Opposite Dugout: Skidding Rays hoping to get back to .500

rays-logo.jpgManager: Kevin Cash (4th season)

Record: 28-30

Last 10 games: 5-5

Who to watch: 1B C.J. Cron (12 HR, 32 RBIs), SS Daniel Robertson (.272), C Wilson Ramos (.301 with 7 HR, 29 RBIs), 3B Matt Duffy (.308), RHP Sergio Romo (5.96 ERA), RHP Ryne Stanek (3.97 ERA)

Season series vs. Nationals: First meeting (2-1 in 2015)

Pitching probables:

June 5: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-0) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (9-1), 7:05 p.m., MASN2
June 6: TBA vs. RHP Tanner Roark (2-6), 1:05 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Rays:

The Rays used their first-round selection in Monday's First-Year Player Draft to select prep left-hander Matthew Liberatore after he fell to the 16th pick, allowing them to snag the top pitcher on their board. Back in the the big leagues, Tampa Bay comes to D.C. for interleague action on a four-game losing streak, and a sweep would get them back to .500. The Rays continue to shed salary that ranked them 28th in the majors as of opening day as they attempt to maintain financial flexibility and rebuild for the future. Tampa Bay last week shipped Denard Span and closer Alex Colomé to the Mariners for two pitching prospects, and that likely won't be the Rays' last deal this season.

Third baseman Matt Duffy has been on a tear of late, raising his average to .308. Duffy went 3-for-5 with a game-tying RBI single in an extra-inning loss to the Mariners on Friday. First baseman C.J. Cron left Sunday's game with a right forearm contusion after being hit by a Félix Hernândez pitch. A prolonged absence would be costly, as Cron leads the Rays in homers with 12 and RBIs with 32. Former National Wilson Ramos has recovered from a second ACL tear and will return to D.C. with a .301 average, seven homers and 29 RBIs. Second baseman Joey Wendle has cooled off after a sizzling start to his first season with Tampa Bay, but still boasts a .283 average and 14 RBIs.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will be getting the nod Tuesday against the Nationals in his second start since August 2016. In his season debut on May 30, Eovaldi threw six hitless innings against the A's in his first start since Tommy John surgery in 2016. Eovaldi is 2-4 with a 5.12 ERA in nine career starts against Washington. Wednesday's Rays starter has yet to be announced, which means there is a chance that Tampa Bay might use one of its "openers" - relievers Sergio Romo or Ryne Stanek are the likeliest options - for an inning or so, then go with a pitcher who can throw multiple innings and before returning to the bullpen to close out the game.

New closer José Alvarado blew a save opportunity Sunday in a loss to the Mariners, and it's unclear whether he'll be a permanent replacement for Colomé.

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