The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox will play Game 4 of their best-of-five American League Division Series on Monday night at Fenway Park. The Red Sox lead the Rays, 2-1, meaning they’ll advance to the Championship Series with a victory. Conversely the Rays, the top seed in the AL, will be sent home with another defeat.
Both teams will be dealing with a compromised pitching situation in Game 4 after playing a marathon 13-inning contest on Sunday. The two sides combined to use 16 pitchers who threw 389 total pitches before Boston catcher Christian Vázquez hit a walk-off two-run homer against Rays right-hander Luis Patiño.
Each side has already had to adjust their Game 4 pitching plans before a pitch has been thrown. The Rays will use righty Collin McHugh as an opener on Monday while the Red Sox counter with lefty Eduardo Rodríguez. Patiño and Nick Pivetta, the pitchers of record in Game 3, had previously been viewed as the likeliest candidates to start Monday.
How else might Sunday’s game impact Monday’s? Let’s break it down on each side.
Tampa Bay received the worst end of the marathon. Drew Rasmussen, Sunday’s starter, was yanked after two innings, forcing manager Kevin Cash to use his bullpen for 10-plus innings.
Despite that, and despite the game going past the regulation length, Cash was able to avoid overtaxing most of his bullpen. Indeed, only one Rays reliever threw more than 25 pitches on Sunday, with that being veteran right-hander David Robertson. From our perspective, he’s the lone reliever who appears unlikely to pitch in Game 4:
The Rays do have a pair of relievers who should be fresh: McHugh and Michael Wacha, who could provide length if Tampa Bay deems it necessary. The one problem with using Wacha for much of Game 4 is that he isn’t particularly good. During the regular season, he posted a 5.05 ERA (78 ERA+) across 29 appearances (including 23 starts). The Rays, then, will probably try to limit Wacha’s exposure if they do use him.
One other consideration worth keeping in mind is the status of Matt Wisler. He’s been dealing with a finger injury that could impact his availability and effectiveness.
To sum up things:
- Unavailable (1): Robertson
- Injury concern (1): Wisler
- Fresh (2): McHugh, Wacha
The Red Sox received five innings from starter Nathan Eovaldi on Sunday, making manager Alex Cora’s job easier than his counterpart’s.
Cora took a different approach than Cash did late in the game by enlisting Nick Pivetta for the final four innings. That decision will leave Pivetta on the sidelines in Game 4, but it also means that no other Red Sox reliever threw as many as 20 pitches on Sunday — and that four of Boston’s arms went without throwing a single pitch:
One consideration not captured in the table above is that Houck threw more than 60 pitches as part of the Red Sox’s Game 2 victory on Friday. It seems unlikely that Cora would have him pitch in Game 4, meaning the Red Sox would likely turn to Pérez instead if they need length of any kind in support of Rodríguez.
Oh, and by the way, Cora said that Robles vomited after departing the game on Sunday. It’s unclear if his status for Game 4 will be impacted, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
- Unavailable (2): Pivetta, Houck
- Illness concerns (1): Robles
- Fresh (3): Ottavino, Barnes, Pérez