Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays’ starting picture, said that this past spring was his most confident in his career yet. The real key for Moore will be translating it into real results in the regular season. That goes for staying healthy, too. Moore hasn’t had the best of luck staying healthy, and it would be a treat for the Rays if he is able to keep his arm in one piece. He is going to face a test in his first start against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rays were able to capture their first win of the season yesterday, as they edged out the Jays, 3-2, to bring the opening season series to 2-1 in favor of Toronto. Tampa has scored 3 runs in each of their first three games. Last night, the pitching was able to hold the Jays’ bats down and 3 runs was just enough to get their first win of the young season.
J.A. Happ is no stranger to the Blue Jays, but will be making his first start with Toronto since 2014. Happ went to Seattle following his stint with the Blue Jays and ended up landing with the Pittsburgh Pirates a year ago. This will be his third try with the Jays, as he left in 2012 to become an Astro for a few months. His role with the Blue Jays is larger than it appears at first look. He has to be a cog for them at the end of the rotation. Happ has to be an inning eater who will go out and let the offense wreak havoc on opposing pitchers. Happ is capable of doing that, but I do worry about how big his impact can be later in August and September.
An average pitcher, like Happ, should love to play on the Blue Jays. The offense is one of the best in the majors, thus, often they have plenty of support from the plate. The Blue Jays have been able to score 12 runs in three games up to this point. They haven’t been mashing the ball out of the yard just yet either, so it has been a quiet offensive effort for them, yet still recorded 10 runs in their first two games. That is certainly good news. 5-6 runs a game should be fairly common for the Blue Jays this season. They get to test Moore’s susceptible left arm out early on Wednesday afternoon.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays
J.A. Happ (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Matt Moore (0-0, 0.00)
If it weren’t for that late flurry of runs in game 1 of this series, I’d be looking at a nice 3-0 start to the season. Ah well, we will look to reach 3-1 today, as we head back to the Jays and Rays’ series in Florida. Happ seems like a guy who bounces from girlfriend to girlfriend, and back again. It has been that kind of relationship with the Blue Jays, as they use him when they want and dispose rather quickly of him. Happ pitched for a respectable 3.07 ERA over 14.5 innings pitched in spring training. He has not had a season where he’s held his ERA below 4.00 since 2010. Too bad those 14.5 innings don’t equate to a full season of work for Happ. The Mariners weren’t too content with his work in Seattle last season, posting a 4.64 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 21 appearances on the mound. Happ has had a tough time against the Rays throughout his career, with a 4.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.
If the Blue Jays can get something around a 4.00 ERA from Happ, they would be happy with that. Like I said, the offense on the Jays should be able to pick this pitching staff up during the regular season. There will be question marks for Toronto come September, but the offense should pull the weight. For Matt Moore, this is a judgement day kind of year for him. Last year he was awful with a 5.43 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. He didn’t respond well coming back from his injury. With the offseason to work things out, we’ll see if he’s rectified his issues in Tampa. Tall order for him today against the Jays’ lineup who were quiet yesterday. I see some runs being scored early and often this afternoon at Tropicana. Moore caught a tough draw in his first start against this powerful offense of the Blue Jays.
PICK: OVER 8 RUNS (-110)