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|NEW YORK — The Tampa Bay Rays have become one of baseball’s most pleasant surprises since implementing an unusual wrinkle into their starting rotation. But possessing a true old-fashioned ace atop their rotation hasn’t stopped the New York Mets from enduring one of the worst runs in their history.
Two teams heading in unexpectedly different directions will begin a rare three-game series Friday night when the Mets host the Rays at Citi Field.
It will be just the second time the Rays play the Mets at Citi Field since the stadium opened in 2009 Authentic Nico Hischier Jersey , though Tampa Bay played three “home games” against the New York Yankees at Citi Field last September after Hurricane Irma hit the gulf coast of Florida.
Right-hander Ryne Stanek (1-2, 1.98 ERA) is scheduled to serve as the “opener” for the Rays against Mets ace Jacob deGrom (5-4, 1.84).
Both teams were off Thursday after completing brief two-game interleague series on Wednesday when the Rays fell to the host Miami Marlins 3-0 and the visiting Mets beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3.
Despite falling to .500 with the loss, the Rays (43-43) received what has become a standard strong pitching effort. Tampa Bay has the lowest ERA in the majors (2.81) since May 19 when it began utilizing an “opener” instead of a traditional starting pitcher in select games.
The Rays have allowed three runs or fewer 25 times in the subsequent 43 games, 23 of which have been started by relief pitchers typically pitching three innings or fewer.
Stanek will make his 10th start, by far the most among openers. He has a 1.42 ERA as a starter and has pitched longer than 1 2/3 innings just once.
Stanek has also contributed as a late-inning reliever in the last six weeks, which means he’ll take the mound Friday fresh off three decidedly different experiences.
After tossing a scoreless inning as a starter against the Houston Astros last Saturday, Stanek took the loss Monday when he allowed a run without getting an out as the Rays fell to the Marlins 3-2 in the 10th inning before he tossed two hitless innings in Tuesday’s 9-6, 16-inning win.
“Ryne’s thrown the ball so well for us in that opener role,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters after the loss Monday. “He’s done some good things in the later innings.”
Nobody in baseball is doing a better job of things during traditional starter’s innings than deGrom Charles Clay Jersey , who leads the majors in ERA despite suffering from almost inconceivable bad luck. DeGrom has a 1.42 ERA in his last 13 starts, during which the Mets have gone 3-10 and deGrom is 3-4.
DeGrom’s misery is par for the course for the Mets (34-49), who have gone 7-22 since June 1 and are just 23-48 since an 11-1 start.
“I’m tired of losing to be honest — everybody else in here I’m sure is,” deGrom told reporters Saturday when he took the loss after allowing three runs in six innings as the Mets fell to the Marlins 5-2. “That’s not what we want to do. We came in here to win baseball games and we’re not doing that. We have to find a way to do that.”
With the Mets buried in the postseason race, deGrom has been the subject of trade rumors, though SNY reported Thursday that it appears he will stay with the team through at least the end of the season.
New York, which has a three-headed general manager setup after Sandy Alderson went on an indefinite leave of absence last week in order to battle a recurrence of cancer, is expected to hire a new general manager in the offseason.
Stanek has never faced the Mets. DeGrom didn’t factor into the decision in his only previous career start against the Rays on Aug. 7, 2015, when he gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings in New York’s 4-3 victory.
Shelby Miller is scheduled to return to the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ rotation Monday Adidas Ryan McDonagh Jersey , 14 months after the right-hander underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery.
Miller will face the Marlins in Miami. He rejoined the NL West-leading Diamondbacks before their game Thursday night against the Pirates after making four rehab starts in the minor leagues.
”I’m pretty excited but I’m assuming the first (start) back won’t be perfect,” Miller said. ”There are going to be times where I’m going to have to bear down and get through some stuff. I’ve talked to people (who have had the surgery) and they say command is the last thing to come back.”
The 27-year-old Miller pitched a combined 19 1/3 innings in his rehab starts, two with Double-A Jackson and two with Single-A Visalia. He allowed 10 runs and 20 hits while striking out 28 and walking six.
A 15-game winner in 2013 with the St. Louis Cardinals and an All-Star in 2015 with the Atlanta Braves, Miller was injured in his fourth start last season. He has a 5-14 record and 5.78 ERA in 24 starts since the Diamondbacks acquired him from the Braves in a trade prior to the 2016 season.
”I definitely have some thing to prove over here,” Miller said.
Miller will take the rotation spot of rookie right-hander Matt Koch, who was optioned to Triple-A Reno. Koch was 5-4 with a 4.40 ERA in 13 games, including 12 stats.
Right-handed reliever Jake Barrett was recalled from Reno. He has appeared in three games for the Diamondbacks this season.
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