The Blue Jays welcome the historically hot Tampa Bay Rays into the Rogers Centre this weekend for a three game set. The first game of that series kicks off tonight, with the first pitch set for 7:07 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
The Blue Jays will turn to José Berríos in an attempt to cool the hottest team in baseball. It’s a bit of a daunting task for Berríos, who enters play today with a 0-2 record and 11.17 ERA. There is some positive there though, somehow, as his FIP on the season is 3.19. He has 12 strikeouts against 3 walks and just 1 home run over his 9.2 innings. His problem so far this year has been getting hit hard, and having those hard hits bunched together. He has had 4 innings this year where he allowed multiple runs, and 7 where he has put up a 0.
If you are looking for hope from Berríos against the Rays for this evening, I do have a little bit of it for you. Despite Berríos’ struggles last year, he was still a decent pitcher when pitching in Toronto. His 4.24 ERA was over 2 runs better at home last year compared to on the road. Against the Rays in his career at Rogers Centre, Berríos has thrown 18.1 innings, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 18 hits and 3 walks with just 1 home run against.
Fireballing right hander Drew Rasmussen will go for the Rays, making his third start of the season. Rasmussen has been lights out to start the season, making it through 13 innings without allowing a run. In that time, he has given up just 3 hits and no walks, striking out 15 of the 42 batters he has faced. He has simply been the most dominant pitcher in the Majors this year.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
The biggest question of the day for the Jays’ lineup will be whether Matt Chapman is healthy and ready to go after being a late scratch to last night’s lineup. The Jays could really use the league’s best hitter to go up against the league’s best pitcher.
Kevin Kiermaier is likely to be back in the lineup in CF for this one, after getting the night off yesterday. He was ready to go with the helmet on his head for the last couple innings, but didn’t make it in. I never thought I’d be upset to see Kevin Kiermaier not be brought in as a pinch hitter before.
Alejandro Kirk has been catching Berríos in his first two outings, and the few outings before that stretching back into last September. He’s probably going to be behind the plate in this one as well.
While the Rays have been getting great pitching this year, it’s the hitting that has been out of this world and really carrying them on their historic run. As a team, they’re hitting .287/.364/.576 (162 wRC+), giving them 7.77 runs per game. To put that batting line into a bit more context, Josh Donaldson in his MVP 2015 season hit .297/.371/.568, giving him the same wOBA as the whole Rays’ team has right now.
The Rays have a few lefties and switch hitters that will likely be in the lineup tonight, likely giving them at least six left handed bats to go up against Berríos. The biggest threat as a natural lefty is Brandon Lowe, who is having an incredible comeback season after being limited to just 65 games last year. Lowe is hitting .333/.463/.818 so far, good enough for the second best wRC+ in baseball at 249.
After a pair of 2.4 WAR half seasons in 2021 and 2022, Wander Franco is poised to have his breakout season, and the 22 year old has certainly gotten off on the right foot. He’s second in the Majors (again behind Chapman) with a 1.1 WAR in the early going, hitting the ball well, playing great defense and swiping a few bases.
Brent Rooker went 2-4 with a home run and 5 RBI yesterday, good enough to pick up the Monster Bat award. Rooker’s big day just wasn’t enough though, as his Athletics fell to the Orioles 8-7.
Joel Payamps pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th inning up by 1 run, which is always a high stakes inning. Thanks to his scoreless outing, he gets the WPA King trophy with a .426 WPA on the day. Payamps got credited with the save as his Brewers beat the Padres 4-3.
The Twins spotted Joe Ryan 9 runs before he even got to the mound, but the young righty took that cushion and went on cruise control. Over 7 innings, he allowed a run on 3 hits and no walks, striking out 10 to pick up the win and the Pitcher of the Day award. His Twins walked all over the Yankees 11-2.
Find the Link
Find the link between Brandon Lowe and Carl Crawford.