The Rays announced their 25-man roster for their best-of-five ALDS showdown against the Astros, which will begin this afternoon when Tyler Glasnow takes the mound against Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander. Tampa Bay has made a handful of changes from the roster they used to win the American League Wild Card Game. Here’s how their revised roster shakes out:
- Nick Anderson
- Diego Castillo
- Yonny Chirinos
- Oliver Drake
- Tyler Glasnow (Game 1 starter)
- Charlie Morton (Game 3 starter)
- Emilio Pagan
- Chaz Roe
The Rays have a few substitutions from Wednesday’s Wild Card roster, swapping out first baseman Jesus Aguilar, infielder/outfielder Daniel Robertson and infielder Mike Brosseau in favor of left-hander/first baseman McKay, infielder Sogard and the right-handed Chirinos. The Astros are stacked with right-handed pitchers and, in fact, are only carrying one lefty (Wade Miley) on their ALDS roster at all, so the Rays have swapped out some right-handed bats for lefties (McKay, Sogard) and additional pitching depth (McKay, Chirinos).
For those unfamiliar, yes, McKay is both a first baseman/DH and a left-handed pitcher. While he hasn’t quite ascended to Shohei Ohtani levels of infamy, the No. 4 overall pick from the 2017 draft enjoyed a remarkable season in the minors this year. In a combined 73 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, McKay pitched to a 1.10 ERA with 12.5 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. On the other side of the ball, he struggled in Double-A before hitting .239/.346/.493 with five homers and a pair of doubles in 78 Triple-A plate appearances. The 23-year-old was primarily a pitcher in the big leagues and had his share of hardships, as evidenced by a 5.14 ERA in 49 innings. But McKay notched a 56-to-16 K/BB ratio and, in 11 plate appearances, went 2-for-10 with a home run and a walk. He’ll give manager Kevin Cash plenty of chances to be creative.
As was the case with their Wild Card roster, the Rays’ ALDS roster is rife with the fruits of their frequent trades. Sixteen of these 25 players were acquired via trade, while Garcia and Morton, who dominated the Athletics in Wednesday’s Wild Card win, were signed as free agents. Anderson, who struck out nearly 42 percent of the hitters he faced this season (including a video-game-esque 52.6 percent with the Rays following a trade over from Miami), is among the game’s most quietly dominant bullpen weapons.
They’ll have a tall order against a ridiculous 1-2-3 combination of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke in the Houston rotation, but the Rays did take four of seven games from the Astros during the regular season (albeit with three wins coming before Houston acquired Greinke).