Here are the lineups for Game 1 of the Rays-Rangers series tonight:
TAMPA BAY RAYS TEXAS RANGERS
1. Sean Rodriguez, SS 1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. B.J. Upton, CF 2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Evan Longoria, 3B 3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Ben Zobrist, 2B 4. Michael Young, 1B
5. Johnny Damon, DH 5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Kelly Shoppach, C 6. Mike Napoli, C
7. Casey Kotchman, 1B 7. Nelson Cruz, RF
8. Desmond Jennings, LF 8. Yorvit Torrealba, DH
9. Matt Joyce, RF 9. Craig Gentry, LF
SP Matt Moore, LHP SP C.J. Wilson, LHP
Pretty standard lineup for the Rangers versus left-handed pitching, with the exception of Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli being in there together. Mike Scioscia’s lack of faith in Napoli defensively led to him leaving the Angels, yet Ron Washington has chosen to use Napoli at catcher and Torrealba at DH. With tons of right-handed power the Rangers’ lineup is an extremely tough first assignment for Rays left-hander Matt Moore.
Tampa Bay’s lineup versus lefty C.J. Wilson is much less standard, as it includes three left-handed hitters in the bottom five spots. Mostly that just means manager Joe Maddon has opted not to platoon Matt Joyce, who hit just .217 off lefties. Wilson has a nearly identical platoon split this season, faring equally well versus righties and lefties, but he was almost unhittable versus lefties in 2010.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.