The Cincinnati Reds season is over. But we all still plan to keep watching and talking about baseball, right? The playoffs are great. Playoff baseball is great. We saw that on display last night, didn’t we? We’re going to keep the daily game threads rolling for the entirety of the playoffs here at Redleg Nation even if the Reds are watching them from home like we are. Tonight kicks off the American League side of the playoffs as the Oakland Athletics host the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Matchup

Tampa Bay Rays (96-66) vs. Oakland Athletics (97-65)

Both of these teams finished second to 100+ win teams in 2019. In a league where there was a big gap between the haves and the have-nots, these organizations were just behind the biggest of the “haves”. Oakland finished one game better than the Rays this year, giving them the rights to host this 1-game “series”.

Stat Comparison and Rankings

Both of the offenses here were solid, but unspectacular. It’s the pitching that seems to separate these teams. The Rays had pitching that was significantly better, especially once you start looking at adjusting for ballpark effects.That’s where they really show the difference in the pitching.

The Starting Pitching Matchup

This is a fun one. The Rays are turning to Charlie Morton, who started every single time it was his turn to go this year for Tampa Bay. The Athletics are handing the ball to Sean Manaea, who pitched in five whole games this season.

Charlie Morton was signed before the year for 3-years and $45M (option on the 3rd season at a value that changes depending on his injured list time). In the first year it turned out to be an absolute STEAL of a signing. Morton went 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA (146 ERA+) while throwing 194.2 innings, walking 57 hitters, giving up just 15 home runs, and striking out 240 batters. His performance got him named to the American League All-Star team. Morton has 31.1 innings of playoff experience in his career. He pitched in 2013 with the Pirates, then in 2017 and in 2018 with the Astros.

Sean Manaea didn’t make his 2019 debut until September 1st. The left-handed pitcher missed the rest of the season while recovering shoulder surgery. When he returned he must have felt like making up for lost time because he’s been dominating. It was only five starts in September, but my goodness they were good. The lefty posted a 1.21 ERA in 29.2 innings, allowing just 16 hits, 3 home runs, 7 walks, and he struck out 30 batters. His WHIP was a laughably low 0.78. This will be his first playoff start.

The Starting Lineups

Tampa Bay Rays

  1. Yandy Diaz – 1B
  2. Tommy Pham – DH
  3. Austin Meadows – LF
  4. Travis d’Arnaud – C
  5. Matt Duffy – 3B
  6. Avisail Garcia – RF
  7. Willy Adames – SS
  8. Kevin Kiermaier – CF
  9. Michael Brosseau – 2B
  10. Charlie Morton – SP

Oakland Athletics

  1. Marcus Semien – SS
  2. Ramon Laureano – RF
  3. Matt Chapman – 3B
  4. Matt Olson – 1B
  5. Mark Canha – CF
  6. Jurickson Profar – 2B
  7. Khris Davis – DH
  8. Robbie Grossman – LF
  9. Sean Murphy – C
  10. Sean Manaea – SP

Game Information

Start time: 8:09pm ET

Television/Radio: ESPN | ESPN Radio

6 Responses

  1. Doug Gray

    Just as a heads up, you can also watch this on ESPN2 if you would prefer to get the “Statcast” broadcast.

  2. Sliotar

    Good point about finishing 2nd to 100-win clubs.

    Oakland went 5-1 vs. Cleveland
    Tampa Bay went 6-1 vs. Cleveland

    And, IMO, Cleveland is a good club, with a really good manager….but it had no answer for tonight’s combatants.

    • Indy Red Man

      Yeah I think Clev was 18-1 vs Detroit. I will say they match up on paper very well. I wonder if Lindor/Puig/Clevinger, Ramirez, etc were around when they played Oak & TB?

  3. Indy Red Man

    Once again…let me call for Avi Garcia!! He’s on a 1 year deal and came in last year and destroyed the Reds in gabp. He could go off for the Reds and wouldn’t cost a ton

  4. Indy Red Man

    Tampa found Yandy Diaz. He’s hit more HRs tonite then he did for Clev last year.
    Milw found Drew Pomeranz. He looked like vintage Andrew Miller for them. The Reds FO needs to get to work!