Series Preview: Rays v Blue Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t have a fun end to their weekend in the Bronx, dropping the last two games of the season series and making it unlikely the Rays could catch the Yankees in the Eastern American League.

The Rays and Seattle Mariners tie for the best wild card spot and lead 0.5 games over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Baltimore Orioles fell 5.5 games off their pace as the only team with a real outside chance of earning a Card spot. FanGraphs give Orioles a 1.6% chance to grab a wild card.

The Blue Jays and Rays have a big five-game streak over the next four days, and they’ll play four more times next weekend at Tropicana Field. The result will have a significant effect on the scattering of the three unruly leaves. The Rays have a 6-4 head-to-head lead over the Blue Jays, so they must go 4-5 to hold the tiebreaker. Rays held the tie-cutter above the sailors.

a program:

Monday 7:07 pm: Cooper Cresswell vs Jose Berrios
Tuesday 1:07 pm: Jeffrey Springs vs Alec Manoah game*
Tuesday 7:07 pm: To be announced later
Wednesday 7:07 pm: Drew Rasmussen vs Ross Streibling
Thursday 3:07 pm: Shane McClanahan vs. Kevin Gossman

* Jeffrey Springs and Alec Manoah are scheduled to start a game on Tuesday but are not confined to the first game. They can face each other in the second match or face other TBA teams.

Shane McClanahan is eligible to return from the injured list on Thursday. Unless something happens between now and the start of the game, it is expected to activate.

Jose Berrios did not turn up the season the Blue Jays expected when they traded for him last July and then signed him for seven years during spring training. Berrios scored a 5.23 ERA/4.77 FIP/4.12 xFIP in a season where the league average is 4.00 ERA. His strike rate has dropped to 20.0% from his mid-20s. You did well at setting your walking percentage to 5.7% but it didn’t make up for the drop in strikes. Berrios throws a fast four-stack ball of 93.9 mph, a curveball of 82.9 mph, and a change of 84.6 mph. Curved ball is his go-to.

Alec Manoah had an impressive first full season in the majors. It has rolled out 2.42 ERA / 3.30 FIP / 3.89 xFIP on 171.0 runs and is under discussion for American League Cy Young. Neither the Elite Strike Rate (23.0%) nor the Walk Rate (6.0%) en route to the Elite results, but they are above average. The Manoah throws a fastball at 94.0 mph in four stitches, slides 81.6 mph, and shifts 86.7 mph. So he doesn’t have much speed to man with the results he got. The slider and his fastball are good at getting slicks but both don’t swing or miss on their own.

Ross Streibling had a rebound season after the 2020-2021 sub-seasons. He has deployed 3.03 ERA/3.09 FIP/3.57 xFIP across 113.0 roles split between Bullpen and starting role. He has an average strike rate (21.8%) but avoids walking (4.2%) at a rate well above average. The biggest improvement this year is 0.8 HR/9 after posting rates above 2.0 in the past two seasons. Stripling is a cunning right-handed bowler who throws a fastball at 91.9 mph in four stitches, change of 82.4 mph, and slider 87.0 mph as his three base pitches. It will mix into a 76.0 mph curve ball. The slider rarely throws against left-handed hitters. Changing it is the only pitch that gets an above average swing and fail rate.

Kevin Gausman was one of our top picks last winter. He posted 3.31 ERA / 2.29 FIP / 2.78 xFIP on 152.1 rounds. He recorded a strike rate of 28.2% while his gait rate fell to 3.8%. Gausman throws a four-stitch fastball at 94.9 mph and an 85.2 mph change with a separate finger as his two base pitches. Against the right racket a slider would add 84.2 mph. Its inhalation rate of 44.5% is obscene. Hitters took the most damage to his four-stitch fastball as he posted .376 wOBA against the field compared to .221 wOBA for his split finger change.

Blue Jays have a powerful attack.

Blue Jays hit .262/.327/.428 and put out 116 wRC+. They have the second highest offense in the MLS behind only the Yankees.

The Blue Jays rolled out these offensive numbers without the elite bat getting in the way. They are a deep lineup of above average hitters. Alejandro Kirk (138 wRC+), Vladimir Guerrero Jr (134 wRC+), George Springer (127 wRC+), Teoscar Hernandez (127 wRC+), Bo Bichette (126 wRC+), Matt Chapman (120 wRC+) have had seasons Very good and combine to provide a basis for the commission of a high-grade crime.

Jackie Bradley Jr (40 GPs+) and Wyatt Merifield (34 GPs+) were lackluster additions to the trade deadline.