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Series Preview: Blue Jays drive 45 min to play the Rays

Glasnow takes the hill for Game 1.

Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays return home after a very successful 5-1 road trip that included a sweep of the New York Yankees. The Rays will take on the Toronto Blue Jays in their first matchup since the Rays beat them in the first round of playoffs.

The Blue Jays made some splashes this winter signing George Springer, Marcus Semien, and Kirby Yates in free agency; however, Yates is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Springer has yet to make his Blue Jays debut after suffering strains to his oblique and quadriceps.

Springer is scheduled to play in an intrasquad game today and could join the Blue Jays this weekend. Semien has gotten off to a cold start.


Friday 7:10 PM: Steven Matz vs Tyler Glasnow
Saturday 6:10 PM: Robbie Ray vs Ryan Yarbrough
Sunday 1:10 PM: Hyun Jin Ryu vs Josh Fleming

The former New York Mets stalwart Steven Matz has gotten off to a hot start with Toronto. He’s posted a 1.47 ERA/2.99 FIP/3.59 xFIP over 18.1 innings. He’s allowed one run in each of his three starts and gone six plus innings each time out. The left hander throws a mid 90s sinker nearly half the time, and a mid 80s changeup is his second most used pitch. He throws both a curveball and slider as his breaking balls with both being used against left handed batters but limits his slider usage against right handed bats.

Robbie Ray was quickly signed this winter after the Blue Jays traded for him last summer, and at a surprisingly expensive rate. So far he has limited runs with a 1.80 ERA but the 5.90 FIP and 6.15 xFIP would suggest he’s been lucky in his first two starts. Control has never been something that Ray has commanded, with a career 11.1% walk rate but that has exploded to 20.5% early in the season. The strikeouts have disappeared with a 13.6% strikeout rate in 2021 despite a 28.4% career rate. When Ray is right he’s effectively wild, but so far he’s just been wild. His fastball has found a tick up to 94.9 mph this year. He will split his secondary pitch usage between slider and curveballs. He will throw an occasional changeup exclusively to right handed batters.

Hyun Jin Ryu has been very good when he’s been healthy. He has a 2.96 ERA/3.30 FIP/3.41 xFIP over 831.1 MLB innings. Injuries have caused him to miss significant time since coming over from South Korea in 2013. His 2021 numbers are just as good as they have always been with a 3.00 ERA/3.22 FIP/3.25 xFIP. His walk rate has dropped significantly from a career 5.4% rate to 2.1% in 2021 in the early going while his strikeout rate has stayed pretty consistent at 21.9% versus a career 22.3% strikeout rate. Ryu uses three pitches equally as his primary pitch with a 90 mph four-seam fastball, 85 mph cutter, and 79 mph changeup. He pitches backwards to right handers using his changeup as his most used pitch.

Yesterday Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times announced that they optioned Chris Mazza without an announced corresponding move. The Rays could look to add a right handed bat like Kevin Padlo or Taylor Walls as they face three straight lefties in this series and two of the first three against the Oakland Athletics. The off day reset the bullpen and gives the Rays the flexibility to add another position player if they so desire.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Blue Jays offense off to a slow start.

As a team the Blue Jays have hit .228/.301/.369 and put up a 89 wRC+ this year that ranks in the bottom ten in both OPS and wRC+. This is an offense that is looking forward to adding a bat like George Springer’s as soon as possible.

After two mediocre seasons for the one time top prospect in the game Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has broken out. He’s hitting a scalding .383/.513/.650 and putting up a 225 wRC+ early in the season. Bo Bitchette (145 wRC+) and Randal Grichuk (129 wRC+) have provided help as the only other batters above 100 wRC+.

Marcus Semien (75 wRC+), Cavan Biggio (72 wRC+), Teoscar Hernandez (39 wRC+), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (22 wRC+), Rowdy Tellez (16 wRC+), and Danny Jansen (-25 wRC+) have gotten off to very slow starts.

The Blue Jays offense should be better. Let’s just hope they wait until after this weekend until they kick things into gear.

Rays look for third straight series victory.

The Rays enjoyed their only off day during a 30 games in 31 days stretch yesterday. Their next off day comes on May 10. This is their most taxing part of the schedule, and it’s not an easy start.

After leaving a disappointing taste in home fans mouths after losing three of four to the Texas Ranger the Rays fans look to have more cheer for against a division rival as they look to chase down the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox lead is currently 1.5 games.