I just taped today’s HBT Daily and in it we played the “dead or alive” game. I declared the Tampa Bay Rays dead. I did so based on how poorly they’re playing, how injured they are and the fact that they don’t have the horses or dollars to make big changes in the middle of the season.
David Schoenfield of ESPN is a bit more statistically-oriented than me, and he made the case today in more compelling statistical terms:
I looked up all teams over the previous 10 seasons that had won between 22 and 24 of their first 60 games. This provided a list of 26 teams off to bad starts similar to the Rays.
Only one of the 26 teams finished with a winning record and the average final record of those 26 teams was 67-95. Devil Rays, indeed.
Schoenfield says it’s time to trade David Price. I can’t say he’s wrong.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.