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Game #146 Preview: Wacha vs Ray

Rays (90-55) vs Blue Jays (81-64)

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Blue Jays wrap up their series against the Rays, fighting to win the series in the rubber match. Today’s game is an early one, getting underway at 3:07 ET. (Not 1:07 - that was once again 1:07 Erik’s time)

Blue Jays’ Starter

Cy Young contender Robbie Ray will get the ball for the Jays, looking to bounce back from a rare rough outing his last time out. Pitching against the Orioles, Ray matched his season low in innings at 4.1 (also against the Orioles), while allowing 3 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, while giving up 2 home runs. All things considered, he fought really hard to prevent more damage, but he certainly wasn’t his normal dominating self. That start ran his season numbers to an 11-5 record and a 2.69 ERA.

The Rays are a familiar opponent to Ray as well, but he has had some better success against them than he has the Orioles. In four starts against Tampa Bay this year, Ray has made it through 7 innings in three of the starts, and 6 in the other. Through 27 total innings, he has allowed just 6 runs on 17 hits and 3 walks, striking out 33. Two of his most dominant outings of the year have come against the Rays as a part of this, including 7 shutout innings in which he allowed just 1 hit while striking out 11.

Rays’ Starter

Getting the start for the Rays will be veteran right hander Michael Wacha. This will be Wacha’s 21st start and 26th appearance overall after signing as a free agent back in December. It’s probably fair to say that things haven’t panned out as well as they all hoped, as Wacha comes into play with a 3-4 record and a 5.37 ERA. His biggest culprit has been the home runs allowed, as his 1.87 HR/9 rate falls just outside of the top ten among the 116 pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings in the Majors this year.

Wacha has faced the Jays just once this year, in late May as he made his first start back from a stint on the injured list with a hamstring strain. He was meant to serve as just the opener in that one, and made it through 2.0 very strong innings. He allowed a two out single to Gurriel in the second, but otherwise didn’t allow a baserunner while getting a strikeout.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

It was a rough night for the offense yesterday, as pretty much everyone struggled as the team was shut out on just three hits and a walk. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is of important note, as he left runners on multiple times, and saw his on base streak end at 25 games. He last failed to reach base back on August 18, the last game of the series in Washington. He’s still hitting .315/.404/.607 though.

Breyvic Valera, who has earned a lot of playing time recently, has had a very strong week. Over his last 5 games, he is 6-15 with a pair of doubles and 8 RBI, as he is giving the third base position the first positive offensive contributions since Santiago Espinal went down with an injury 3 weeks ago, although even he was having a bad August. The Jays need either Valera to step up, or Espinal (or Biggio) to come back and take the position back with force. Since the beginning of August, Blue Jays’ third basemen are hitting just .229/.311/.329, with just 3 home runs. Their 77 wRC+ in that span is the 7th worst in baseball from that position (the Yankees are last at a laughable 36).

With the righty Wacha on the mound, don’t be surprised to see Corey Dickerson in CF again. That move doesn’t seem to be hurting the team on defense, but Dickerson’s bat has been fairly cold all month, as he is just 4-25 in August with one walk and one double. Expect to see more starts from Randal Grichuk in CF against righties going forward.

Rays’ Lineup

The Jays’ pitchers have been able to keep them down quite well this series, holding them to just a trio of solo home runs over the two games. That’s a good accomplishment against the Major League scoring leaders.

With the lefty Ray going for the Jays, expect to see a fairly right handed heavy lineup. That means we won’t likely see Joey Wendle, Kevin Kiermaier, Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe could all find themselves on the bench today.

Taylor Walls had the night off last night, but expect to see him back in the lineup at SS today.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Ryan Jeffers went 3-3 with a home run and a double, driving in 4 runs to pick up the Monster Bat award. He got into only one game of the Twins’ double header, but he helped them win that one 6-3, but they lost the other one 3-1 against the Future Guardians.

Javier Báez hit a huge game tying home run in the bottom of the 9th, forcing extra innings. The Mets weren’t able to come through though, losing 7-6 in 11 innings to the Cardinals. But for Báez’s part, he gets the WPA King trophy with a .651 mark.

Jordan Lyles threw 7 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 7 and earning the Pitcher of the Day award. He also got the win as his Rangers beat the Astros 8-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Kevin Kiermaier and Elvio Jiménez.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant