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Rays Series Preview: The final homestand ends with the Blue Jays

The Rays can right their wrongs from the previous series against their division rival Blue Jays.

Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays
Dustin Knight #76 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after giving up a home run to Martin Maldonado #15 of the Houston Astros in the ninth inning during a baseball game at Tropicana Field on September 21, 2022 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays had a series they would like to forget in being swept by the Houston Astros. Fortunately when it comes to the playoff situation nothing has really changed. The Rays hold the second wild card and FanGraphs gives them a 97.3% of making the playoffs.

The Toronto Blue Jays hold a 2.0 game lead over the Rays and 2.5 game lead over the Seattle Mariners. The Baltimore Orioles are trailing by 4.0 games (6.0 games behind the Rays) and the Chicago White Sox trail by 5.5 games (7.5 games behind the Rays).

So while the Rays have struggled to collect wins over the last two weeks the Orioles and White Sox haven’t been able to take advantage of the opening created by the Rays and Mariners.

The Rays hold a 8-7 lead in the head-to-head season series against the Blue Jays. A split would give the Rays the tie breaker for seeding.

Schedule

Thursday 6:40 PM: Jose Berrios vs JT Chargois (Opener for Ryan Yarbrough)
Friday 7:10 PM: Alek Manoah vs Jeffrey Springs
Saturday 6:10 PM: TBA vs Drew Rasmussen
Sunday 1:10 PM: Ross Stripling vs Shane McClanahan

Jose Berrios has had a mediocre season. He’s posted a 4.99 ERA/4.63 FIP/4.17 xFIP in an environment where the league average has been 4.00. His strikeout rate has plummeted to 19.8% but he has kept his low walk rate of 5.7%. He’s pitched fairly well against the Rays allowing four runs over 11.1 innings and two starts. Berrios pitches off a 94.0 mph four-seam fastball. His main weapon is a 82.9 mph curveball that has gotten fantastic results. Against left handed batters he will add a 84.6 mph changeup and will sprinkle it in against right handed batters at a low frequency.

Alek Manoah has been the Blue Jays best starting pitcher this season. He’s posted a 2.40 ERA/3.43 FIP/4.01 xFIP. He’s done this with a middling 22.7% strikeout rate and 6.4% walk rate. Rays have done well scoring five runs over 12.2 innings this season. Manoah throws a 93.9 mph four-seam fastball up in the zone while using a 93.3 mph sinker down in the zone in order to induce groundballs. His secondary weapon of choice is a 81.5 mph slider. Against left handed batters he adds a 86.6 mph changeup.

Ross Stripling has been one of the most surprising starters in the American League this year. He’s spent his career moving between the bullpen and picking up starts when needded but this year he’s put up a 3.21 ERA/3.21 FIP/3.65 xFIP in 123.1 innings. He gets his fair share of strikeouts with a 21.3% strikeout rate but where he shines is his 4.1% walk rate. Last time against the Rays he allowed one run in 6.1 innings but in his first start the Rays put up four runs without him getting out of the fifth. Stripling throws a four pitch mix. He works off a 91.9 mph four-seam fastball, 82.6 mph changeup, and 87.0 mph slider as his three primary pitches. He will sneak in a 76.1 mph curveball as a get me over pitch early in the count, but is unlikely to use it a chase pitch late in the count.

The Blue Jays possess one of the most potent lineups in the game.

As a team the Blue Jays have hit .262/.327/.428 and put up a 116 wRC+. They are aggressive and looking to put the ball in play for damage starting from pitch one. They don’t utilize the running game that frequently and rely on station to station baseball to score runs.

They don’t have the big bat like the New York Yankees have with Aaron Judge or the Houston Astros have with Yordan Alvarez in the middle of their lineup this season, but they have a deep top of the lineup.

Alejandro Kirk (138 wRC+), Vladimir Guerrero Jr (136 wRC+), Bo Bichette (128 wRC+), George Springer (127 wRC+), Matt Chapman (125 wRC+), and Teoscar Hernandez (120 wRC+) provide a punch in their everyday lineup.

Poll

How many games will the Rays win against the Blue Jays?

  • 4%
    4
    (1 vote)
  • 17%
    3
    (4 votes)
  • 52%
    2
    (12 votes)
  • 21%
    1
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (1 vote)
23 votes total Vote Now