Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays Pick – Wild Card Game 1 September 29, 2020

Probable Starters:

    Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.71 ERA) vs. Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 ERA)

The American League Wild Card Round begins on Tuesday with four games. Does it feel like postseason baseball to me? No. After only 60 games being played in the regular season, I’m still kind of stuck in regular season mode, but here we go with a total of 16 teams involved in the 2020 postseason.

Did Major League Baseball change the format or rules while I wasn’t looking? It feels like everything was slapped together on the fly, but at least we’re awarding a World Series champion this season after everything almost fell through. It’s important to note that the runner starting on second base rule in extra innings is scrapped in the postseason.

The first-round will be a three-game series to get into the Arlington bubble. Two wins is it all it will take to advance to the next round. Some teams certainly don’t deserve a spot in the playoffs, and got a bit lucky because of the playoff format that Major League Baseball implemented.

The Toronto Blue Jays are one of those teams. That’s not to say are bad, and the future is bright, but four games above .500 isn’t a postseason team. They draw the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the playoffs. The Rays are a quality club, but certainly a beatable opponent. The Blue Jays opened the season with a win over the Rays in Tampa at the Trop.

In ten meetings between the Blue Jays and Rays in 2020, they split with each team winning five games. The Blue Jays are the most recent winners, with a 6-4 win behind Tanner Roark over Blake Snell. It might come as a surprise not to see Ryu right out of the gate in Game 1 for the Blue Jays, but Charlie Montoyo wants to give him an extra day’s rest.

Montoyo spent over a decade inside the Rays’ organization. He was a bench boss from 2015 to 2018 before the Blue Jays hired him as their manager for the 2019 season. This series will be a homecoming of sorts, and I’m sure he wants to show that he should have been promoted to the top position in Tampa.

With Ryu starting Game 2, Montoyo will hand the ball to former Angel, Matt Shoemaker, on Tuesday to get this three-game series underway. Blake Snell is scheduled to counter for the Rays. Head below for our free Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays pick for September 29, 2020.

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays Game 1 Betting Odds:

Spread:

  • Blue Jays +1.5 (-125)
  • Rays -1.5 (+105)
Moneyline:

  • Blue Jays (-175)
  • Rays (+460)
Total:

  • Over 7.5 (+100)
  • Under 7.5 (-120)

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Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays Prediction:

It’s an interesting game plan for Montoyo to go with Matt Shoemaker in Game 1. Other teams will send out their ace for the first game, but Montoyo wants to preserve Ryu for the next game, which may be a do-or-die situation or opportunity to go to Arlington for October 5. Shoemaker has been dealt a frustrating hand in his career.

He’s spent a lot of it fighting off injuries, including in his first season with the Blue Jays last year. Shoemaker has been able to stay healthy through this shortened campaign, but probably wishes he had some starts back. Shoemaker has been mediocre with an ERA of 4.71 and 1.08 WHIP through 28.7 innings.

In his last three tilts leading up to the postseason, Shoemaker recorded an ERA of 4.50 and 1.17 WHIP. Shoemaker saw a lot of the Rays in his brief stint on the mound in 2020. He made just six starts, with half of them against the Rays. In other words, the Rays shouldn’t be surprised by anything he throws at them.

Shoemaker was strong in his first outing against the Rays, as he held them to 3 hits and 1 earned run through 6 innings of work. However, he wasn’t as efficient in the next two, with 7 hits and 5 earned runs conceded in 9 innings. The Rays were 12th in the major leagues with 4.82 runs scored per game. Conversely, the Blue Jays finished with 5.03 runs per game for 7th in the major leagues.

Blake Snell pitched against the Blue Jays on one occasion in 2020. It was a so-so effort for Snell, as he gave up 4 hits and 2 earned runs through 5.2 innings in a 6-4 loss on August 24. The Blue Jays have been adequate against Snell with a .264 batting average and .326 OBP across 76 at-bats. Overall, Snell posted an ERA of I think the total is a shade too low here. A 5-4 game wouldn’t shock me in Game 1.

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OVER 7.5
Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of The Sports Geek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at The Sports Geek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, and the NHL. Prior to writing for The Sports Geek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily at The Sports Geek.