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Series Preview: Rays Head to Toronto

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Rays look to pile onto the rough start by the Blue Jays

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

While the Rays are coming off a disappointing series in Baltimore they can comfort themselves with the thought that at least they are not the Blue Jays. The 6 - 16 Blue Jays managed to lose twice yesterday, swept by the Cardinals in a double header.

Injuries have not helped. Currently they have Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Aaron Sanchez, and J.A. Happ on the disabled list. Aaron Sanchez is scheduled to return this weekend, but that’s still leave some very important pieces out of action.

For the Rays, Colby Rasmus should make his debut during this series. Jake Odorizzi will be activated from the disabled list to make a start Monday which will give the Rays an extra arm in the bullpen this weekend. Mallex Smith has been moved off the disabled list. He was optioned to Durham, but he is available if an injury occurs.

The Matchups:

Friday 7:07 PM: Blake Snell vs Marcus Stroman

Saturday 1:07 PM: Matt Andriese vs Francisco Liriano

Sunday 1:07 PM: Chris Archer vs Aaron Sanchez

Blue Jays rotation gets healthy with Aaron Sanchez coming off the DL.

Marcus Stroman has gotten off to a hot start this season. He owns a 3.10 ERA and 2.80 FIP through four starts. Twice this season he has thrown nine innings. He only made it 6.1 innings in his first start against the Rays, but picked up the win by allowing only one run. In the other start he got roughed up for six runs in 4.2 innings by the Red Sox.

Francisco Liriano has a 4.58 ERA and 3.59 FIP, but has pitched really well his last three outings. He has gone at least five innings and allowed two runs or fewer in each outing. His first outing of the season will hurt his season line for a while. The Rays put up five runs and he was only able to record one out.

Aaron Sanchez is scheduled to come off the disabled list to start for the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. A blister has caused him to miss his last two starts. The Orioles put five runs up against him in 5.1 innings in his last start on April 14. In his first start against the Rays he looked really good on his way to allowing one run over seven innings.

Blue Jays Starters vs RHB Last 3+ Years

Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Marcus Stroman 187 19.8 % 4.4 % 0.266 0.304 0.372 0.296
Francisco Liriano 419 24.5 % 11.3 % 0.227 0.321 0.365 0.304
Aaron Sanchez 173.1 20.2 % 5.8 % 0.198 0.251 0.271 0.234

Marcus Stroman is tough on right handed bats. He doesn’t throw a lot out of the zone. When he’s on he’s pitching deep into games and the opposing offense is pounding grounders into the ground.

As Rays fans saw in his first start of the season you’ll get your opportunities against Liriano. He’s wild. If you come up with the big hit you can chase him early while putting up big run totals. If you don’t take advantage of your opportunities Liriano will be facing high pitch totals early in the game, but will be effective enough to limit runs. For a left handed pitcher he hasn’t allowed a lot of damage against right handed bats.

Some of Aaron Sanchez’s absolutely ridiculous numbers against right handed batters come from his time in the bullpen. As a starter he has still been really good. That .073 ISO allowed is elite.

Blue Jays Starters vs LHB Last 3+ Years

Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Marcus Stroman 203.2 19.2 % 7.0 % 0.246 0.303 0.378 0.299
Francisco Liriano 110.2 26.6 % 9.1 % 0.236 0.321 0.36 0.304
Aaron Sanchez 156.1 18.3 % 12.0 % 0.231 0.329 0.387 0.316

Marcus Stroman is split neutral. You’re not going to have a lot of success against Stroman. Stroman has walked more left handed batters.

Francisco Liriano is less wild, but still walks an above average number of left handed batters. He strikes out a couple percent more batters. He doesn’t allow as many extra bases.

Aaron Sanchez has been significantly worse against left handed bats, but he’s still been very good. The walk rate is elevated and the strikeouts aren’t as plentiful.

Roberto Osuna is back, but has allowed runs in four of his six outings.

Roberto Osuna was on the disabled list when the Rays faced the Blue Jays earlier this month. He is back, but he currently owns a 7.50 ERA and 3.14 FIP. He’s blown saves his last two times out. He’s blown three saves. He only blew six last season.

Joe Smith, Joe Biagini, and Dominic Leone have been doing work. All have ERAs below 3.00 and thrown at least ten innings.

Aaron Loup has been good as a LOOGY. He’s walking a lot, but he’s also striking out guys in bunches. He has a 1.35 ERA and 2.52 FIP.

The Blue Jays currently have nine guys in their bullpen until they activate Aaron Sanchez. They will need them. Yesterday the bullpen had to throw 7.1 innings due to a double header and one of the games went 11 innings.

Blue Jays Relievers vs RHB Last 3+ Years

Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Roberto Osuna 75.2 30.4 % 4.9 % 0.185 0.228 0.308 0.230
Joe Smith 111.0 22.2 % 4.3 % 0.207 0.254 0.305 0.248
Danny Barnes 10.2 24.4 % 4.4 % 0.256 0.289 0.341 0.270
Jason Grilli 92.0 29.1 % 7.0 % 0.213 0.272 0.376 0.281
Joe Biagini 50.2 17.7 % 5.4 % 0.238 0.296 0.348 0.283
Ryan Tepera 35.1 17.4 % 4.9 % 0.244 0.292 0.400 0.300
Dominic Leone 73.0 23.8 % 7.5 % 0.248 0.309 0.410 0.307
J.P. Howell 71.0 20.7 % 10.0 % 0.260 0.340 0.379 0.315
Aaron Loup 80.0 22.0 % 10.3 % 0.248 0.335 0.407 0.322

Roberto Osuna and Joe Smith have been elite options against right handed bats.

Jason Grilli and Joe Biagini have been very good. Danny Barnes has been good in a small sample.

Blue Jays Relievers vs LHB Last 3+ Years

Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
J.P. Howell 73 21.9 % 8.2 % 0.236 0.313 0.311 0.281
Danny Barnes 7.2 19.4 % 12.9 % 0.222 0.323 0.296 0.283
Roberto Osuna 74 25.4 % 5.4 % 0.221 0.273 0.413 0.289
Ryan Tepera 26.1 20.4 % 10.6 % 0.177 0.304 0.358 0.29
Aaron Loup 52 22.7 % 4.6 % 0.221 0.303 0.367 0.298
Joe Smith 91.2 21.8 % 8.9 % 0.237 0.323 0.365 0.298
Joe Biagini 32 24.7 % 7.5 % 0.263 0.331 0.354 0.3
Jason Grilli 63 28.7 % 14.5 % 0.231 0.36 0.406 0.336
Dominic Leone 45.2 19.3 % 12.7 % 0.286 0.389 0.453 0.365

J.P. Howell has been good as a LOOGY, the Matt Carpenter walk off grand slam yesterday not withstanding. Aaron LOUP has also been effective.

Roberto Osuna has been good against left handed bats, but they are where you have the best chance to get to him.

The infield offense doesn’t look promising with Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowtizki on the disabled list.

If it weren’t for the disaster that is the Kansas City Royals offense the Blue Jays would have the worst numbers in the league. They are currently hitting .225/.293/.347 and 80 wRC+ on the season.

Josh Donaldson hasn’t played since leaving the game against the Rays with a calf injury in the ninth game of the season yet he still leads the team with 0.6 fWAR.

Kevin Pillar has been a bright spot for the offense. He’s batting .297/.333/.473 and 126 wRC+.

Former Ray Steve Pearce has really struggled out of the gate hitting .163/.212/.163 and 2 wRC+ through 52 PA.

Rays free agent target Jose Bautista has also struggled. He’s hitting .163/.299/.225 and a 54 wRC+.

The Rays pitchers need to take advantage of a struggling and hurt offense.

Blue Jays Batters vs RHP Last 3+ Years

Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA wRC+
Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA wRC+
Jose Bautista 1555 16.1 % 17.4 % 0.252 0.378 0.496 0.874 0.377 141
Steve Pearce 709 9.0 % 21.2 % 0.261 0.340 0.456 0.796 0.348 121
Russell Martin 1219 10.3 % 22.4 % 0.250 0.343 0.434 0.778 0.340 115
Chris Coghlan 1079 10.5 % 20.5 % 0.255 0.338 0.437 0.775 0.335 112
Devon Travis 569 6.5 % 20.2 % 0.282 0.331 0.439 0.770 0.333 108
Kendrys Morales 1125 8.7 % 18.4 % 0.241 0.316 0.432 0.748 0.324 103
Justin Smoak 744 10.6 % 30.1 % 0.213 0.301 0.411 0.712 0.311 95
Kevin Pillar 1053 4.4 % 14.9 % 0.269 0.306 0.390 0.696 0.303 88
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 757 13.3 % 33.8 % 0.201 0.308 0.369 0.677 0.299 87
Ezequiel Carrera 507 6.9 % 22.1 % 0.245 0.306 0.343 0.649 0.287 77
Darwin Barney 424 5.7 % 14.9 % 0.241 0.288 0.346 0.634 0.279 73
Ryan Goins 671 7.3 % 20.3 % 0.227 0.284 0.339 0.622 0.274 69

Jose Bautista at one time was one of the best bats in the league, but hasn’t been the same for the last year. With Donaldson injured he’s still likely the bat you worry about most as a pitcher. Force the others to beat you.

Steve Pearce and Russell Martin have the track record of being good bats against right handed pitchers. They are getting older, but they can still hurt you.

Devon Travis has been quite good when healthy coming into this year. He has struggled to reproduce that production to this point this season.

Blue Jays Batters vs LHP Last 3+ Years

Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA wRC+
Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA wRC+
Jose Bautista 398 16.1 % 15.8 % 0.260 0.382 0.486 0.868 0.375 139
Steve Pearce 353 10.2 % 18.4 % 0.261 0.340 0.516 0.856 0.365 133
Ezequiel Carrera 129 6.2 % 23.3 % 0.328 0.375 0.445 0.820 0.358 126
Russell Martin 355 18.0 % 22.8 % 0.246 0.387 0.393 0.780 0.348 120
Kendrys Morales 625 6.6 % 16.3 % 0.296 0.344 0.454 0.798 0.343 116
Darwin Barney 215 8.4 % 14.9 % 0.297 0.362 0.401 0.763 0.334 112
Devon Travis 177 3.4 % 16.9 % 0.288 0.311 0.441 0.752 0.323 102
Kevin Pillar 378 3.7 % 16.1 % 0.286 0.318 0.406 0.724 0.314 96
Justin Smoak 271 6.6 % 20.7 % 0.235 0.288 0.406 0.694 0.303 92
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 223 8.5 % 34.1 % 0.204 0.274 0.353 0.627 0.277 73
Chris Coghlan 185 11.9 % 19.5 % 0.190 0.297 0.266 0.563 0.264 64
Ryan Goins 185 3.8 % 23.8 % 0.196 0.232 0.280 0.511 0.225 35

Jose Bautista and Steve Pearce are the bats that Blake Snell has to be careful with. Both have a track record of being able to change games in a hurry.

The lineup is deeper against left handed pitchers. Russell Martin and Kendrys Morales are good bats.

They haven’t been hitting like elite bats to this point in the season, but they can break out at any time.

The Rays look to win their first road series of the year.

Things haven’t started the way most Blue Jays fans would have imagined. It really sucks to have next to zero hope for a chance in the playoffs and the calendar hasn’t even flipped to May. That’s what happens when you’re 6-16 and nine games out of first in the division despite having 140 games in the season remaining.

The Rays need to take advantage of the opportunities against wounded teams. They are playing much better than the Blue Jays and need to add some wins to ledger.

The Rays start a stretch of 20 games in a row tonight. They will have an extra guy in the pen for this series. That should help cover some innings from Blake Snell and Matt Andriese without putting them in a bind for the next three weeks.