Yandy is back! (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After taking two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers, the Tampa Bay Rays continue their homestand on Monday when they welcome the Blue Jays into the Trop for a four-game series. Toronto was swept by Baltimore over the weekend.

At 34-14 on the season, the Rays enter play 20 games over .500 and 2.5 games up on the second-place Orioles.

Despite a loss in the series finale, preventing Tampa Bay from sweeping Milwaukee, the Rays are averaging 6.09 runs per game and boast a combined .273 batting, with a .850 OPS. They are still leading the league in home runs and have the second-most stolen bases. Over the last seven days, Tampa Bay maintains a 126 wRC+ on the back of a .253 BA/.338 OBP/.465 SLG/.803 OPS, with a beefy .212 wRAA.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are averaging 4.59 runs per game with a .733 OPS. And despite the pedigree of sluggers, they’re 18th in the league in homers on the season. They battled the regression monster of late, putting up an 88 wRC+ thanks to their .253 BA/.307 OBP/.368 SLG/.675 OPS over the last week, with a diminished .115 wRAA.

The Rays pitching staff has the second-lowest ERA and FIP in baseball, at 3.32 and 3.91 respectively (2.88 ERA and 3.37 FIP for the starters, and a 3.82 ERA and 4.50 FIP for the relievers) and the lowest WHIP in baseball (1.15 WHIP), along with 15 quality starts.

The Blue Jays pitching staff has a 3.99 ERA and a 4.44 FIP (4.01 ERA and 4.44 FIP for the starters, and a 3.95 ERA and 4.45 FIP for the relievers), with a 1.27 WHIP, and 23 quality starts.

The Rays are 1-2 against the Blue Jays on the season, with a -1 run differential. It should be noted that, after two consecutive extra-inning losses, Toronto’s bullpen comes in heavily taxed to an extent.

Pitching Probables

Over the next four days, Kevin Cash will turn to Josh Fleming (0-0, 3.68 ERA, 4.64 FIP) behind an opener, Taj Bradley (3-0, 3.54 ERA, 3.68 FIP), Shane McClanahan (7-0, 2.05 ERA, 2.58 FIP), and Zach Eflin (6-1, 3.45 ERA, 3.68 FIP). John Schneider will counter with Chris Bassitt (5-2, 3.05 ERA, 4.53 FIP), Jose Berrios (3-4, 4.61 ERA, 3.60 FIP), Yusei Kikuchi (5-1, 4.08 ERA, 5.65 FIP), and Alek Manoah (1-4, 5.15 ERA, 6.28 FIP).

Josh Fleming pitched five scoreless frames against the Mets on Wednesday, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out two. Fleming worked in a traditional starting role for just the second time this season and delivered five shutout innings to counteract a strong start by opposing hurler Kodai Senga. Fleming’s approach was the opposite of Senga’s — he coaxed just four whiffs and two strikeouts to Senga’s 18 and 12 — although the efficiency helped him get through five innings on 67 pitches. The left-hander doesn’t have dominant stuff, but he’s posted a decent 3.68 ERA and a 4.64 FIP through 36.2 innings thus far.

Chris Bassitt scattered three hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings against the Yankees on Wednesday. He struck out seven. The right-hander dazzled, as Bassitt didn’t allow a runner to get past second base while extending his scoreless streak to 27 frames — he hasn’t let a runner cross the plate since the first inning of an April 30 outing against Seattle. Bassitt tossed 66 of 97 pitches for strikes (68% strike rate) while delivering his seventh quality start of the season. He maintains a 3.05 ERA and a 4.53 FIP, with a 1.02 WHIP, and a 2.09 K/BB through 56 innings. Bassitt relies primarily on a 92 mph sinker that has slight arm-side run, while also mixing in a 76 mph slider that sweeps across the zone and has exceptional depth, an 87 mph cutter that has some natural sink, a 70 mph curveball that has exceptional bite and some slight glove-side movement, a 92 mph fourseam fastball that has some natural sinking action, and an 83 mph changeup that has slight arm-side fade. Key Matchups: Brandon Lowe (1-3, HR, RBI), Manuel Margot (1-2, BB), Francisco Mejía (1-3, 2B)

Taj Bradley allowed two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out four batters over five frames against the Mets on Thursday. The rookie right-hander tied a season-best mark by allowing just three hits, which came early in his outing. All told, Bradley maintains a 3.54 ERA and a 3.68 FIP, with a 0.93 WHIP, and a 6.75 K/BB across 20.1 innings on the season.

Jose Berrios surrendered three runs on six hits and a walk over 6.2 innings on Thursday. He struck out eight. The right-hander was on the wrong end of the decision but still delivered his fourth quality start of the season, tossing 65 of 96 pitches for strikes (67% strike rate) before exiting. Since coughing up eight runs to Kansas City in his season debut, Berrios has posted a 3.64 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and 4.5 K/BB through 47 innings. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (4-10, 2B, 2 RBI), Christian Bethancourt (1-2), Manuel Margot (5-12, 2B, 3 RBI), Luke Raley (1-2, RBI), Harold Ramírez (3-11, 2B, RBI), José Siri (1-4)

Shane McClanahan played the role of the stopper in his longest outing of the season, allowing no runs on six hits and a walk while striking out seven. He did so with his second-lowest pitch count (83 pitches, 60 strikes, 72% strike rate) of his campaign, and worked just one inning longer than 15 pitches (only two frames required more than 11 pitches). It was a bounce-back outing for the left-hander, who walked a career-high-tying four batters in each of his past two turns on the mound. So, how did McClanahan fix things to become more effective and efficient? A tweak in his mechanics — in his words, staying behind his pitches, and spinning them rather than muscling them into the strike zone — and filling up the zone. McClanahan was able to lower both his ERA and FIP to 2.05 and 3.60 (respectively) with his outing, and he now maintains an improved 1.19 WHIP (down from 1.22) and 2.72 K/BB (up from 2.54) across 57.0 innings on the season.

Yusei Kikuchi gave up three runs on three hits and four walks over 4.2 innings on Friday. He struck out three. All three runs came on a Ryan Mountcastle long ball in the third inning, although Kikuchi was lucky to escape without more damage. He has been taken deep six times in his last four turns, and his 4.08 ERA hides an ominous 5.64 FIP while also maintaining a 1.32 WHIP, and a 3.58 K/BB through 46.1 innings. Key Matchups: Christian Bethancourt 1-2, RBI), Wander Franco (4-9), Manuel Margot (3-10, BB), Harold Ramírez (3-8, BB)

Zach Eflin allowed three runs on four hits over seven innings against Milwaukee on Saturday. He punched out eight on an efficient 84 pitches (65 strikes, 77% strike rate). Outside of a pair of homers dished out to Owen Miller and Brian Anderson, Eflin was exceptional Saturday, fanning eight and pitching into the seventh frame for just the second time this season. Overall, the right-hander maintains a 3.45 ERA and a 3.68 FIP, with a 1.00 WHIP, and a 10.40 K/BB on the season.

Alek Manoah allowed two runs on six hits and one walk over 5.2 innings on Saturday against the Orioles. He struck out five. Manoah allowed two runs or fewer while completing at least five innings for the fifth time this season, although he still holds a 5.15 ERA and a 6.28 FIP, with a 1.74 WHIP due to a couple of poor outings, with a 1.21 K/BB over his first 10 starts of the season. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (3-12, 2B), Yandy Díaz (2-8, 2B, BB), Brandon Lowe (3-12, RBI, 3 BB), Josh Lowe (2-3, 3B, 3 RBI), Luke Raley (1-3), Harold Ramírez (3-8)

The Music That Influenced This Preview

Produced by Jonah Falco of Fucked Up, Home Front blasts out of Edmonton, Canada with a potent mix of street punk mixed with synth-pop. Think the Blitz meets New Order, and you’ll get a rough approximation of what you’ll hear. A really solid and fun debut.