The Toronto Blue Jays are in Tampa Bay for game two of a three game series with the Rays. The Rays took game one last night 6-5, behind homers from Lucas Duda and Corey Dickerson and a ten strike out performance from starting pitcher Chris Archer. Today the Blue Jays send ace Marcus Stroman (11-6 2.99 ERA) to the mound to square off against the Rays Austin Pruitt (6-4 5.37 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Today’s MLB Pick:
Toronto Blue Jays -117 at Tampa Bay Rays -103 (Total: 8.5)
Marcus Stroman (11-6, 2.99 ERA) vs. Austin Pruitt (6-4 5.37 ERA)
There isn’t a lot of good to say about the Toronto Blue Jays this year. They are in last place in the American League East Division, and at six games back for even the second Wild Card in the American League, their playoff hopes are slim. Many expected them to trade away all their expiring assets and look to the future. But they didn’t. They held pretty much pat at the deadline and decided to give the core of this group one more shot.
The Jays have been serviceable in baseballs second half. They are 10-9 in August, but they need to be much, much, better if they are going to make up any ground in the American League Wild Card chase. Losers of their last four games the Jays need to kick it into overdrive now if they want any chance of playing postseason ball this year. You can’t ask for a better guy on the mound if you are Toronto tonight as they send budding superstar Marcus Stroman to the mound to try and stop the bleeding.
Stroman has been one of the few bright spots for Toronto on the season. His sub three ERA of just 2.99 is third in the American League behind only Chris Sale and Corey Kluber, that is some elite company for the young hurler. In his last three starts, Stroman has pitched twenty-one innings and has given up only four earned runs while striking out seventeen. Stroman is the best the Jays can offer, and they badly need a win tonight. He will have a soft matchup against a Rays team that has seemingly forgotten how to swing the bats this month.
The Tampa Bay Rays surprised just about everyone by competing in the very tough American League East division all season along. They hung tough all season long and at the trade deadline many expected them to make a couple of moves to try and make a push for the playoffs. Instead, they turned into mild sellers and decided to look more towards the future rather than giving themselves a shot at the post season. This year’s team, however,, has not reacted well that plan.
The Rays have pretty much fallen apart since the July 31st trade deadline, and their bats, in particular, have been an embarrassment. The Rays are 8-12 in August and went from being in the first Wild Card slot just a few weeks ago to now finding themselves four games back of even the second Wild Card spot. Falling behind Texas, Seattle, Kansas City, the Angels, Minnesota, and the Yankees, the Rays are going to have to jump a bunch of team s if they are going to get back in contention for a playoff spot this season.
So, about those bats. In August, the Rays own the worst batting average in all of baseball at .215, that is six points worse than the next closest team. Their 53 runs scored in the month is also last place in the majors, and they are way behind the pack here as the next closest team has 76 runs scored. Luckily the San Francisco Giants exist, so they are only 29th in the Majors in home runs this month. It has been an absolute joke of a month at the plate for the Rays and is really ruining what has been a very strong pitching month for the Rays. In August, the Rays team ERA is just 3.31, good for second in the bigs, behind only the Washington Nationals, but it is all being wasted as they just can’t score.
This is a tight matchup between two struggling teams doing their best to just stay relevant for another week. I don’t expect either of these teams to make the playoffs this year, but they both want to stay on that dance floor just a bit longer before they back up their bags and head home for the winter. I just think Marcus Stroman is going to be too good today for this Rays team that can’t hit a lick. The line is close, and I expect a lower scoring affair but I just can’t back this Rays team right now when they can’t score on anybody. And Marcus Stroman isn’t just anybody. Give me the Jays in a tight one tonight from St. Pete.
Today’s MLB Pick: Blue Jays -110