Aug. 3 MLB Preview — Miami Marlins (42-65) at Tampa Bay Rays (63-48)

(Yonny Chirinos photo courtesy Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Saturday, Aug. 3, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla., 6:10 p.m. EDT.

After getting bailed out following his worst start of the season, Yonny Chirinos hopes to return the favor with a quality outing Saturday night when he leads the Tampa Bay Rays into the first of two games against the Miami Marlins for Sunshine State bragging rights.

There will also be some old faces in new places as the teams swung a four-player deal minutes before Wednesday’s trade deadline as the Rays acquired pitchers Trevor Richards and Nick Anderson for relief pitcher Ryne Stanek and outfield prospect Jesus Sanchez.

Hernandez tries to build on modest start for Marlins

The Marlins (42-65) have shuttled Elieser Hernandez (1-4, 4.93 ERA) in and out of their rotation with mixed success this year, and the hope is the right-hander will pitch deeper into this contest after a solid yet short outing last time out.

Hernandez held Arizona to one run and three hits in four innings Sunday as Miami eventually recorded a 5-1 victory. He threw 38 of his 66 pitches for strikes in his first start since July 4, and with starters Richards and Zac Gallen dealt in separate trades, Hernandez will be given every opportunity to nail down a spot in the rotation.

The righty is 1-3 with a 3.82 ERA in six starts this year, and the expectation is he will throw approximately 80 pitches after going from 38 to 66 in his previous outing. Hernandez threw three hitless innings in two relief appearances as a rookie last year versus the Rays.

Miami failed to score in its first two-game series at home versus Tampa Bay in May, going 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position while making no use of 13 hits in the two losses.

Chirinos tries to get back on track after rough outing

The Rays originally had Chirinos (8-5, 3.70) listed as their scheduled starter early Friday before pulling his name off the board, and Diego Castillo (1-6, 3.73) will get the call to open for the second time this year.

Chirinos (8-5, 3.70) had his worst line of the season as a starter Sunday at Toronto, where the Blue Jays drilled him for seven runs and eight hits in four-plus innings. The Rays, though, picked up the right-hander by rallying from a seven-run deficit to record a 10-9 victory in that contest as his winless stretch extended to three starts.

If Castillo does open as expected, it would be the first time Chirinos will follow an opener in 13 starts, having gone 3-4 with a 4.06 ERA since the last time Kevin Cash used one for him in late May. The righty won his only interleague start this year, limiting San Francisco to two hits in five innings of a 3-0 road victory April 7, and will be facing the Marlins for the first time.

Castillo’s lone appearance as an opener came at Toronto on July 26 when he recorded a 1-2-3 inning on 10 pitches. He has been scored upon once in his last nine outings, striking out nine in 6 2-3 innings.

Tampa Bay (63-48) is seeking its first five-game winning streak since a six-game run from May 25-30. The Rays, who began play Friday with a one-half game lead on Oakland for the second wild-card spot, are coming off a three-game sweep of Boston that opened a 3 1/2-game lead for second in the AL East.

Jesus Aguilar made an instant impact in his Rays debut in Thursday’s 9-4 win at Fenway, going 2 for 3 with two runs scored and two walks. Aguilar was acquired from Milwaukee in hopes the change of scenery will help him rediscover his power stroke from last year when he hit 35 homers to help the Brewers win the NL Central.

“I just try and see how many pitches I can [see],” said Aguilar, who has only eight homers this season, to the Rays’ official website. “I kind of don’t know those pitchers, so I tried to see what they have. I’m feeling pretty good at home plate right now, so I think I’m going to be all right.”

Notable Trends

The Rays are:

  • 23-7 in their last 30 interleague games vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 5-0 in their last five games vs. right-handed starters.
  • 6-2 in their last eight interleague games.

The Marlins are:

  • 1-6 in their last seven vs. AL East teams.
  • 4-11 in their last 15 interleague road games vs. above-.500 teams.
  • 1-4 in Hernandez’s last five road starts.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Marlins UNDER 3.5 runs (-131)

This is more of an anti-Marlins pick than a pro-Chirinos one. Miami has scored two or fewer runs in seven of its last nine games on top of being blanked in the previous two matchups between the teams. The Marlins have also given Hernandez two or fewer runs in support in five of his six starts on the season.

The Rays also have held teams to three or fewer runs in seven of their eight interleague home games.

****4-Star Picks****

Rays -1.5 runs (-105)

The Rays continue to hang around in the AL East race, but the big thing is the wild-card, hence their trade with the Marlins to fortify their bullpen and land Aguilar to help offensively. Their offense has picked up during their five-game winning streak, and they should have enough to see off the Marlins and extend it to six.

UNDER 5 runs first 5 innings (-125)

The flat five feels like a gift of a half-run considering the first two games between the teams were 1-0 in favor of Tampa Bay after five innings. While the Rays offense has picked up of late, the five-inning under is 6-3-1 in their last 10 home games.

The five-inning under has gone 5-1 in Hernandez’s six starts and the Marlins have scored two or fewer runs in the first five innings in 10 of their previous 12 road games.

UNDER 0.5 runs/NO 1st inning run (-105)

There has only been an instance of a first-inning run twice in the last 11 games between the teams, and Tampa Bay scored in both instances. Hernandez has not given up a first-inning run in his six starts, conceding three hits while striking out nine, and Castillo has fanned 14 in just eight 2-3 innings facing NL opponents, allowing two hits while holding hitters to a .074 batting average.

Miami has failed to score in the opening frame of its last nine road games, but its pitchers have tossed a scoreless first in the last nine contests. The Rays had nine games without a first-inning run before nicking one off Boston in the last two games of that series.

***3-Star Picks***

UNDER 8.5 runs (-105)

The number came in as expected at 8.5 runs, and with the Marlins inconsistent offensively on the road, the under is the play. The under has been trending solidly behind Hernandez when he gets the ball to start, going 6-0-1 in his last seven starts versus teams with a winning record, 4-1 in his last five road starts, and 4-1 the last five times he opened a series.

The under has been good for Tampa Bay on Saturdays, going 6-2-1 in the last nine, and the under is also 5-1-1 in their last seven games against sub-.500 NL teams.

Rays -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-145)

Tampa Bay’s interleague play at home again comes into play for this pick, entering the contest 5-2-1 at the midway point versus NL teams as well as 5-2-1 in its last eight contests overall. The Marlins are 3-6-3 after five innings in their last 12 on the road and 2-5-1 in their last eight overall.



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