The Tampa Bay Rays have gotten off to a rotten start to the second half. The trade deadline will come this evening at 6 PM before the Rays start their final 60 games.
The wild card race looks like it has come down to seven teams (or eight if you count the American League Central race that is up for grabs between the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Guardians, and Chicago White Sox). The Blue Jays hold the top spot 3.0 games up on the Rays and Seattle Mariners who are tied for the second and third spots. The Guardians trail by 1.0 game while the Baltimore Orioles (2.5 games back), Boston Red Sox (3.0 games back), and White Sox (3.0 games back) remain in the race.
Tuesday 7:10 PM: Kevin Gausman vs Drew Rasmussen
Wednesday 12:10 PM: Yusei Kikuchi vs Ryan Yarbrough
Kevin Gausman has continued his breakout as he headed north of the border. Gausman has put up a 3.30 ERA/2.06 FIP/2.76 xFIP over 103.2 innings. He’s posted a 27.9% strikeout rate and 4.3% walk rate. The biggest surprise has been his ability to keep the ball inside the park. Last year he posted a 0.94 HR/9 and was the first time he posted a HR/9 lower than 1.21 since 2014. This year that’s fallen to 0.52. Gausman primarily works off a 95.0 mph four-seam fastball and 85.2 mph split finger changeup. He will add an 84.1 mph slider almost entirely to right-handed batters.
While the Gausman signing has worked out well for the Blue Jays the Yusei Kikuchi has not gotten off to the best start. He’s put up a 4.89 ERA/5.70 FIP/4.42 xFIP over 70.0 innings. Kikuchi has posted a career high 25.2% strikeout rate but that has come with a career high 13.4% walk rate that he hasn’t been able to overcome. He’s also allowed a 1.93 HR/9. Kikichu throws a 94.8 mph four-seam fastball, 86.8 mph slider, and 86.9 mph changeup. He almost never throws a changeup left on left.
The Blue Jays offense has started to take off.
The Blue Jays have hit .265/.329/.438 and a 114 wRC+. Their 114 wRC+ and 495 runs scored both rank third in the majors behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is having a down season based on his breakout 2021 season, but he’s hitting .283/.359/.499 and putting up a 138 wRC+. He’s still their most dangerous hitter having a very good season.
Alejandro Kirk (145 wRC+), Matt Chapman (125 wRC+), Teoscar Hernandez (123 wRC+), Lourdes Gurriel Jr (122 wRC+), and George Springer (121 wRC+) provide one of the best top two third of their everyday lineup.