It’s do-or-die time for the Rays and Rangers in Game 163. And the Rays have the early advantage.
Delmon Young delivered a sacrifice fly in the top of the first inning to give the Rays an early 1-0 lead, but things could have been much worse for the Rangers and their young left-hander Martin Perez.
Desmond Jennings led off the game by ripping the first pitch from Perez the left field line, but he was cut down by Craig Gentry while trying to stretch it into a double. This is Jennings’ first game back in the starting lineup in over a week due to a hamstring strain and he clearly isn’t 100 percent yet. It proved to be a big moment in the inning, as Martin went on to walk Wil Myers on four pitches and give up singles to Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria. However, Perez was able to avoid the big inning by getting Young to fly out deep to center field and Sean Rodriguez on a strikeout.
A number of teams are making calls about Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson these days, as is the general nature of the offseason. Per Jason Kinander of FanSided, there have been some preliminary trade discussions between the Dodgers and the White Sox, though a formal deal doesn’t appear imminent and any potential competition from other clubs is still unknown.
Pederson, 26, has enjoyed quite a run with the Dodgers over the last five years. A perennial 25-home run hitter (when healthy), he slashed .248/.321/.522 with 56 RBI, an .843 OPS, and 2.7 fWAR through 443 plate appearances during the 2018 regular season. Following the Dodgers’ unsuccessful postseason campaign, Pederson agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract in advance of the arbitration deadline, and is currently slated to remain under team control through the 2020 season.
Despite his relative affordability and clear value to the club, shedding Pederson from their roster would allow the Dodgers to pursue the kind of right-handed hitters they need to balance out their 2019 lineup. It’s not certain what the White Sox are prepared to give up, but Kinander mentions right-hander Carson Fulmer, lefty reliever Aaron Bummer, and recent draft pick/third baseman Bryce Bush as a few possibilities.