After a great road trip that saw them go 8-2 against some teams they needed to beat, the Blue Jays return home for a massive homestand, starting with a five game set against the Rays. Tonight’s game is the standard 7:07 ET start.
Blue Jays’ Starter
José Berríos will go for the Jays, making his 28th start of the season. Despite what seems like frequent good starts, he just can’t get his ERA down, as he keeps finding a way to mix in some ugly starts as well. So on the season, he is 10-5 with a 5.23 ERA, despite having a 3.33 ERA over his last 4 starts. We keep hoping that those last 4 starts point to a greater trend, and we’ll hope for it again today.
Some how this is just the second time Berríos will face the Rays this year. His other outing came on July 1, when he went 5 innings, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, striking out 2. He wriggled out of a lot of trouble in that game, stranding runners on base every inning. But he was successful, and the team would love more of the same from him today.
The Rays are expected to call up 5 pitchers for today’s game after getting slugged by the Yankees over the weekend, and also in response to other pitchers not being able to enter Canada. One of the callups will be Cooper Criswell, who will be expected to make the start tonight. For Criswell, it’ll be his second start in the Majors, after getting one outing as an Angel last year against the Padres, lasting just 1.1 innings.
Criswell was claimed on waivers from the Angels in mid-July, then designated for assignment by the Rays and was outrighted off the roster a few days later. He stuck around in Durham for the Rays, where he made a few starts and a few long relief outings, pitching to relative success with a 3.95 ERA and a 3.87 FIP in AAA. He has been going 3-4 innings in his outings recently, so don’t be surprised to see someone like Shawn Anderson open for him, with Criswell getting some bulk work before they get back to the bullpen again.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Teoscar Hernández returned from his paternity leave yesterday, and collected a pair of hits, including driving in the Jays’ only run with a double. It’s good to have him back in the lineup, as he has been consistently hitting well since getting back into the swing of things in June.
Teo’s activation meant that Otto Lopez once again was optioned out without getting playing time. He has yet to have a plate appearance in the Majors this season.
Bo Bichette collected just 1 hit yesterday, his second worst game of the road trip. His numbers on that road trip were insane, as he hit .500/.532/1.091 (359 wRC+) over 47 PA. He scored 14 runs and drove in 18, well ahead of second in both of those stats (Springer 8 runs, Kirk 6 RBI). In half of the games in that stretch he had 3+ hits, and he is now hitting .279/.322/.472 (126 wRC+) on the season, with his wRC+ right in line with his career average. He won’t be able to keep carrying the team like this, but hopefully some others (namely Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) will pick up that slack.
The Rays got a couple big bats back off the IL last week, as Brandon Lowe and Wander Franco both rejoined the middle infield. Neither of them have hit to anywhere near expectations this year, as Lowe comes into play with a 105 wRC+, and Franco is just ahead at 107.
The big bats on the Rays this year belong to Yandy Díaz (147 wRC+) and Randy Arozarena (132 wRC+). Former Blue Jay Harold Ramírez is also right there with a 131 wRC+, despite missing a month at the end of July with a broken thumb.
The Rays have three position players currently on the IL, with Mike Zunino and Kevin Kiermaier done for the season. Outfielder Roman Quinn is expected to start a rehab assignment soon.
Rowdy Tellez went 3-5, launching a pair of home runs and hitting a double while driving in 4 runs, earning himself the Monster Bat award. His bat was a very key piece, as his Brewers beat the Reds 7-6.
Robbie Grossman hit a big home run in the top of the 9th, completing the comeback for the Braves, giving them a 7-6 lead after entering the inning down 6-2. However, the Braves couldn’t hold that lead, falling the Mariners 8-7 in the bottom half of the 9th. But for Grossman, his home run gets him the WPA King trophy with a .717 mark, even though his team didn’t pull out the win.
Mitch Keller threw 7 shutout innings, holding the Cardinals to just 2 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6, earning himself the Pitcher of the Day award. He didn’t get the win though, as the Cardinals came back against the Pirates’ bullpen, putting Keller’s effort in the tank as the Pirates fell 4-3.
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Find the link between Yandy Díaz and Art James