I don’t know why I convinced myself that Robbie Ray had things figured out yesterday. Ray has been getting pummeled all season long, and I looked at the fact that he didn’t give up a hit in his last start, despite walking a bunch of batters, and felt that his tough competition was an easy way to explain away his struggles. I thought that maybe, just maybe, he was going to be a somewhat respectable pitcher again.
Yeah, I missed on that one. Ray again couldn’t find the strike zone and walked five batters and allowed four runs on seven hits, in five innings of work. When did Robbie Ray turn into Wild Thing from Major League? Yeah, he strikes out a bunch of guys, but that’s only because even he doesn’t know where the ball is going to go when he throws it, so how are the hitters supposed to have any clue?
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) August 22, 2020
Ray has now walked an absolutely absurd 25 hitters in 27 innings, and oh yeah, when he does find the plate, the hitters don’t stand much of a chance, as he also has 35 Ks. The Giants took advantage of Ray’s wild ways and built up and early lead and played add-on late and took home a 6-2 victory.
The win was the fourth in a row for San Francisco, and with the DBacks and Rockies both slumping, they are crawling their way back into the playoff picture in the National League. Arizona has now lost three straight games, and drop back to below .500 on the year with the loss. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Tampa Bay, where the Rays host the Blue Jays.
Toronto Blue Jays (13-11) at Tampa Bay Rays (17-10)
What has gotten into the Toronto Blue Jays lately? After starting out the month by losing seven out of their first eleven games, and seeing their best hitter so far this season, Bo Bichette, go down with a knee injury, the Blue Jays looked left for dead. But Toronto has found a way to rally, and they have reeled off six straight wins to get themselves right back into the playoff conversation in the American League.
For Tampa Bay, the Rays came in riding high into this series as they picked up a huge three-game sweep over the New York Yankees in their last series, a streak that saw them overtake New York for first place in the AL East Division for the first time this year. The Rays came back from an early 4-1 deficit yesterday, only to lose the game in extra innings to drop game one of this three-game series with the Blue Jays.
Starting tonight for the Rays is Aaron Slegers (0-0 11.25 ERA), and for the Blue Jays, it is Hyun-jin Ryu (2-1 3.46 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eight and a half runs. The Blue Jays are small -115 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 3:40 PM PST from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Toronto Blue Jays
I am not going to lie, I was one of those guys that didn’t see a lot of good things happening the rest of the way out for Toronto, when Bo Bichette went down with a knee injury. Bichette was crushing the baseball, and leading the way for the Blue Jays, before he strained his LCL, and is now on the IL, with no timetable for his return.
The guy that has picked up the slack for Toronto, has been Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Gurriel Jr has been hammering the baseball this week as he has hit safely in each of the Blue Jays six games during this win streak. All told, he has nine hits in six games, with eight RBI, and is hitting at a .375 clip. In yesterday’s game, Gurriel Jr had the deciding RBI in the tenth inning, when he drove in Cavan Biggio with a sac fly to give the Blue Jays the win.
Hyun-jin Ryu (2-1 3.46 ERA)
Another guy that has really turned it on lately has been starting pitcher, Hyun-jin Ryu. Ryu wasn’t great in July, as he got roughed up in his first two starts. But here in August, this guy is looking a lot like the guy he was last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he led the National League in ERA and finished runner up for the NL Cy Young Award.
In August, Ryu is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA in three starts. He has been very stingy allowing hits, as he has pitched a combined 17 innings and has allowed just seven hits total. Ryu has a deadly combination of striking out a lot of guys and forcing a ton of ground balls, that have made runs very hard to come by when he is on the mound. He has allowed just two earned runs in last three starts combined.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays had a bit of a let down last night after sweeping the Yankees in the Bronx in a three-game series. But make no mistake, this is a really good team, and they can absolutely win it all this year. The Rays have always prided themselves on pitching, and this year, their pitching has been solid. But where Tampa Bay is really seeing an improvement in 2020, is at the dish.
The Rays are currently the second-highest scoring team in the Major Leagues, not many people would have guessed that coming into the season! Tampa Bay has really turned up the heat in the last couple of weeks, as they have been blistering the baseball in their last three series.
The Rays scored twenty runs in three games against New York, fourteen runs in three games against Toronto, and forty-two runs in four games against the Boston Red Sox. That is over seven and a half runs a game on average, and its no wonder that the Rays won all but one of those games.
Aaron Slegers (0-0 11.25 ERA)
Don’t recognize the name Aaron Slegers? Don’t worry, nobody else does either. Slegers, has three years of big league experience under his belt, but has been used very sparingly, and spends most of his time in the Minor Leagues. Last year, he had just one appearance for Tampa Bay, the year before he pitched 13.2 innings for the Twins, and in 2018 with Minnesota, he pitched just 15.1 innings.
Slegers has two appearances this year and has not pitched well. He threw two innings against the Boston Red Sox and got smashed for five earned runs. He did manage to pitch a clean one-two-three inning against the New York Yankees on Thursday, to drop his ERA from 22.50, to where it stands now at 11.25. Yikes.
Who Do I Like?
Both of these teams are playing well right now. Last night’s game was very competitive, and I would expect this one to follow suit. And while the Rays are certainly the better overall team, the starting pitching matchup is a major mismatch.
Ryu is an All-Star caliber arm that can go out and shut teams down single-handedly. Aaron Slegers is a farmhand that works out of the bullpen and probably won’t pitch more than an inning or two in this game.
The Tampa Bay Rays have had a seemingly endless line of flame throwers come out of their bullpen over the course of the last several seasons. These tend to be no-name guys that nobody has heard of, that show up and excel on this Rays unconventional pitching staff.
But don’t confuse Aaron Slegers with those guys, as this guy can’t strike anybody out in the majors. In 36 career MLB innings, Slegers has just 18 Ks. That is a K/9 ratio of 4.5. And even in the minors, he never had swing and miss stuff, as his lifetime K/9 in seven Minor League seasons was an underwhelming 6.6.
I hate to bet against this Tampa Bay Rays team, but Ryu has got it going on right now, and this red-hot Blue Jays lineup is going to hammer Aaron Slegers. I can’t imagine Tampa Bay is going to leave him in the game all that long, but while he is on the mound, he is a liability.
At basically even money, I won’t pass up on taking Ryu versus a Tampa Bay Rays bullpen day. Give me the Toronto Blue Jays tonight in St. Pete as they extend their winning streak to seven straight!