With no win to show yet in the 2017 season, the Toronto Blue Jays head to the sunshine state for a weekend dance with the Rays in Tampa. Like I said earlier, there really isn’t much to read into their 0-2 start. It’s early in what amounts to a long, grueling season which sees plenty of twists and turns. The offense will come around for the Blue Jays, but is it going to come around tonight against the Rays?
The Jays will be backed by the talented Marcus Stroman on the hump this evening. Stroman has had his share of ups and downs in his three-year career, but is hoping to put it all together in 2017.
He’s also had trouble staying healthy, limiting his ability in 2015 but he made timely starts down the stretch and in the postseason that particular year. There weren’t too many positives for him last year, getting hit hard in the postseason, along with what could have been a better ERA of 4.37.
Stroman has shown how dominant he can be, but he has to show it across a full season on the mound. His bank account could directly be impacted by his numbers in 2017. There are lofty expectations placed on Stroman this season, as he’s expected to carry more of the load in the Blue Jays’ rotation.
It was supposed to come last season. After all, he posted an ERA of 1.67 late in 2015 so people were expecting some carryover. Not the case, so Stroman will have to get in the good graces of fans and management in 2017. It’s what I think is his most important season of his career yet.
The Rays will counter with Blake Snell, who is entering his sophomore year at the major league level. Snell was hot and cold in 19 starts, we’ll see if he can improve on his 3.54 ERA in 2017. Let’s get right to our Blue Jays vs. Rays pick for Thursday night on the bases.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays Pick
Marcus Stroman (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Blake Snell (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Stroman will get his first start of the year tonight against the Rays, hoping he finds some run support in what has been a cool start for the Jays’ offense. Toronto has faced Snell twice in his young career, both resulting in mixed reviews. The first outing saw Snell last just 1.2 innings as he allowed 5 runs. He put it together in the next matchup though, allowing 1 run in 6 innings of work.
Snell hasn’t been the best in spring training, as he’s struggled to find command. He finished with an ERA of 6.16 and didn’t do much to make anyone too confident in him going into the regular season. Snell can regularly touch the mid-90’s on the radar gun, but taking control of his power has been the brunt of his issues.
Stroman, on the other hand, led Team USA as MVP of the World Baseball Classic with a 2.35 ERA in three starts. He also looked sharp in 4.2 innings of spring training work as well, notching 6 strikeouts and a 1.93 ERA. I can see the Blue Jays breaking out of their mini offensive funk and get some run support up on the board for Stroman. We like the Blue Jays to get the job done, and give us a winning MLB pick on Thursday night.
PICK: BLUE JAYS (-130)