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Rays reliever Matt Wisler’s finger is bothering him again

Notebook | Team is expected to decide Sunday whether to keep him on the roster or replace him, with Louis Head the top option.
Rays relief pitcher Matt Wisler (37) reacts after Boston's J.D. Martinez connects for a three-run home run in the fifth inning in Game 2 of the ALDS on Friday.
Rays relief pitcher Matt Wisler (37) reacts after Boston's J.D. Martinez connects for a three-run home run in the fifth inning in Game 2 of the ALDS on Friday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 9
Updated Oct. 9

BOSTON — The Rays will decide Sunday on the status of reliever Matt Wisler, who had a rough Friday, pitching poorly in Game 2 of the American League Division Series and feeling a recurrence of the right middle finger inflammation that sidelined him much of the past six weeks.

The team planned further discussions with Wisler after he threw off the bullpen mound at Fenway Park on Saturday, but seemed inclined to keep him on the roster for now.

“Felt it, but not going any deeper than that,” manager Kevin Cash said at a late-afternoon interview at the stadium. “It’s just an issue that he’s going to have. He’s been managing. We’re going to sit and talk to him and see how he can manage it.”

Wisler was an effective weapon for the Rays after being acquired from the Giants in June, compiling a 2-3, 2.15 record in 27 games, while throwing his slider almost exclusively. The slider also is the pitch when he feels the discomfort.

The Rays can request permission to replace Wisler on the 26-man active roster for the series, but he would be ineligible to return for the next round if they advance. Right-hander Louis Head, who was among the 15 players working out in Port Charlotte, is in Boston if needed to be activated.

Rasmussen gets Sunday start

The Rays will stick with their original plan and have Drew Rasmussen start the pivotal Game 3.

As a result of carrying only three traditional starters, the Rays’ choice was whether to start Rasmussen on Sunday and go with a bullpen game ensemble Monday in a potential elimination/clinching game, or the other way around. Using Rasmussen, who has the potential to work at least five innings, first seems to make more sense. Cash made it sound Saturday like there wasn’t much of a decision.

Rasmussen, who moved into the rotation in mid-August, said the chance to make his first postseason start at historic Fenway Park, was twice the fun. “To get the opportunity to do both in the same game, it’s a really neat opportunity,” Rasmussen said. “I’m extremely excited.”

Nasty Nate ready

Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi said Saturday he has “a pretty good plan of attack” for facing the Rays the fifth time this season. “Just keep attacking them,” he said. “Try not to let them have any predictable counts where they’re going to be in control, and keep them out of the game as much as possible.” Eovaldi said another key against the Rays is to control the running game.

The Lowe down

Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) smiles during a press conference before ALDS Game 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) smiles during a press conference before ALDS Game 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Brandon Lowe he doesn’t know — or at least claims that because he doesn’t want to tell — what makes him hit so well at Boston’s Fenway Park. But he has compiled some eye-popping numbers in his first 16 games: a .444 average (24-for-54) with five doubles, six homers and 16 RBIs, and a 1.421 OPS.

“Honestly, I can’t tell you what it is,” Lowe said. “Every time we go there, I don’t know whether it’s the fans that they have that it makes such a good atmosphere or what it is, but I feel comfortable at the plate. There’s a good (batter’s) box there. There’s a good batter’s eye. I see the ball well, and when there’s a wall 300 feet away, it makes it a little bit easier on a lefty, I can get jammed or I can get beat and still kind of fillet one the other way, and hopefully it bangs off that wall.”

Miscellany

⋅ In addition to Head, other players working out in Port Charlotte for potential activation include pitchers Adam Conley, Dietrich Enns, Calvin Faucher, Chris Mazza, Cody Reed, Ryan Sherriff, Colby White; catchers David Freitas and Brett Sullivan; position players Mike Brosseau, Vidal Brujan, Dalton Kelly, Josh Lowe, Taylor Walls.

⋅ Sox manager Alex Cora said right-hander Nick Pivetta was “most likely” going to start Game 4 on Monday, but they wouldn’t make a final decision until after Sunday’s game.

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