Coming off a heady sweep of the Red Sox, the Rays now get a chance to makeup ground against the AL East leaders. It won't be easy, though. The Jays offense is legit.
Here is an interactive graph of batter-pitcher matchup projectionss for every game of the series. The matchup projections come from a tool I made with Jason Hanselman (Dock of the Rays) that incorporates Bojan Koprivica's research on regressing platoon splits and Steamer projections. The grey line is at an average wOBA of .320.
Thanks to Jason's work, these projections are now park-adjusted. The overall and vs. average L/R pitchers displayed are park-neutral, and the matchup is paced in the park where it will be played.
Erik Bedard vs. Drew Hutchison, 7:07
The emergence of Drew Hutchison as an above average major league pitcher is a big reason the Blue Jays are at the top of the division. The rookie has shown very little split over his young career in terms of wOBA, but his strikeout and walk numbers are significantly better against righties than they are against lefties, so this may be an even better matchup for Matt Joyce and David DeJesus than it seems.
On the other side of the ball, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are Bedard's recurring nightmare. I'm pretty sure I read a David Laurila interview where he said that. I'll try to find the link.
Alex Cobb vs. Mark Buehrle, 7:07
Mark Buehrle, the ageless wonder, doesn't have much of a split, but he is a lefty, which matters to this Rays lineup more than it does to most teams. Expect Brandon Guyer, Logan Forsythe, and Sean Rodriguez all to get their shot. Hope they make something of it, because the Blue Jays' lineup is very good. Even with Alex Cobb doing his thing against the righties, their bats are both strong and deep.
Chris Archer vs. Liam Hendriks, 7:07
Liam Hendriks hasn't pitched a lot of innings in his career, and when he has, they haven't been very good. If the Rays have split the first two games, this matchup gives them a good chance to take the series.