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Series Preview: Rays v Blue Jays

Another five game series!

Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t have enjoyable end to their weekend in the Bronx, dropping the final two games in the season series and making it unlikely the Rays can catch the Yankees in the American League East.

The Rays and Seattle Mariners are tied for the top wild card spot and are 0.5 game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Baltimore Orioles have fallen 5.5 games off the pace as the only team that has a real outside chance of getting a wild card spot. FanGraphs gives the Orioles a 1.6% chance of clinching a wild card.

The Blue Jays and Rays have a big five game series over the next four days and will play an additional four times next weekend at Tropicana Field. The outcome will have a big effect on the seeding of the three wild cards. The Rays hold a 6-4 head to head lead over the Blue Jays so need to go 4-5 to hold the tie breaker. The Rays hold the tie breaker over the Mariners.


Monday 7:07 PM: Cooper Criswell vs Jose Berrios
Tuesday 1:07 PM: Jeffrey Springs vs Alek Manoah*
Tuesday 7:07 PM: TBA vs TBA
Wednesday 7:07 PM: Drew Rasmussen vs Ross Stripling
Thursday 3:07 PM: Shane McClanahan vs Kevin Gausman

* Jeffrey Springs and Alek Manoah are scheduled to start one of the games on Tuesday but aren’t locked into game one. They could face off against each other in game two or face off against the other teams TBA.

Shane McClanahan is eligible to return from the Injured List on Thursday. Unless something happens between now and the start of the game he is expected to be activated.

Jose Berrios hasn’t had the season the Blue Jays expected when they traded for him last July and then signed him to a seven year extension during Spring Training. Berrios has posted a 5.23 ERA/4.77 FIP/4.12 xFIP in a season where the league average is a 4.00 ERA. His strikeout rate has fallen to 20.0% from the mid 20s. He has done well to limit his walks to 5.7% but hasn’t made up for the fall in strikeouts. Berrios throws a 93.9 mph four-seam fastball, 82.9 mph curveball, and 84.6 mph changeup. The curveball is his go to strikeout pitch.

Alek Manoah has had a great first full season in the majors. He’s put up a 2.42 ERA/3.30 FIP/3.89 xFIP over 171.0 innings and is in discussion for the American League Cy Young. He hasn’t posted an elite strikeout rate (23.0%) or walk rate (6.0%) on his way to elite results, but they are above average. Manoah throws a 94.0 mph four-seam fastball, 81.6 mph slider, and 86.7 mph changeup. So he doesn’t have big velocity for a guy with the results he’s had. His slider and fastball are good at getting whiffs but neither is an elite swing and miss pitch on their own.

Ross Stripling has had a bounceback season after subpar 2020-2021 seasons. He’s posted a 3.03 ERA/3.09 FIP/3.57 xFIP over 113.0 innings split between the bullpen and a starting role. He has an average strikeout rate (21.8%) but avoids walks (4.2%) at a well above average rate. The biggest improvement he’s seen this year is a 0.8 HR/9 after posting rates above 2.0 the last two seasons. Stripling is a crafty right handed pitcher that throws a 91.9 mph four-seam fastball, 82.4 mph changeup, and 87.0 mph slider as his three primary pitches. He will mix in a 76.0 mph curveball. He will rarely throw the slider against left handed batters. His changeup is the only pitch that gets an above average swing and miss rate.

Kevin Gausman was one of the best free agent pick up last winter. He’s posted a 3.31 ERA/2.29 FIP/2.78 xFIP over 152.1 innings pitched. He’s posted a 28.2% strikeout rate while dropping his walk rate to 3.8%. Gausman throws a 94.9 mph four-seam fastball and 85.2 mph split-finger changeup as his two primary pitches. Against right handed batters he wil add a 84.2 mph slider. His split-finger changeup has an obscene 44.5% whiff rate. Hitters have done most of the damage off his four-seam fastball posting a .376 wOBA against the pitch compared to a .221 wOBA against his split-finger changeup.

The Blue Jays possess a high powered offense.

The Blue Jays are hitting .262/.327/.428 and putting up a 116 wRC+. They have the second highest scoring offense in the American League trailing only the Yankees.

The Blue Jays have put up these offensive numbers without an elite bat carrying the way. They are deep lineup of well above average hitters.

Alejandro Kirk (138 wRC+), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (134 wRC+), George Springer (127 wRC+), Teoscar Hernandez (127 wRC+), Bo Bichette (126 wRC+), and Matt Chapman (120 wRC+) have had very good seasons and combine to provide the basis for a high scoring offense.

The only blemish of late: Jackie Bradley Jr. (40 wRC+) and Whit Merrifield (34 wRC+) have been lackluster additions at the trade deadline.


How many games will the Rays win in Toronto?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    (3 votes)
  • 25%
    (11 votes)
  • 22%
    (10 votes)
  • 36%
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 9%
    (4 votes)
44 votes total Vote Now