The two-game battle for the state of Florida continues Wednesday night as the Miami Marlins host the Tampa Bay Rays. After winning 4-0 on Tuesday, the Rays will go for the two-game sweep of Miami.
The Rays are maintaining a slim one-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East. Tampa is just 6-6 since the calendar flipped to May, so they’ve not been at their best lately. After dropping two of three to the Yankees at home last weekend, the Rays head to the Bronx for three games this weekend, and they can’t afford to go there following a loss on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Marlins have taken their rightful place at the bottom of the NL East. After Tuesday’s loss, Miami has now dropped six in a row, giving them a 10-30 record on the season, which may actually be worse than most anticipated. That 10 wins is the fewest in baseball, as Baltimore’s 14 wins are the second-fewest, leaving little doubt the Marlins are the worst team in the majors.
Jose Urena will start for Miami on Wednesday. Once the team’s undisputed ace, Urena has had a rough start to the 2019 campaign. Over his first eight starts, he’s 1-5 with a 4.82 ERA. For what it’s worth, he’s coming off a start in which he allowed just one earned run over seven innings against the Cubs. He’s allowed two runs or less in three of his last five starts, which is a good sign. But Urena has also had some rough outings.
The Rays may not be the greatest offensive team in the league, but they have enough to make opposing pitchers sweat. The return of Austin Meadows from the IL has been huge for Tampa Bay, as he’s their leadoff hitter. Yandy Diaz and Avisail Garcia have also been leading the charge lately. There may be places where Urena can pitch around Tampa’s big bats and get some easy outs, but the heart of the order is strong.
As usual, the Rays will go with an opener rather than a traditional starter on Wednesday. Ryne Stanek will officially be making his 11th start of the season, although he never goes more than two innings in any particular start. The good news for Tampa is that their bullpen is fresh. Charlie Morton, one of the two traditional starters in the rotation right now, tossed six innings in Tuesday’s game, so the bullpen only needed to contribute three innings. The Rays also had Monday off and will have Thursday off, so everyone in the bullpen should be available.
Meanwhile, the Miami lineup has been a disaster this season. Veterans Neil Walker and Martin Prado are the only two regulars hitting over .240. Walker is also the only regular with an OPS higher than .700. The Marlins have managed to score more than two runs just twice in their 11 games during the month of May, which sums up their offensive struggles this year.
Let’s be honest; the Marlins are a long shot to win this game. Even if Urena has one of his better outings, it’s unlikely Miami will scratch out more than a run or two. Bet on the Rays to beat the Marlins on Wednesday.