Tampa Bay right-hander Drew Rasmussen has sizzled in his last five starts, and the Rays will turn to their converted starter in Wednesday evening's series finale against the visiting Miami Marlins in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Already without staff ace Tyler Glasnow after the dominant right-hander hadTommy John surgery last summer, the organization's starting staff took a pair of hits right away in 2022.
Hard-throwing Shane Baz, who debuted last September, had minor elbow surgery on March 21 and made his first rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Durham. Righty Luis Patino, another rotation fireballer, lasted just 13 pitches in his first start on April 11 and left with an oblique injury, a tricky ailment that can set a pitcher back for months.
In their absence, Rasmussen (4-1, 2.33 ERA) has slotted into the No. 2 spot and has been a shutdown starter for manager Kevin Cash, though his longest outing so far is only six innings.
Across his past five showings, the Oregon State alum has won four times without a defeat while posting a 1.01 ERA. He has allowed three runs and 15 hits in 26 2/3 innings pitched, with 25 strikeouts and five walks.
In two career relief appearances against Miami, Rasmussen has no record and has pitched three scoreless, hitless innings. He closed the Milwaukee Brewers' 2-1 win over the Marlins on May 9, 2021, for his only career save.
In Tuesday's opener of the two-game series, the Rays hit three homers, including Kevin Kiermaier's inside-the-parker. Meanwhile, the Marlins managed just five hits as Tampa Bay ace Shane McClanahan struck out nine over six innings in the 4-0 win.
Cash liked the offensive output against Pablo Lopez, who entered the game with a 1.57 ERA but yielded homers to Kiermaier and Harold Ramirez to lead off the first two frames.
"We got two big home runs, and we did it against a really good pitcher," Cash said. "You could argue that (Lopez's) been as good as anyone in baseball. We knew we had our hands full coming in. Guessing they probably felt that way with Shane on the mound."
McClanahan, who leads the majors with 74 strikeouts, became the fourth left-hander since 1901 to record 200 Ks across his first 33 starts, joining Herb Score (1955), Al Downing (1961-64) and Cole Hamels (2006-07).
The result was a shutout by three Rays pitchers, who struck out 10 Miami batters.
"He's got good stuff," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of McClanahan. "He was just better than us tonight."
Garrett Cooper and Jacob Stallings produced two-hit games for the Marlins.
Mattingly said his pitching staff is in a good place as the club gets set for the second contest of an eight-game trip.
"We're in good shape," the Miami skipper said. "Our starters have given us good starts the last two days."
Riding a nine-game hitting streak, Jorge Soler went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a double play. Brian Anderson's 24-game on-base streak ended after an 0-for-4 night.
Right-hander Cody Poteet (0-0, 0.78) will serve as the Marlins' opener Wednesday and make his first career appearance against the Rays.
In 10 appearances in 2022 (one start), the second-year Marlins pitcher has allowed just 12 hits and two runs, with 19 whiffs over 23 innings.
--Field Level Media