Shane McClanahan was dominant on Wednesday, striking out 11 and blanking the Angels across seven innings. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After going 7-3 on their 10-game West Coast road trip, the Tampa Bay Rays return home to the friendly confines of the Trop, where they’ll start a three-game series against the Blue Jays on Friday.

Tampa Bay enters play six games over .500, while the Blue Jays are two games over .500 after winning just three of their last 10 contests.

After winning six consecutive games, the Rays ran into a three-game losing streak, which included being no-hit in a 12-0 loss against the Angels on Tuesday. Yet, Tampa Bay bounced back with a 4-2 extra-inning victory in the series finale, avoiding a sweep in Los Angeles. They ran into a ton of bad luck over the last week, performing to a .249 BABIP and, because of it, an 88wRC+ and a -6.5 wRAA.

Toronto was off on Thursday and enters the series on a four-game losing streak after falling to the New York Yankees on Wednesday, 5-3. The Blue Jays’ offense has not been as potent as expected. They are averaging just 3.7 runs per game on the road overall, and have performed to an 89 wRC+ over the last week.

Tampa Bay and Toronto have fantastic starting rotations, yet their bullpens are two vastly different beasts. The Rays’ relief staff has performed well in 2022 boasting an overall 3.52 ERA and 4.20 FIP, whereas the Blue Jays maintain a 4.22 ERA and 4.05 FIP. That is to say, the Rays will have their chances against the Jays ‘pen should Gausman and Manoah come up big on Friday and Sunday (respectively). Whatever the case, both teams have performed similarly over the last week, offensively speaking. Either they’ll break out this weekend, or we’ll be watching three low-scoring, close contests.

This will be the first head-to-head meeting in 2022, including Spring Training. Tampa Bay went 11-8 against Toronto last season.


Kevin Cash will turn to Drew Rasmussen (3-1, 2.89 ERA), Ryan Yarbrough (0-0, 6.14 ERA) in some capacity, and Corey Kluber (1-2, 4.55 ERA) over the next three days. Charlie Montoyo will counter with Kevin Gausman (3-1, 2.13 ERA), Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-0, 13.50 ERA), and Alek Manoah (4-0, 1.75 ERA).

Drew Rasmussen allowed one earned run on five hits and two walks while striking out five across five innings on Saturday against the Mariners. Rasmussen primarily relied on groundballs to keep the Mariners’ offense in check. The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third inning, while his lone blemish came in the fifth inning when he allowed a leadoff triple to Julio Rodriguez, who came around to score on an Adam Frazier RBI base hit. Rasmussen has suppressed runs effectively for most of the season, and he’s worked at least five innings in each of his last three turns — earning a win on each occasion. He maintains an impressive 2.89 ERA and 3.01 FIP, with a 0.96 WHIP and a 3.71 K/BB across 28 innings on the season. Rasmussen is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three career outings (two starts) against the Blue Jays.

Kevin Gausman allowed one run on six hits and a walk over 6.1 innings in the first game of a doubleheader against the Guardians on Saturday. He struck out five. The right-hander fired 69 of 104 pitches for strikes (66% strike rate) in delivering his fourth straight quality start. The only blemish on Gausman’s line was a fourth-inning free pass to Franmil Reyes that was not only his first of the season, it marked the first time he’d gone to a 3-0 count against a batter. Gausman is proving that his 2021 breakout was no fluke, posting a 2.13 ERA and 0.78 FIP, with a 1.00 WHIP and career-best 33.6 percent strikeout rate through 38 innings on the season. He relies primarily on a 95 mph four-seam fastball with slight arm-side run and a whiffy 85 mph splitter that has some natural sink to it, while also mixing in an 84 mph 12-6 slider that has two-plane movement. Superlatives aside, Gausman is 7-6 with a 4.00 ERA in 17 career outings (15 starts) against the Rays. Key Matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (6-22, 2 HR, 3 RBI), Mike Zunino (3-8, HR, RBI)

Ryan Yarbrough struck out four in five scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk on Sunday in Seattle. Yarbrough scattered four singles and pitched efficiently, tallying 68 pitches. It was his first start and second appearance of the season after beginning the campaign on the Injured List due to a groin injury. The start was vastly different from his first outing when he allowed five runs over 2.1 innings. All told, Yarbrough owns a much improved 6.14 ERA and 5.31 FIP, with a 1.91 WHIP across 7.1 frames. Yarbs has owned the Blue Jays over his career, posting an 8-2 record with a 3.23 ERA in 17 outings (eight starts).

Hyun-Jin Ryu was originally expected to miss just two or three starts with left forearm inflammation, but a Saturday return would mean he’ll wind up missing just shy of a month. He struggled in his first two outings of the season, prior to the injury, surrendering 11 runs in 7.1 innings. Ryu has performed to a 13.50 ERA and 6.12 FIP, with a 1.77 WHIP and a 2.51 K/BB. He relies primarily on a 90 mph four-seam fastball that has some natural sinking action and a 72 mph curveball with sharp bite and sweeping glove-side movement, while also mixing in an 86 mph cutter, an 81 mph changeup that has some natural sink to it, and a 90 mph sinker. Ryu is 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA in four career starts against the Rays.

Corey Kluber was shellacked on Tuesday, allowing eight runs on 11 hits in three innings while striking out two. Kluber was hit hard throughout the night, allowing multiple runs in each of his three frames and serving up home runs to Mike Trout and Chad Wallach. Entering the contest, Kluber had been quite stingy, allowing only seven runs and two homers over 26.2 frames. Following the rough start, the veteran’s ERA jumped from 2.36 to 4.60, with a 3.76 FIP. Coincidentally, the only other time in his 12-year career that he allowed eight runs was May 10, 2013 — nine years ago to the day. Kluber is 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 career starts against the Blue Jays.

Alek Manoah allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out three in five innings on Sunday against the Guardians. Sunday’s outing marked the first time this season that Manoah didn’t record a quality start in 2022, but he was still relatively effective while tossing 95 pitches against Cleveland. The right-hander has a strong 1.75 ERA and 3.26 FIP, with a 0.89 WHIP and a 3.89 K/BB in 36 innings. He relies primarily on a whiffy 94 mph four-seam fastball and an 81 mph slider that sweeps across the zone, while also mixing in a 93 mph sinker, and a firm 87 mph changeup that has slight arm-side fade. Manoah is 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA in four career starts against the Rays. Key Matchups: Brandon Lowe (2-7, RBI, 2 BB), Francisco Mejia (1-4, 2B), Mike Zunino (2-4, 2B)