 93. Light northwest wind becoming west 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday Night

A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly between 8pm and midnight. Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. West wind 6 to 8 mph becoming north after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Wednesday

Sunny, with a high near 87. West wind 8 to 11 mph.

Wednesday Night

Mostly clear, with a low around 66. Northwest wind 5 to 7 mph


INJURIES / DEPTH CHART

RAYSDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Beliveau, Jeff (P)06/1760-day DLTBDRecovering from April 2015 left labrum surgeryUnderwent surgery April 23; transferred to 60-day DL on April 22.
Cabrera, Asdrubal (SS)07/1915-day DLTBDRight hamstring strainScheduled to begin baseball activities week of July 20; placed on 15-day DL on July 12.
Cobb, Alex (P)05/16Out for Season2016Recovering from May 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery on May 14.
Jennings, Desmond (CF)07/1960-day DLPossibly AugustRecovering from June 2015 left knee surgeryBegan working out with Class A Advanced club on July 18.
Smith, Burch (P)04/08Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryPlaced on 60-day DL on April 8.
Smyly, Drew (P)07/1960-day DLPossibly AugustLeft labrum tearThrew bullpen session July 18; scheduled to throw simulated game July 21.
Souza, Steven (RF)07/1815-day DLPossibly July 20Right pinky finger lacerationSent on Class A Advanced rehab assignment July 18.

PHILLIESDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Billingsley, Chad (P)07/19Any dayTBDRight elbow tightnessExited game early July 18.
Harang, Aaron (P)07/0215-day DLTBDPlantar fasciitis in left footPlaced on 15-day DL on July 2.
Hollands, Mario (P)04/20Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery April 8.
Lee, Cliff (P)04/0560-day DLPossibly 2015Left common flexor tendon tearShut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.
Pettibone, Jonathan (P)07/0960-day DLTBDRight shoulderScheduled to undergo surgery July 22.
Utley, Chase (2B)07/1215-day DLPossibly late JulyRight ankle inflammationDoing light running, fielding ground balls as of July 12 update.
Williams, Jerome (P)07/1815-day DLPossibly late JulyLeft hamstring strainSent on Double-A rehab assignment July 17.
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