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Series Preview: Rays vs Blue Jays

Looks like a full weekend of TB vs TOR - Go Bolts!

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays will be traveling to Tampa-St. Pete just as the Tampa Bay Lightning are traveling up to Toronto for a deciding game 7. Let’s hope the Florida Men come out ahead in both cities!

The Rays return home fresh off a 7-3 west coast road trip and enjoyed their first off day in 17 days. The Blue Jays have hit a rough patch, losing four in a row and seven of their last nine.

The red hot New York Yankees remain atop the American League East 4.5 games ahead of the Rays, 6.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays, 9.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles, and 12.0 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox.

Schedule

Friday 7:10 PM: Kevin Gausman vs Drew Rasmussen
Saturday 6:10 PM: Hyun Jin Ryu vs Ryan Yarbrough
Sunday 1:40 PM: Alek Manoah vs Corey Kluber

Kevin Gausman was the big splash the Blue Jays made this winter to replace 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray. Gausman was the number four overall pick by the Orioles in the 2012 MLB draft, but didn’t really establish himself as a top of the rotation arm until he broke out with the San Francisco Giants in 2020. Over his first six starts he’s posted a 2.13 ERA/0.78 FIP/1.97 xFIP over 38.0 innings. He’s posted 46 strikeouts (31.3%) against 1 walk (0.7%). Gausman works off a 94.3 mph four-seam fastball with a 84.7 mph split finger changeup as his primary go to pitch to put away hitters. He will add a 83.5 mph slider against right handed batters.

Hyun Jin Ryu is scheduled to return from the Injured List to make a start against the Rays on Saturday night. He was pulled early from his second start with a forearm strain. Ryu gets a fair amount of strikeouts (21.9%) and doesn’t walk many (5.4%). Despite lack of velocity he owns a career 3.28 ERA/3.44 FIP/3.51 xFIP, but is coming off his worst MLB season. Ryu throws a 89.5 mph four-seam fastball, 72.2 mph curveball, 80.3 mph changeup, and 85.7 mph cutter. With him and Yarbrough on the mound don’t expect the radar gun to hit 90 all evening. The only pitch that gets whiffs is his changeup.

Alek Manoah is off to a great start in 2022. He’s posted a 1.75 ERA/3.26 FIP/3.69 xFIP coming off a very good rookie year. He’s posted a 25.0% strikeout rate and 6.4% walk rate. He’s ran a .222 BABIP so some regression should be expected. Manoah works off a 94.0 mph four-seam fastball. His 80.9 mph slider is his go to secondary pitch and one that gets the majority of his whiffs. He will add in some 92.8 mph sinkers and 86.3 mph changeups to complete his four pitch mix.

The Blue Jays offense has gotten off to a sluggish start.

The Blue Jays are hitting .237/.301/.390 and putting up a 102 wRC+. They have scored a lackluster 3.87 runs per game.

Their stars have led the way. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (153 wRC+) and George Springer (154 wRC+) have been great. They are tied for the team lead with seven homeruns a piece.

The help hasn’t been there. Bo Bichette (91 wRC+), Loudes Gurriel Jr., and Matt Chapman (86 wRC+) haven’t hit well, but more is expected.

Teoscar Hernandez (101 wRC+) just returned from the Injured List but has been limited to 38 plate appearances.

Santiago Espinal (129 wRC+) has been the biggest pleasant surprise.

Bradley Zimmer (-27 wRC+), Raimel Tapia (44 wRC+), and Cavan Biggio (-5 wRC+) have provided very little offensive help.