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St. Petersburg Devil Rays series preview: The Red Army comes to Kansas City

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Putin’s henchmen come to sink the Royals’ ship

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two
Mr. Wendle
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

At 16-22, the St. Petersburg Devil Rays march to Kansas City to do Putin’s bidding. In this three-game series, the Rays hope to lay waste to the lowly Royals, enabling them to gain ground in the American League East (no one knows how these Russkies got into the American League), a division in which they find themselves fourth, trailing the betrothed Yankees and Red Sox by a full 11 games.

If there is one thing for which Vladimir Putin will not stand, it is failure whilst representing Mother Russia. These Devil Rays no doubt feel his watchful, vengeful eye turned upon them. As the pressure mounts, things could get ugly.

Game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Monday, May 14 — 6:05 PM CDT — Comrade Ryan Yarbrough (L) versus Eric Skoglund (L)
  • Tuesday, May 15 — 7:15 PM CDT — Comrade Cy TBD (maybe Anthony Banda?) versus Ian Kennedy
  • Wednesday, May 16 — 1:15 PM CDT — Comrade Jake Faria versus Jason Hammel

*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.

Devil Rays at Royals pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Game 1
Ryan Yarbrough (L) 9 29.1 27 21.6 10 8.0 4.30 3.97 4.93 4.13 0.4 -0.3
Eric Skoglund (L) 6 32.2 28 19.9 10 7.1 6.34 4.71 4.62 4.32 0.2 -0.3
Game 2
TBD - - - - - - - - - - - -
Ian Kennedy 8 41.0 39 21.3 13 7.1 4.61 4.42 4.19 4.22 0.5 0.3
Game 3
Jake Faria 8 40.2 33 19.3 17 9.9 5.09 4.85 5.02 4.85 0.2 -0.2
Jason Hammel 8 47.0 25 12.0 16 7.7 6.13 4.77 5.30 5.38 0.2 -0.3

Rookie Ryan Yarbrough came to St. Petersburg via the heartless trade that sent Drew “Damaged Goods” Smyly to Seattle for Mallex Smith, Yarbs, and Carlos Vargas. Yarby has made just two starts, pitching the bulk of the season from the bullpen. His last start saw him yield five earned runs against the upstart Atlanta Braves in five innings, striking out seven and walking none but serving up a three-run Markakis dong that was his ultimate undoing. That’s really his only poor outing of the season. A flyball lefty, Yarboload throws a four-seamer just 34.6% of the time, relying on his cutter nearly as often (29.0%). Right behind the cutter is a cambio that The Yarbohydrate changes pace with 26.8% of the time. His fourth offering is a slider that he offers just under 10% of the time.

Tuesday’s game is currently slated to be a bullpen game, a nefarious move by Putin’s squad if ever there were one. There is still the possibility that they could call up Anthony Banda, who was the 26th man on Saturday for their doubleheader but was optioned back down after the day’s games were complete. Banda was the centerpiece of the Steven Souza trade this past offseason. Banda has been striking out 11 per nine innings and walking four per nine in AAA. He’s repeating the level for the second time, so it’s only a matter of time before he is putting up or shutting up at the major-league level.

Jake Faria has pitched fairly well when not squaring off against AL East rivals. Unfortunately for him, he has to play AL East teams more than any other division, and he’s had three ROUGH starts—two in Baltimore (including his last start, in which he ceded seven earned in six innings) and one in Boston. His K% is down 4.1% from last year, and his BB% is up 1.2%, both trends in the suboptimal direction for the righty from Gahr High. He’s traded some sliders for changeups this season, and his change has actually been less effective (at least per pitch values)

St. Petersburg Devil Rays position players

Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Daniel Robertson Util 110 3 16 9 1 .279 .436 .453 .396 152 1.4 1.2
Mallex Smith (L) CF 122 0 13 8 9 .318 .397 .439 .368 133 0.9 0.8
Joey Wendle (L) 2B 110 1 14 10 3 .300 .345 .420 .332 109 0.7 1.3
Wilson Ramos CF 117 4 11 18 0 .303 .350 .459 .352 123 0.6 0.8
C.J. Cron 1B 156 8 19 23 0 .282 .333 .486 .352 123 0.6 0.6
Denard Span (L) LF 134 3 20 24 3 .245 .373 .391 .342 116 0.4 0.7
Johnny Field OF 45 2 8 4 1 .268 .318 .488 .346 119 0.3 0.7
Adeiny Hechavarria SS 127 2 13 13 0 .261 .296 .330 .272 69 0.1 0.3
Matt Duffy 3B 117 2 8 12 2 .309 .342 .409 .328 106 0.1 0.4
Brad Miller (L) DH 101 4 11 13 0 .244 .317 .433 .325 104 0.1 0.0
Jesús Sucre C 42 0 2 3 1 .231 .244 .256 .220 34 -0.1 -0.2
Carlos Gómez RF 150 5 16 11 3 .199 .247 .348 .260 61 -0.3 0.3
Rob Refsnyder OF 40 1 4 1 0 .161 .333 .258 .285 78 -0.3 -0.2
*stats through 5/12

Thanks to a team defense that fWAR does not love, the Rays have been decidedly middle of the road, worth 4.1 fWAR as a unit tying them with the Twins and the Giants for 17th in baseball. Their offense has actually been decent, compiling a 103 wRC+ and .323 wOBA behind a .264/.333/.402 triple-slash. Surprise performances from Daniel Robertson—who is neither David Robertson nor David Robinson, though it’s been said he prefers to be called the Rear Admiral—and Mr. Joey “Arrested Development” Wendle have everyone wondering what Putin’s putting in their water.

Poll

How will the Royals fare against Putin’s squad?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Royals sweep
    (8 votes)
  • 31%
    Royals take two of three
    (18 votes)
  • 39%
    Rays take two of three, live to see another series
    (23 votes)
  • 15%
    Rays sweep, parade route set across the Trinity Bridge
    (9 votes)
58 votes total Vote Now