The Tampa Bay Rays will host the Toronto Blue Jays tonight in game one of a three-game series. The Rays are completely falling apart in June after a solid month of May. Tampa Bay has now lost nine out of their last ten games and are ahead of only the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East Division. The Blue Jays haven’t enjoyed a lot of success yet this season either as they are just a half of a game up on Tampa Bay right now. They did, however, manage to sweep the Orioles in their last series, four games to none, so they are heating up.
Starting tonight for the Rays is Ryan Yarbrough (4-2 3.68 ERA), and for the Blue Jays, it is Sam Gaviglio (2-1 2.52 ERA). This game is an even pick ‘em as both teams are -110. The game total over-under is set at eight runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
The Tampa Bay Rays have been using a starter by committee approach the last several weeks, and it has not been working out very well at all. Heading into the season, the idea to have a “bullpen day” where the bullpen would start the game, was supposed to be used just be once per week. But now with several injuries to their starting rotation, the Rays have turned to this disastrous strategy several days a week, and they are seeing the losses really stack up.
Today’s starter Ryan Yarbrough is one of the bullpen guys the Rays have turned to, to start games. At this point, it looks like Yarbrough is probably just a member of the rotation now as he has started three straight games and has not been made available in the pen. Yarbrough was having a pretty good season out of the bullpen for Tampa as he racked up a solid 4-2 record in mostly long relief and had a very competitive ERA of just 3.21. As a starter he hasn’t been all that bad, giving up nine runs in eighteen innings of work in three starts. The problem is, the Rays have lost each of those three games. It will be interesting to see what Yarbrough can do against this powerful Blue Jays offense that is eighth in the majors in runs scored and fifth in home runs.
We saw just how powerful this Blue Jays offense could be last night when they exploded for thirteen runs against the Baltimore Orioles. This team has been all about the long ball this year. Unfortunately, they haven’t been hitting consistently enough to make up for what has been some pretty terrible pitching. Toronto is twenty-fifth in the majors in earned run average entering this series. One bright spot for the Blue Jays pitching, has been the recently added to the rotation, Sam Gaviglio.
Gaviglio started his season in the bullpen and was quickly promoted to the starting rotation. He has been very good in his four starts since becoming part of the rotation. He has pitched a total of twenty-four and a third innings and has given up just seven earned runs. In his last start, he was absolutely lights out as he held the New York Yankees to just three hits and no runs in seven innings of work. That was against the best offensive team in the majors, tonight he will face a Rays team that is twenty-fifth in the bigs in runs scored.
Neither of these teams are going to make the playoffs this year. Their division is just too good with the Yankees and Red Sox both eyeing a hundred wins. But the Blue Jays seem like they are going to be much more competitive the rest of the way out, if for no other reason besides the fact that they still have most of their opening day roster. That might change before the trade deadline, but as of now, this team looks a lot like we thought it would at the start of the year.
The same cannot be said about Tampa Bay. The Rays lost their best player, Kevin Kiermaier, to injury early in the season and have shipped off several other players in trades, most notably Denard Span and closer Alex Colome. This team is throwing up the white flag, and it shows. Since trading away Span and Colome to Seattle the Rays have lost nine out of their last ten games.
This Rays team is crumbling right now, and I expect when it is all said and done this year they will have one of the worst records in the American League. They just don’t have the talent this season. So, while the records for Tampa Bay and Toronto look similar now, in a couple of weeks, I am guessing that Toronto will start to pull away from Tampa and be just a bad team, not a really bad one.
Gaviglio managed to shut down the Yankees in his last start, and I see him cruising through this weak Rays lineup today. You can pencil in Gaviglio for six or seven innings of strong work, and I see the Jays doing just enough to win against this patchwork pitching staff for Tampa Bay. Give me the Toronto Blue Jays at a pick ‘em tonight in game one!