Tsutsugo, who struggled during his first season stateside in 2020 after a successful career in Japan, is a player who's likely to be scrutinized heavily in spring training, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
After inking a two-year, $12 million contract that also set back the Rays an additional $2.4 million in the form of a posting fee, the Japanese import limped to a .197/.314/.395 line across 184 plate appearances (51 games) during the abbreviated 2020 campaign. Tsutsugo particularly struggled with adjusting to the velocity of MLB arms, seeing his strikeout rate bump up to 27.0 percent after he'd checked in with sub-20.0 percent figures in two of his last three seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball overseas. Tsutsugo did generate an impressive 14.1 percent walk rate and nearly half (14) of his 31 hits went for extra bases, so it wasn't necessarily a year altogether devoid of positives. Nevertheless, Tsutsugo now finds himself entering a contract year, and if he isn't able to muster appreciably better results over the course of what is expected to be a full 162-game season, it appears likely his time with the Rays will conclude after the coming campaign.
Tsutsugo is out of the lineup Monday for Game 1 of the Rays' American League Divisional Series with the Yankees, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
Even with a right-hander (Gerrit Cole) on the bump for the Yankees, the lefty-swinging Tsutsugo will be relegated to a bench role while Yandy Diaz assumes designated hitter duties. Diaz could end up seeing the majority of his starts at first base or third base during the series, but Tsutsugo may no longer find himself in the large side of a platoon at DH if Austin Meadows (oblique) is deemed ready to rejoin the lineup at any point.
Tsutsugo is out of the lineup Wednesday for Game 2 of the Rays' wild-card series with the Blue Jays, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
Tsutsugo served as the Rays' designated hitter and leadoff man in the team's 3-1 win in Game 1, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout. With a southpaw (Hyun-Jin Ryu) on the mound for Toronto, the lefty-swinging Tsutsugo will cede DH duties to Randy Arozarena in Game 2, while Mike Brosseau checks in as Tampa Bay's table setter.
Tsutsugo went 1-for-3 with a solo home run, a walk and an additional run in a 3-1 win over the Orioles on Saturday.
Tsutsugo got the Rays on the board in the third inning, launching a solo homer to right field. The long ball was his eighth of the season -- tied for second-most on the team. The 28-year-old has been mostly as advertised in his first major-league season, providing a fair amount of power but hitting only .203.
Tsutsugo, who went 2-for-5 with a triple and a run while hitting out of the leadoff spot in Friday's win over the Orioles, is due for more work out of the top of the order in the wake of Austin Meadows' (oblique) placement on the injured list, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
The Japanese slugger has struggled to a .200 average and .314 on-base percentage this season, but perhaps a switch to the top of the order will help garner some momentum for him in the last few games of the season. Tsutsugo's solid effort Friday marked his first multi-hit outing since last Friday against the Red Sox and brought his average back to the Mendoza Line for the first time since that contest as well.
Tsutsugo is not in Wednesday's lineup against the Nationals.
He has started six of the last 10 games and will head to the bench even with righty Austin Voth on the hill for Washington. Tsutsugo is one of a handful of Rays hitters who seemingly play 50 to 75 percent of the time. Austin Meadows will start at designated hitter while Randy Arozarena, Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot start in the outfield from left to right.
Tsutsugo will be on the bench Saturday against Boston, Neil Solondz of the Rays Radio Network reports.
The majority of Tsutsugo's off days this season have come against lefties, but he'll sit against right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in this one despite slugging his seventh home run as part of a 2-for-5 night Friday. Joey Wendle will start at third base, Tsutsugo's most common recent position.
Tsutsugo is not in Thursday's lineup against the Red Sox.
He is hitting .231/.412/.538 with two home runs and more walks (eight) than strikeouts (six) over his last 10 games. Randy Arozarena will get the start at designated hitter while hitting second with lefty Mike Kickham on the mound for Boston.
Tsutsugo went 2-for-2 with two walks, a solo home run and an additional run scored in Friday's win over the Marlins.
Tsutsugo got off to a slow start to begin his big-league career, but he has come on strong over the past couple weeks. In fact, he has an OPS north of 1.000 over his last 15 games, collecting two doubles, four homers and more walks (11) than strikeouts (10) in that span. Overall, Tsutsugo is slashing .209/.342/.440 as the Rays' primary DH against right-handed pitching.
Tsutsugo isn't starting Wednesday against the Yankees.
Tsutsugo went 0-for-3 with one strikeout Tuesday, and he'll take a seat for the third time in the past five games. Austin Meadows will rest his legs as the designated hitter with Randy Arozarena starting in left field.
Tsutsugo is not in the lineup Monday against the Yankees, Neil Solondz of the Rays Radio Network reports.
Tsutsugo hits the bench for the second time in the last three games. He's hitting just .188 through his first 28 major-league games, though his overall .188/.320/.400 slash line is good for a respectable 101 wRC+. Randy Arozarena will be the designated hitter in his absence.
Tsutsugo went 2-for-4 with a double, a two-run home run, a walk and an additional run scored in a win over the Marlins on Sunday.
The Japanese slugger gave the prolific Rays offense an early jolt with a 407-foot shot to right in the first inning with Yandy Diaz aboard to extend the Rays' lead to 3-0 at the time. The successful day at the plate was a particularly welcome sight for Tsutsugo's fantasy managers, who've seen him mostly scuffle in his first season of exposure to MLB arms. Tsutsugo's average has only been at or above the Mendoza Line a total of two days in August entering the last game of the month Monday, with his five homers and 17 RBI on the season about the only redeeming fantasy qualities he's been able to offer.
Tsutsugo is not in the starting lineup against the Marlins on Saturday, Neil Solondz of the Rays Radio Network reports.
Tsutsugo will be sitting for the second time in three games as Austin Meadows will start Saturday's game as the designated hitter and Brandon Lowe will shift over to left field.
Tsutsugo isn't starting Thursday against the Orioles.
Tsutsugo will take a breather Thursday as left-hander John Means starts for Baltimore. Jose Martinez will start as the designated hitter in his place.
Tsutsugo went 1-for-1 with a solo home run, three walks and two runs scored in Monday's loss to the Blue Jays.
Tsutsugo handed his club an early lead by clubbing a solo home run in the bottom of the second, and he showed excellent discipline at the plate by walking three times later on. The 28-year-old outfielder is slashing .178/.299/.370 with four home runs and 15 RBI over 24 contests this season.
Tsutsugo is out of the lineup for Thursday's game against the Yankees, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
Rays manager Kevin Cash will withhold several of his lefty-hitting regulars from the starting nine in the series finale while southpaw James Paxton takes the hill for the Yankees. Jose Martinez will serve as the Rays' designated hitter and will bat fourth while Tsutsugo rests.
Tsutsugo isn't in the lineup Wednesday against the Yankees.
Tsutsugo will sit for the second time in the past four games even with a right-hander (Gerrit Cole) on the mound for the Yankees. Jose Martinez will serve as the designated hitter.
Tsutsugo went 2-for-3 with a double and a three-run homer in Sunday's 7-5 win over the Blue Jays.
The Rays offense was pretty silent for the first three innings before Tsutsugo gave them the lead with his fourth-inning blast. The 28-year-old lefty has three long balls and a .715 OPS in his first MLB season.
Tsutsugo isn't in the lineup Saturday against the Blue Jays.
Even with right-hander Chase Anderson on the mound for the Blue Jays, Tsutsugo will take a seat Saturday. Brandon Lowe will take over as the designated hitter with Mike Brosseau starting at second base and batting fifth.
Tsutsugo went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run in Wednesday's 9-5 win over the Red Sox.
Tsutsugo homered Opening Day but then went 14 games without a long ball, with only one double in that span. There are some encouraging signs, including a very low chase rate, but Tsutsugo has fallen in the lineup and will have to swing his way back up the batting order versus right-handed pitching.
|Last 7 Games|
|10/23||vs LAD||L 2-6||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|10/14||@ HOU||L 3-4||4||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|10/07||@ NYY||W 8-4||5||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|10/06||vs NYY||W 7-5||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|09/29||vs TOR||W 3-1||2||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|09/27||vs PHI||W 5-0||5||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|09/26||vs PHI||W 4-3||1||0||1||0||1||3||0|
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