The Blue Jays welcome the Rays to town tonight to kick off the final home series of the regular season. Tampa Bay sits at 75-78 which is good enough for fourth in the AL East ahead of the Red Sox, which is a pretty fair position in the standings for the club. They've been a really good team during stretches this year, but they've lacked the depth to really pull away from anyone resulting in complete mediocrity. Toronto hasn't faced the Rays since before all of the trades at the deadline, meaning this is a very different series than the previous ones which have given Tampa an 8-5 record in the head-to-head matchup. Kevin Kiermaier has led the way for the team in terms of WAR thanks to his terrific defence, along with Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe on the offensive side of things. On the mound, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi have continued to mature into a solid and affordable one-two punch for the Rays.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, the pitching matchup tonight features the aforementioned Odorizzi against R.A. Dickey. Perhaps fortunately for Toronto is the fact that Odorizzi is still struggling to find a way to consistently get right-handed hitters out, which is what the Blue Jays lineup is full of. As mentioned in the home opener preview way back in April, Odorizzi picked up a splitter from Alex Cobb a little while ago and it's become the right-hander's top secondary offering. The problem for Jake being that his cutter took a back seat during the transition phase and no longer is very effective at getting righties out. Now Odorizzi is left with a dominant repertoire against lefties and a daily struggle against right-handed hitters, which goes contrary to almost every other starter you see in baseball.
But Scott, you say, Odorizzi has a 3.38 ERA this year and has hardly had a bad start this whole season. Well, I say, Odorizzi happens to have a .246 BABIP against RHH this season and a FIP of 5.05 against them thanks to some bad walk numbers. The true Odorizzi reverse splits haven't really had a chance to rear their ugly head this season, making the righty look a lot better than he is.
It also helps that teams still throw a bunch of lefties at him despite the wide knowledge that his splitter is his favourite pitch:
Despite all this, Odorizzi still has solid stuff and is capable of putting a dominant game together. You just have to hope the Blue Jays do everything they can to avoid having too many lefties face him tonight. That means, START CHRIS COLABELLO PLEASE!
- Ben Revere LF
- Josh Donaldson 3B
- Jose Bautista RF
- Edwin Encarnacion DH
- Chris Colabello 1B
- Russell Martin C
- Ryan Goins SS
- Kevin Pillar CF
- Darwin Barney 2B