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Game #150 Preview: Ray vs Baz

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Blue Jays (84-65) vs Rays (92-58)

Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Blue Jays will look to take their momentum down to the Little Trop of Horrors where the first place Rays await for a three game series. The first game gets underway this evening at 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Cy Young hopeful Robbie Ray heads to the mound, making his 30th start of the season. Ray’s chances got a bit better yesterday after Cleveland thumped his biggest competitor Gerrit Cole, but Ray still has to finish strong if he wants the award. He’s currently sitting with a 12-5 record and a 2.64 ERA. Ray currently leads the AL in ERA, WHIP (1.009) while also leading all of Major League baseball in strikeouts with 233.

Ray faced the Rays his last time out, going 7 strong innings where he allowed 1 run on 4 hits and no walks, striking out 13. That start fit right in with the rest of his season against the Rays, as in his 5 starts against them this year, Ray is 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA. In 34.0 innings, he has allowed 7 runs on 24 hits and 3 walks, striking out 46.

Rays’ Starter

While the Jays send out a familiar foe, the Rays will be sending out a top prospect making his Major League debut. Highly regarded 22 year old Shane Baz will be added to the roster to make this start, bringing the credentials of the 20th ranked prospect by MLB. He had a great season this year in the Minors, working his way up from AA to AAA, pitching in 17 starts total. He went 5-4 with a 2.06 ERA across 78.2 innings, striking out 113 batters against just 13 walks.

The third and final piece of the terrible Chris Archer trade (which also got the Rays Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow), Baz has really great upside thanks to a powerful fastball. His fastball can hit triple digits, and he will balance it with a good changeup and slider, a lot of the times depending on which side of the plate the batter is hitting from. He’ll also mix in a curveball occasionally, but don’t expect to see that one too often tonight.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

George Springer went hitless over the weekend, and is hitting just .177/.282/.274 since coming back from the Injured List at the end of August. His struggles at the plate are being masked by an otherwise hot lineup in that timeframe, but the Jays need Springer to get healthy and get going. If he needs a few days off to rest up, I would be in favour of it.

With Ray on the mound for the Jays, that means that Alejandro Kirk will catch for him. Kirk has been Ray’s go-to catcher since the end of July, and Ray has been especially dominant since then.

As the Jays have faced a long string of righties lately, Corey Dickerson and Randal Grichuk seem to have flipped back and forth between starting in CF. Dickerson started there yesterday, so perhaps we see Grichuk out there today.

Rays’ Lineup

Since we last saw the Rays, they have had a couple players miss time. Kevin Kiermaier was on the COVID IL for one day (Saturday) but was activated yesterday. Taylor Walls has been out with an “illness” for the last two games. And Nelson Cruz missed Friday and Saturday’s games after taking a pitch off his arm last Thursday, but he was back in lineup yesterday.

Wander Franco is still on the IL, but has progressed to running first to third. I doubt we see him this week, but he should be back in time for the Rays to play the Yankees in the final series of the season.

The lefty Ray on the mound means that the Rays will stack the lineup with as many righties as they can, and that means Ji-Man Choi, Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle and Kevin Kiermaier are all potentially out of the lineup. Likely one of them stays though, as outside of the catcher position, the Rays only have Yandy Díaz, Jordan Luplow and Manuel Margot to take their places as righty bats.

Yesterday’s Heroes

José Ramírez went 4-4 with a home run and a walk, scoring 4 times and driving in 3 to pick up the Monster Bat. He was a big part of Cleveland’s thumping of the Yankees, beating them and Gerrit Cole 11-1.

Hoy Jun Park hit a huge 2-run home run in the top of the 9th, giving his Pirates the 4-3 lead. However, it would be a short-lived lead, as they lost the lead in the bottom half, and lost the game in the 10th. But Park, for his efforts, gets the WPA King award with a .664 WPA on the day. The Marlins beat the Pirates 6-5.

Max Fried went 7 shutout innings, and unlike the other two pitchers who also went 7 shutout innings, Fried walked just 1 batter, and gets the Pitcher of the Day award because of it. He also allowed 3 hits while striking out 5, and took home the win as his Braves beat the Giants 3-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Nelson Cruz and Frank Catalanotto.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant