The Toronto Blue Jays started out the week with a much needed win over the Tampa Bay Rays last night. In a close matchup that could have went either way, the Blue Jays were on the receiving end of a pinch-hit deep ball from Ezequiel Carrera. With Josh Donaldson struggling, the Blue Jays need to find others to come up clutch on a nightly basis. Carrera played the part last night in the bottom of the 8th inning to give the Jays a 3-2 win. Bautista got into the fold with his first homer of the month to help the Jays out as well. Francisco Liriano pitched a nice game, as he only allowed two baserunners through the first 18 outs and 67 pitches.
It doesn’t come too often that the Blue Jays win those low-scoring, grind it out kind of baseball games, but last night they needed it in a big way. The Blue Jays got the win after dropping two of three to the Red Sox, an important series they came up flat in. The Red Sox belted the Baltimore Orioles last night, so that hurt their chances of catching the division lead, but help them in the wildcard.
As it stands now, Toronto is still 2 games back of the division lead in the American League East. If the postseason started today, they would be playing in the Wild Card Round. The Jays’ offense just needs to find the light switch to the on position for their offense, and they would still be a viable threat to emerge as one of the most dangerous postseason teams.
The Blue Jays have gone 3-7 in their last ten games. September hasn’t been the kindest to them, after finishing up August on a four-game win streak, the Blue Jays have gone 3-7. If they want the opportunity to play good baseball in October, they’re going to have to shake out of the funk. The Blue Jays are hoping last night was a stepping stone to that. They also hope Marcus Stroman can find some of the magic he had in his bag of tricks a year ago, too.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Drew Smyly (6-11, 5.05 ERA) vs Marcus Stroman (9-7, 4.55 ERA)
Marcus Stroman suffered an early injury season that looked like might have ended his year. However, Stroman was able to return later in the season, and he made the most of it, compiling a 4-0 record with a 1.67 ERA. He also helped the Jays out in the postseason pretty nicely. Stroman was poised to make a big splash in 2016 with a healthy arm, but it hasn’t been the case, as he has struggled with an ERA of 4.55. His poor effort has contributed to the Blue Jays being behind in the AL East. If it weren’t for J.A. Happ, there is no telling how far back they’d be at the moment. Stroman has allowed 10 runs in his last three starts, for a 5.29 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. He has been worse off at the Rogers Centre in Toronto with a posted 4.93 ERA.
Drew Smyly had been one of the more underrated, under the radar pitchers of the past several years. However, when you have a career plagued with injuries, and unable to stay on the field, you aren’t going to garner much attention. In his first year as a Ray, he made seven starts for a 1.70 ERA. Last season he hit the hump for just twelve starts, finishing with a 3.10 ERA. Under a full season of action in 2016, his arm seems to be getting a bit tired. He enters the Rogers Centre with a 5.05 ERA and 6.75 ERA in his last three tilts, including a 1.64 WHIP. His numbers have been less than impressive on the road, with an ERA of 5.60 away from Florida. Is Smyly going to be the guy to get the Toronto offense going? I think they will come to play tonight and make life miserable for Smyly. Stroman has been a hard one to pinpoint in 2016 though, so the safe bet in this one is on the OVER 9.
PICK: OVER 9 RUNS (-110)