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Rays Series Preview: Buffalo and behold!

The Rays look to fell the Jays near Niagara Falls.

Miami Marlins v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays (12-8) continue their road trip to the Triple-A grounds of Toronto’s minor league affiliate, where Canada’s team (6-9) has made its home just across the border due to our neighbor in the north’s stringent COVID quarantine rules.

Games will be outdoors, with highs in the mid-80’s and lows near 70. The team has made various updates to the field, such as upgrading the grass and dirt to major league specifications and working to expand the clubhouses as all stadiums have, but it will be interesting to see how the lighting holds up in comparison to major league stadiums.

The Rays are the second visitors to the ballpark, following a two-game visit from the Miami Marlins. Both games went into overtime, with the Blue Jays taking game one 5-4, and the Marlins taking game two by a 14-11 margin where the Jays hit an astonishing seven home runs in a loss. Both extras lasted ten innings.

Tampa Bay is, of course, coming off one of the best series in team history...

May the hot bats continue!

Matchups:

Friday 6:37 PM: Trevor Richards vs Tanner Roark
Saturday 6:37 PM: Ryan Yarbrough vs Chase Anderson
Sunday 3:07 PM: Yonny Chirinos vs Matt Shoemaker

Richards makes his first start of the season, stepping in for the injured Charlie Morton after making 26 starts last season across two levels and two franchises, with a 4.06 ERA in the majors. In three games for the Rays this season, Richards has a 5.79 ERA but 2.33 FIP.

Roark hasn’t seen much action this season with only 2 starts in 2020 and 5 earned runs over 8.0 IP, with his most recent outing lasting only three innings thanks to five walks and two longballs at Boston. He hasn’t had an ERA below 4.34 since 2016.

Yarbrough lasted 5.1 IP in his outing earlier this year against Toronto with only five base runners allowed and zero earned runs. Across four starts Yarbrough’s strikeouts have been hot and cold. Interesting in the two games the Rays won with him on the mound he registered only one K in each outing, making it to at least the fifth inning. His two starts the Rays lost had at least five strikeouts.

Anderson has only one start on the season thus far, with 3.0 IP and a home run allowed at Boston. The 32-year old righty has struggled with an oblique injury and previously pitched in the Brewers rotation for four seasons.

Chirinos is slated to start on Sunday after resting from a triceps strain that put him on the injured list. He was two starts into the season with only one earned run allowed on 8.2 IP prior to the injury.

Shoemaker opened his season against the Rays and lasted six innings with only one earned run allowed, with the Rays finding the win against the bullpen once he was lifted. The Jays have not won any of his three starts this season, but his most recent outing saw Shoemaker hold his own, with another six inning performance and only two earned runs.

Other Thoughts

  • The Rays should be happy to miss Hyun-Jin Ryu and Nate Pearson on this series.
  • Toronto’s bullpen has been decent, where Jordan Romano has nine innings and a 0.00 ERA, with the relief core as a whole sporting a respectable 3.72 ERA/3.44 FIP this season with a 27.5% strikeout rate, albeit a rough 12% walk rate.
  • SS Bo Bichette (177 wRC+) is one of the hottest hitters in the game, and is batting in front of 3B Travis Shaw (134 wRC+) and OF Teoscar Hernandez (129 wRC+) on a nightly basis in what is a formidable 2-3-4 in the lineup.
  • The rest of the offense has been relatively underperforming, with only OF Derek Fisher above 100 wRC+ on 15 PA.
  • OF/1B Billy McKinney was optioned to alternate site to make room for Anderson on the Jays roster, so you won’t see him
  • Vlad Guerrero Jr. is splitting his time between 1B and DH, and hits sixth
  • Richards is expected to be able to throw 80 pitches tonight
  • As observed by Neil Solondz, “The Rays bullpen has had several pitchers not throw the past two days in Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo, John Curtiss, Aaron Loup, Chaz Roe and Ryan Thompson, should they use the pen aggressively.”
  • The other DH Rowdy Tellez was sporting a “Homeless” shirt in honor of the Jays playing in New York State, which is a pretty bad look
  • Cash spoke highly of the stadium we’ll see shortly