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Series Preview: Two day trip to Toronto

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays took care of business during a 5-2 home stand winning series against the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics. The Toronto Blue Jays come back home after a 3-3 road trip against the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners.

The Rays head to Toronto for a short two day stay.

The Matchups:

Tuesday 7:07 PM: Jacob Faria vs Marco Estrada

Wednesday 7:07 PM: Jake Odorizzi vs Francisco Liriano

The regression of Marco Estrada

Marco Estrada has allowed a 4.04 ERA and 3.44 FIP this year. This is flipped compared to his previous seasons in Toronto. The last two years he allowed BABIPs of .216 and .234, but this year it is up to .314. Meanwhile, his strikeouts are up about 5% to 27.6% and his walks are down a couple percent to 6.1%. He has kept left handed bats in check, but right handed bats are hitting .263/.315/.476 and .335 wOBA. In his last start he allowed four runs in 5.2 innings to the Athletics. He has made two starts against the Rays. Each time the Rays put up five runs against Estrada in five and six inning outings.

Francisco Liriano has had an extreme Liriano type season. He’s striking out 22.0% of batters, but his walks are up to 14.3%. He has averaged less than 4.25 innings per outing due to extreme pitch counts. Right handed bats have teed off against Liriano for a .280/.407/.504 and .389 wOBA line. The left handed Liriano has faced the Rays three times this year. In his first start of the year the Rays put up five runs in 0.1 inning. His second start was his best when he allowed one run over five innings. In his third start against the Rays he allowed three runs in 3.2 innings. In his last start he allowed four runs, three earned, in five innings against the Athletics.

Toronto Blue Jays v Seattle Mariners
Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays dabs as he celebrates closing out the game with Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays at Safeco Field on June 10, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Seattle Mariners, 4-2.
Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The Blue Jays bullpen has been a key to their resurgence.

The Blue Jays bring a lot of strikeout pitchers out of the pen. They average a 27.1% strikeout rate. They have posted a 3.79 ERA and 3.72 FIP.

Roberto Osuna continues to lead the pen with a 2.88 ERA, but has a 1.75 FIP. Osuna has a 34.7% strikeout rate and 2.1% walk rate.

Joe Smith has been a very good setup man. He has a 2.64 ERA and 1.74 FIP. He has posted a 38.0% strikeout rate and 5.8% walk rate.

Joe Biagini and Ryan Tepera have provided capable support.

The Blue Jays bullpen will see the biggest help from yesterday’s off day as they used six of their seven arms on Sunday.

The Blue Jays offense is mostly healthy.

The overall line of the offense isn’t great at .243/312/.415 and 93 wRC+. Over the past 30 days the offense has performed much better with a .252/.322/.463 and 110 wRC+ line.

Josh Donaldson is back and leading the offense with a .317/.417/.683 and 189 wRC+ over 96 PA. He has already hit eight homers.

Justin Smoak is having his breakout season. He’s hitting .295/.357/.599 and a 150 wRC+. With 18 homeruns he is just two short of his season high water mark.

Kevin Pillar has cooled off and is sitting at .266/.322/.435 and a 101 wRC+. Over the last 30 days he is hitting .192/.252/.364 and 61 wRC+.

Troy Tulowitzki is struggling. He is hitting .231/.282/.343 and 63 wRC+.

Jose Bautista has awoken from his early season hibernation. Over the last 30 days he is hitting .297/.398/.538 and 151 wRC+ with six homers.

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays
Darwin Barney #18 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates with Jose Bautista #19 as he heads for the dugout following his home run off of pitcher Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning of a game on May 7, 2017 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Rays take a short trip back to the AL East.

The Rays head to Toronto for a two game series against the Blue Jays before heading to Detroit for four against the Tigers. When you face off against divisional opponents the games are more important since you have a chance to pick up a win while piling on a loss to the teams you are most closely competing with for a playoff spot.

The Rays have climbed to third in the American League East. They also are currently tied with the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card.

Everything hasn’t gone perfectly, but the Rays are right where they envisioned themselves during the off season. They are right in the middle of the competition for a playoff spot with less than 100 games to go.

PIcking up a couple wins against the Blue Jays would go a lot way towards getting the Rays where they want to be.