The Tampa Bay Rays are holding steady in their push for the postseason, and the team will turn to one of its steadiest arms as the club opens a pivotal three-game series against the host Texas Rangers in Arlington on Tuesday.
Winners of five straight and 10 of their last 11 games, the Rays will have Ryan Yarbrough on the mound at Globe Life Park.
Yarbrough (11-3, 3.49 ERA) will get the ball as the Rays look to fortify their spot in the American League wild-card race. Tampa Bay currently holds the first position, with slight leads ahead of Oakland and Cleveland.
Yarbrough, 27, has been sharp of late, turning in some of his best work over his last six appearances, five of them starts.
He has posted a 2.25 ERA and held opposing batters to a .195 average, and the team is 5-1 in the games he has worked in August and September.
Yarbrough will be making his first appearance against Texas this season, and he has made just one career appearance, in relief, against the Rangers.
In 2018, he earned a win against Texas but wasn't sharp in doing it. The left-hander allowed five hits and three runs with six strikeouts in his four innings, but the stint was good enough for the victory.
Manager Kevin Cash pulled Yarbrough last month in Seattle with the pitcher just one out from completing a shutout in a masterful outing.
The move was viewed as controversial at the time, but the skipper stuck by his decision.
"Anytime you take a ball from somebody in that situation it's difficult. I think in fairness, though, you've got to stand by the decision and felt that was our best decision to help us win the game at that moment," Cash said.
The Rangers will counter with Lance Lynn (14-10, 3.81), and Texas has won four straight and sits just one game under .500 at 72-73.
Lynn has struggled mightily in his last six starts and will try to rebound and regain some form on Tuesday.
The right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.28 ERA and a hefty 1.49 WHIP in his last six starts, although he allowed just a single run in three of those starts -- with only one disastrous start among them (seven runs and 11 hits allowed in 5 2/3 innings on Aug. 23 at Chicago White Sox).
Lynn beat the Rays 5-0 on June 28 by yielding just three hits and a walk while fanning 10.
Lynn is 1-1 with a 3.49 ERA in four career starts and one relief appearance against the American League East club in his career.
First-year manager Chris Woodward won't see his team make the postseason, but the Rangers manager is encouraged by what he has seen from his team and likes the work he and his staff have put in in their first season in Texas.
"I've enjoyed the difficulty of trying to create a new culture, setting a new culture, bringing a whole list of new processes and ideas. I enjoy the idea of leading an organization," Woodward said.
"Not because I love the spotlight or love being on the top; I just feel there is a better way of doing things, better way of treating people and collaborating with people around me.
"If we finish over .500, it would surprise people, but I want to create a culture of winning in that locker room."
--Field Level Media