With exactly 11 games remaining on both teams’ schedules, the Dodgers welcome the Rays to Chavez Ravine for a quick, interleague set beginning on Tuesday.
The two-game series has playoff implications for both clubs.
The Rays are currently in the thick of the American League Wild Card race. They trail Oakland by just one full game for the top spot while leading the Indians by 1-1/2 games for the second spot.
As far as must-win games go, it’s probably safe to say that Tampa Bay has a lot more to play for than the Dodgers.
Nevertheless, Los Angeles has already clinched home field advantage for their prospective NLDS matchup and leads Atlanta by four full games for home field throughout the National League playoffs. Before the start of Tuesday’s games, the Dodgers trail the Yankees and the Astros by one full game each for the best record in the majors.
With just four series remaining on the regular season schedule, the Rays are the only team with a winning record the Dodgers will face before the start of the NLDS.
This will be the second meeting between the Rays and the Dodgers this season. Both clubs battled in Tampa in a two-game series back in May, producing a 1-1 split. The Dodgers handled the Rays 7-3 in the first meeting, but the Rays salvaged the second game with a convincing 8-1 victory.
In the second game, the Rays used a combination of five different pitchers in a bullpen game to shut down the offensive attack of the Dodgers. Coincidentally, lefty Adam Kolarek and righty Casey Sadler both made appearances for Tampa Bay. The Dodgers’ only run came in the sixth inning when Max Muncy homered off Tampa right-hander Yonny Chirinos.
In terms of team rankings, the Rays have the top pitching staff in the American League with an overall 3.65 ERA. However, they’re right in the middle of the pack in run production with 719 runs scored—good enough for ninth in the AL.
24-year-old center fielder Austin Meadows—a former top prospect for the Pirates who the Rays snagged in the Chris Archer deal—leads the team in just about every offensive category. In 492 AB this season, the left-handed hitting native of Atlanta is slashing .289/.357/.563 with 28 doubles, 31 homers and 87 RBI.
Conversely, the Dodgers are the top run-producing team in the National League with 818 runs scored. On the pitching front, Los Angeles far and away has the best overall team ERA in the NL at 3.39—the next closest squad is the Cardinals at 3.80.
Regarding the pitching matchups, Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.40 ERA) will face southpaw Blake Snell (6-7, 4.28 ERA) in the opener. In the final game on Wednesday, Tony Gonsolin (3-2, 2.83 ERA) will square off against another lefty in Brendan McKay (2-4, 5.27 ERA). Look for a right-handed dominant batting order from the Dodgers in both contests.
Tuesday’s first pitch is slated for 7:10 PM Los Angeles time while Wednesday’s game will begin at 5:10 PM.