The Tampa Bay Rays travel to Atlanta to begin a two-game interleague set with the Braves on Wednesday.
Both teams are on an absolute roll right now as they are both trying to make their first playoff appearance since 2013. The Braves currently have a 3.5 game lead ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East. Although they are nine games over .500, the Rays are still 19.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
This is wild. The #Braves (73-57) and the #Rays (70-61) essentially have the same record. Atlanta is in FIRST place in the NL East by 3.5 games. The #Rays are 19.5 GAMES BACK and in THIRD place in their division (even with winning eight straight games!) AL East is stacked!
— Kelsey Wingert (@KelsWingert) August 28, 2018
High Stakes Series
Even though the division may be out of reach for Tampa Bay, the wild card is still a viable option.
The Rays seemed dead in the water a couple of weeks ago but have roared back into the discussion thanks to an eight-game winning streak. This past weekend they swept the league-leading Boston Red Sox to move 8.5 games back of Oakland for the final wild card spot. Fangraphs.com currently gives Tampa a 0.2% chance of winning a wildcard spot.
The Braves are coming off of a four-game series split with the Miami Marlins. Atlanta has been one of the more surprising teams of the season as they are in the driver’s seat to dethrone the Washington Nationals in the NL East. A good portion of the credit deserves to go to rookie sensation Ronald Acuna Jr. who is in contention for the NL Rookie of The Year Award. The young slugger is hitting .290 with 21 home runs and a .928 OPS.
Who’s on The Mound
Veteran Julio Teheran (9-7, 4.09 ERA) will be on the mound for the Braves, he will be facing Ryne Stanek (2-3, 2.53 ERA) of the Rays.
The Rays will continue their season-long strategy of relying on relievers to start the ballgame. Teheran has had problems with his consistency over the course of the season but he has been on a good streak as of late. The 27-year-old has not given up more than two runs in his last three starts.
First pitch from SunTrust Park is at 7:35 p.m.