The Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays are set to start a three-game series on Friday night, at the Rogers Centre. Tampa Bay is coming off a series win against the Baltimore Orioles, while Toronto dropped two-of-three to the Red Sox, thanks to some atrocious pitching.
An anomalous appearance by Sergio Romo in the second game of the series against Baltimore — resulting in a loss — notwithstanding, the Rays did what they set out to do: win the series. Jake Bauers came up big, driving in six of Tampa Bay’s 13 runs including four in the series finale. Mallex Smith also did his part, going 3-11 with five runs over the last three games.
Toronto, on the other hand, had nothing to show for its efforts against Boston, dropping two-of-three. After three straight games where they were very impressive against Seattle, the Jays’ streaky pitching staff struggled once again — allowing just six total runs in the first three games against the Mariners, but a whopping 31 runs in the four that followed. The bullpen has been the largest contributor to their poor spate of play, with the relievers carrying an 11.40 ERA over the last five games.
As always, the Blue Jays represent a powerful team that can hit the ball long distances. That being said, Toronto also strikes out at a decent clip and doesn’t walk a ton. The Rays pitching staff must keep the Jays in the ballpark, while Bauers and company need to jump on any mistakes they may see at the plate.
Over the next three days Kevin Cash will lean on Blake Snell (12-5, 2.27 ERA), Jake Faria (4-3, 5.26 ERA), and Tyler Glasnow (0-0, 2.57 ERA). John Gibbons will counter with Marco Estrada (5-8, 4.65 ERA), Sam Gaviglio (1-4, 5.25 ERA), and Marcus Stroman (4-8, 5.20 ERA).
Blake Snell allowed one run on three hits and two walks over four innings while striking out three against the ChiSox, in his first start since recovering from shoulder fatigue. Snell was limited to 59 pitches (34 strikes, 54% strike rate) but delivered a solid effort, with the only run against him coming via a Jose Abreu homer. The southpaw will likely get stretched out a little further in his next outing Friday.
Marco Estrada allowed one run on one hit and two walks while striking out four over seven innings in a win over Seattle on Saturday. The right-hander wasn’t exactly dominant (just eight swinging strikes on 93 pitches), yet he was successful at pitching to contact, as the Mariners couldn’t find any holes in the field. After outperforming his peripherals for a few seasons, Estrada has crashed hard the last two years with all the homers finally catching up to him. His 10.4% strikeout-to-walk rate this season is his worst mark since 2008. Estrada held the Rays scoreless over six innings on May 6th but is 1-8 with a 4.54 ERA in 15 career appearances (11 starts) against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (1-2, HR, 2 RBI), CJ Cron (2-7, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Matt Duffy (2-6, 3 RBI), Carlos Gomez (3-3), Kevin Kiermaier (8-23, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, BB), Jesus Sucre (1-2, HR, RBI)
Jake Faria was credited with the win in Wednesday’s 7-2 victory over the Angels, allowing one run on four hits and three walks over 3-2/3 innings of relief. He struck out four on 68 pitches (41 strikes, 60% strike rate). Faria entered the game in relief of Tyler Glasnow, though he wasn’t exactly sharp. Even so, he limited the damage from his lack of control and benefited from a couple of big innings by the Rays offense.
Sam Gaviglio allowed three earned runs on seven hits and three walks while fanning seven across 5-2/3 innings Sunday against Seattle — falling one out shy of a quality start and was pulled after 89 pitches and walking consecutive batters in the sixth inning. His seven strikeouts (including 11 swinging strikes) marked his second-best performance in an outing this season. While Gaviglio has a solid 74 strikeouts across 78 frames this season, he has only two quality starts in 15 chances and has struggled to post useful peripherals (5.08 ERA, 1.44 WHIP). He allowed five earned runs on seven hits (including a home run) over 3-1/3 innings in his last start against the Rays and is 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA in two career starts against the good guys. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-1, RBI), Jake Bauers (2-2, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Matt Duffy (2-3), Mallex Smith (1-2, RBI), Joey Wendle (1-1, RBI)
Tyler Glasnow made his second start for the Rays on Monday, but because he had been used as a reliever in Pittsburgh, Glasnow was on a pitch count of four innings or 60 pitches and will continue to be until he is fully stretched out.
Over his first two frames, Glasnow struck out five of six batters on 98 mph fastballs and low 80’s curveballs that were hard to time up due to the speed differential and the movement.
Baltimore got its first baserunner with two outs in the third, when Caleb Joseph singled and swiped second, but Glasnow struck out Jonathan Villar on four pitches, setting up a filthy 86 mph slider with a trio of fastballs.
Tim Beckham, ever the intrepid fastball hunter, led off the fourth inning with a solo home run when Glasnow’s velocity dropped a touch, but that was the only damage incurred against the tall right-hander.
All told, Glasnow struck out nine and walked none — not bad for a guy with a reputation of having control issues.
Following the game, Glasnow told reporters he feels comfortable with Tampa Bay and is pitching more athletically than trying to control his delivery.
I felt good physically and I wanted to go out and attack, Glasnow was quoted as saying.
The next step for Glasnow is to prove he’s capable of going five or six innings per outing.
Marcus Stroman suffered an injury that forced him to leave Tuesday’s game after seven innings; a blister on his right middle finger. The right-hander cruised through Boston’s lineup before he was pulled during warmups prior to the eighth inning. And while Stroman said he “won’t be missing (his) next start,” everything will depend on his progress over the next few days. He has dealt with the blister issue throughout the season. He has relied primarily on a whiffy 93 mph sinker with natural sinking action and a sweeping 86 mph slider with two-plane movement, while also mixing in a 91 mph worm-killer cutter, an 83 mph curveball with slight glove-side movement, a 93 mph four-seam fastball and an 83 mph changeup with slight arm side fade. Stroman is 5-4 with a 4.37 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rays. Key Matchups: CJ Cron (3-8), Matt Duffy (2-5. 2B, BB), Carlos Gomez (2-2, HR, 3 RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (8-28, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB), Mallex Smith (1-4, 2B)
— Key number: six, as in the Rays have played six consecutive one-run ballgames. They’ve gone 2-4 over that stretch.
— The Rays recently announced their MLB Player’s Weekend nicknames, with newcomers Tyler Glassnow (Mini Horse) and Jalen Beeks (Beeker) clearly winning:
#PlayersWeekend is back! You gotta check out these names.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 9, 2018