After a fantastic road trip, the Blue Jays head home to welcome the Rays into town for a three game series. It’s not overly meaningful to say this is a really big series, because every game down the stretch now is an exceptionally meaningful series. Meaningful September baseball is great!
Today’s game is set to get underway at 7:07 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Alek Manoah will go for the Jays, looking to right the ship for the starting rotation, who save for Thomas Hatch making a spot start in the double header, had a bad weekend that was wiped clean thanks to offense. Manoah himself had a strong start his last time out, falling just 1 out short of a quality start. That outing ran his numbers to 5-2 with a 3.71 ERA over 85.0 innings, and he really has been everything the Jays could have hoped for in his rookie campaign.
This will be Manoah’s third start against the Rays, and the first two were two of his most strikeout filled outings. On July 2 in Buffalo, he threw 7 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk, striking out 10. A week later back in Tampa, he wasn’t quite as efficient, throwing 88 pitches over 3.2 innings, where he allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits and 3 walks, striking out 9.
According to Marc Topkin, the Rays will be going with opener Collin McHugh before bulk guy Ryan Yarbrough takes over. For McHugh, it’ll be his 6th opening assignment, as the Rays send one of their best relievers out to face the very strong top of the Jays’ order. Through 55.1 innings this year, McHugh has a 1.46 ERA, and a nearly as strong 2.13 FIP. He is getting a lot of strikeouts (11.22 per 9 innings) while walking pretty much nobody (1.95 per 9 innings), and has managed to keep the ball in the yard at a career best rate (0.49 per 9 innings).
McHugh has faced the Jays four times this year, totaling 7.1 innings. In that time, he has allowed just 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out 11.
Following McHugh is expected to be Jays’ killer Ryan Yarbrough, who will be making his 27th appearance of the season. Through 136.0 innings this year, Yarbrough is 8-4 with a 4.90 ERA. He’s a soft contact controlling machine, which he needs to be as he doesn’t strike out many, but balances it by limiting walks and home runs while letting his great defense play behind him.
Yarbrough has faced the Jays four times this year already, and has been his typical self against the Jays. Through 21.2 innings, he has allowed just 6 runs on 15 hits and 3 walks, striking out 19. However, the Jays have touched him up for 5 home runs this year, one each from Gurriel, Vladdy, Teo, Grichuk and Semien, with only Semien’s coming with a man on base. But those home runs are the only way the Jays have scored against Yarbrough, as he has been impossible for the Jays to string multiple hits against.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
The offense had a hell of a weekend, seemingly setting all kinds of records as they scored 44 runs over the last 3 games. They’ll need to bring that heat home, and for the rest of the season, to keep the excitement of a playoff berth alive.
George Springer got the day off yesterday, and it was probably good for him to avoid that much jogging. It sounded more like a rest day after the double header, so he’ll probably be back in there at DH today.
Teoscar Hernández was beaned twice yesterday, with the one off the knee looking like it might have some lingering effects. Hopefully he’s fine, but don’t be surprised if they give him a day off today.
The catching quandary going forward will be interesting to watch. Alejandro Kirk’s bat is too good to keep on the bench, but Danny Jansen has been on an incredible stretch since coming back from the IL (11-25 with 6 doubles and 3 home runs, 4 walks against just 5 strikeouts). This leaves Reese McGuire without an opportunity, as he has made just 1 start since Jano came back.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is having a September to remember. Through 12 games so far, he is 17-42 with 3 doubles, 2 triples and 5 home runs, scoring 13 runs and driving in an incredible 24. And maybe most impressive of all, he has 8 walks to 6 strikeouts.
The Rays were dealt a big blow last week, as young phenom Wander Franco hit the IL with a hamstring strain. It’s fortunate timing for the Jays, as Franco was pretty much living up to the hype placed on the 20 year old. He’ll be on the shelf for two to three weeks at best, so the Jays will avoid him both this week and next. I would imagine they’re hoping he’ll be back for the ALDS, and could activate him for that regardless.
Taking over at SS is rookie Taylor Walls, who was demoted a couple days before Franco’s injury to try and get his bat going. He’s spent a good portion of the last 2 months in the Minors, but is now likely to be the full time starter at SS the rest of the way. He’s good at taking walks, but otherwise doesn’t give the Rays much production out of the 9th spot.
The Rays probably aren’t too worried about a lack of production out of the 9 hole though, as the lineup they’ll trot out against Manoah is solid and deep. Everyone from 1-7 in the lineup has a wRC+ between 110 and 130 with the Rays, and will be a tough constant threat.
Despite Gurriel’s great day with 2 home runs, 5 runs and 7 RBI, I have to give the Monster Bat award to Francisco Lindor. Lindor went 3-4 with a trio of home runs, all big ones, driving in 5 runs against the Yankees. Thanks to the importance of his home runs, he also gets the WPA King as well, with a .704 mark. And because of Lindor, the Mets beat the Yankees 7-6, allowing the Jays to move a full game ahead of them in the Wild Card Standings.
Max Scherzer had an unforgettable day yesterday, recording his 3000th career strikeout. He also pitched a gem, taking a perfect game into the 8th inning before giving up a double with 1 out. He didn’t allow that run to score, and finished with 8 shutout innings, just that 1 hit and nothing else, while striking out 9 and taking home the Pitcher of the Day award. He also got the win, as his Dodgers beat the Padres 8-0.
Find the Link
Find the link between Ryan Yarbrough and Daniel Palka.