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Game #20 Preview: Ray vs Honeywell/Yarbrough

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Blue Jays (9-10) vs Rays (10-10)

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Blue Jays continue their invasion of Tropicana Field this evening for game two of their three game series against the Rays. Tonight’s start time is an hour earlier than last night, set to get underway at 6:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Robbie Ray will make his third start of the year after coming back from a bruised elbow. He is currently 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA over 10 innings, but his season has been a lot more difficult than that ERA suggests.

In his first start against the Yankees, he made it through 5 innings while allowing 2 runs on 3 hits. But one of the hits was a home run, and he also had to work around 3 walks. His second start was even more of a Houdini act, throwing 5 shutout innings despite 4 hits and 6 walks. And in non-typical Ray fashion, he wasn’t getting out of the tight spots with strikeouts, having struck out only 6 in his 10 innings. He has just been doing a good job limiting hard contact and getting important outs with his fielders.

Rays’ Pitchers

Brent Honeywell Jr. is set to be the opener for the Rays in this, then followed by Ryan Yarbrough. Honeywell, who is finally healthy after so many years of injuries, will be making his third appearance of the season, and third professional appearance since 2017. Through his first 2.1 innings, he has allowed a run on 2 hits and 2 walks, striking out 2 as well. He allowed a home run off the bat of Carlos Santana.

The right handed Honeywell throws a fastball, changeup and cutter, but he also has a screwball up his sleeve to help add to the intrigue. He has thrown the screwball just once this year, but it’s also the hype pitch that everyone is excited to see from him. Honeywell’s fastball sits in the low-mid 90s range, averaging 93.6mph. His changeup averages 85.6mph, and he’ll throw it to both lefties and righties, while his cutter has so far just been to righties.

Following Honeywell after an inning or two is scheduled to be Ryan Yarbrough. Yarbrough will make his second follower appearance of the year, and just fourth of the last two years, as he had seemed to be establishing himself as a normal starting pitcher. However, after getting roughed up by the Red Sox and Rangers, he was in the follower role against the Yankees and held them to just a run on 2 hits over 5 innings. So it’s probably the better suit for him.

On the season, because of those rough starts against the Red Sox and Rangers, Yarbrough is off to a bad start. Across 21.2 innings, he has allowed 16 runs (13 earned) on 25 hits and 4 walks, striking out 15.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Alejandro Kirk will be behind the plate tonight, catching Ray before Danny Jansen gets the start again tomorrow catching Hyun Jin Ryu. Neither are hitting right now, so the important thing with both of them is that they do well catching their pitchers, and they have done a good job with that this season. If either start hitting, we’ll probably start to see some changes to how they’re deployed.

I’m fairly certain we won’t see George Springer today. The Jays’ prized offseason signing played in an exhibition game last night, and the plan seems to be to see how he responds today, then maybe activate him tomorrow.

Teoscar Hernández has rejoined the team after being away with Covid, but will need “some time” to be able to ramp back up to playing level.

After yesterday’s fielding struggles on the left side of the infield, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Santiago Espinal get the start at 3B while Biggio stays in RF.

Rays’ Lineup

With the exception of Randy Arozarena, the Jays’ pitchers did a good job holding down the Rays’ lineup last night. Having three lefties go for the Jays will probably help keep guys like the perpetual pain Austin Meadows and Joey Wendle at bay, but then Arozarena just makes it a bit harder to get through the lineup.

Francisco Mejía got the start at catcher the last couple games, and seems to be taking away the starting job from Mike Zunino. I predicted this back in the year opening preview of the Rays, but I’m surprised it has happened this quickly. Mejía hitting .286/.316/.457 (119 wRC+) with just a 7.7% strikeout rate is probably helping things along, although Zunino is holding his own with .184/.279/.474 (115 wRC+) line. I was hoping this was the kind of competition that would have happened to the Jays’ catchers.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Fernando Tatis Jr. went 3-5 with a pair of home runs off Clayton Kershaw to pick up the Monster Bat award. He helped his Padres take down the Dodgers 6-1, in what will continue to be a great season series to watch.

Raimel Tapia hit a walk off home run accounting for .403 WPA towards his WPA King total of .534, with another big chunk coming from a 7th inning single to continue to drive the Rockies’ comeback. The walkoff gave them the 5-4 win over the Phillies.

Jacob deGrom absolutely dominated yesterday, throwing a complete game, 2-hit shutout to pick up the Pitcher of the Day award. He struck out 15 while walking none, pushing his season totals to 50 strikeouts against 3 walks over just 4 starts and 29 innings. His dominance made easy work for the Mets over the Nationals, as they actually won a game started by deGrom by a score of 6-0 (deGrom was 2-4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored at the plate too).

Find the Link

Find the link between Austin Meadows and Tanyon Sturtze.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant