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Rays Series Preview: Dome Sweet Dome

This will conclude the season series for the Rays and Jays, both of whom would be in the playoffs if the season ended today

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays are scheduled to conclude the season series in a four-game series this weekend at Tropicana Field. The Rays hold a 4-2 lead in the season series, and a split would lock in the head-to-head tie-breaker.

The Blue Jays are 12-11 and sit 3.5 games behind the Rays in the American League East, but they do occupy the second wild card.


Friday 6:40 PM: Matt Shoemaker vs Ryan Yarbrough
Saturday 6:40 PM: Hyun Jin Ryu vs TBA
Sunday 1:10 PM: TBA vs Blake Snell
Monday 3:10 PM: Tanner Roark vs Tyler Glasnow

Tropical Storm Laura looks like it will stay off the west coast of Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico, but it should still bring heavy rains to the area. Fortunately, the Rays play in a dome, so as long as the storm stays off the coast, the games should be able to be played this weekend.

Things can change, so be prepared if you are a local.

Matt Shoemaker has had a disappointing start to the season with a 5.23 ERA and 5.98 FIP thanks to a ridiculous 2.61 HR/9 (27.3% HR/FB rate). He has been effective in his two starts against the Rays, holding them to four runs in 10.0 innings. Shoemaker gets by with moderate strikeouts but limits the big inning by limiting walks.

It’s expected that the TBA for the Rays on Saturday will be Charlie Morton after he’s activated off the Injured List. Interestingly, that would make a rematch of Opening Day starters. The Blue Jays won that round and the Rays will look to reverse that.

Ryu has been everything the Blue Jays could’ve hoped for after making him their big addition to the rotation last winter with a 3.46 ERA/3.75 FIP. On Opening Day, the Rays were held quiet until the fifth where they were able to pick up three runs and chase Ryu before being able to complete five innings.

Next the Blue Jays need to replace Nate Pearson in the rotation after he was put on the Injured List after his last outing. They will likely use some form of opener with an unknown bulk guy.

Tanner Roark has had trouble finding the strike zone this year with a 13.0% walk rate. He’s typically posted above average walk rates, but the extra base runners has led to a 4.76 ERA/5.46 FIP. Last weekend, the Rays scored three runs in 4.0 innings thanks in part to picking up four walks.

MLB: JUL 28 Braves at Rays
Glasnow and Snell take a game in from the blue seats
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rays fans would love to see a return to health from Morton along with a continued run of strong starts from Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow.

No Bo, No Problem

Before the double header last Sunday the Blue Jays put Bo Bichette on the Injured List with an injured knee. He was on fire starting the season hitting .361/.391/.672 and putting up a 184 wRC+. However, he isn’t the only one hitting. The Blue Jays have hit 41 homers in 23 games.

Teoscar Hernandez has mashed eight homers on his way to a .289/.309/.611 line and 142 wRC+. Cavan Biggio adds six homers and a .244/.369/.500 line with a 139 wRC+. Randal Grichuk has hit six homers with a .306/.359/.583 line and 154 wRC+.

Vlad Guerrero Jr. continues to fine at the plate, but not what was expected from the young hitter. He’s hitting .241/.320/.391 and putting up a 97 wRC+.

These aren’t the Blue Jays of yesteryear.

Rays look to lock up the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Rays have won 12 of their last 13 and are one of the hottest teams in the majors, having overtaken the Yankees for first place in the AL East after their mid-week sweep of the division rivals, who had not lost at home previously this season.

In this 12-game run, the offense has carried the team, putting up 80 runs and hitting .297/.374/.548 for a 151 wRC+ including 22 homers. The Rays continue to draw walks, but the power has finally shown up after a sluggish start.

The Rays lead the season series 4-2, and as noted above, a 2-2 series split would be enough to lock in the tiebreaker advantage over Toronto should the division get tight. It’s never easy to win a four-game series, but that’s what the Rays need to keep doing to solidify their strangle hold on a playoff spot with 34 games remaining.

Stay safe.