After sweeping the Baltimore Orioles thanks to a huge offensive outburst, the Tampa Bay Rays ride a wave of momentum into Dunedin, where they will face the Blue Jays in a weekend wrap-around series starting Friday. The Blue Jays dropped their series to the Red Sox two games to three.
The Rays continued an offensive onslaught that started in the middle game of the series against the Mets and continued in Charm City where they plated 32 runs (20 two-out runs) against the Orioles in what could be deemed the Baltimore Beatdown. Tampa Bay was great with runners in scoring position for the second consecutive series, going 14-for-31 — good for a .452 wRISP batting average.
Yandy Díaz, Randy Arozarena, Joey Wendle, and Mike Zunino continued their toasty ways, combining to go 37-for-95 (.389 combined batting average) with 20 extra-base hits — nine doubles, one triple, and 10 homers — over the last seven days (two series). Meanwhile, Ji-Man Choi and Kevin Kiermaier — both of whom were activated from the Injured List in recent days — also contributed to the hit show, as did Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe among others.
They were able to crack a pair of sub 2.50 ERA hurlers, Marcus Stroman and John Means, over the last four days which will be important as they make their way into Dunedin to face a good Blue Jays team.
And while Tampa Bay’s offense has been good the last 14 days, performing to a 121 wRC+ and a 9.6 wRAA — both of which are above average metrics — Toronto has been better, performing to a 135 wRC+ and a 21.3 wRAA. They don’t walk or strike out a lot, and when they make contact the balls are often properly struck.
If the Rays can stave off the Blue Jays beefy offense, they should get a chance at cracking a pitching staff that has come back down to earth. In the month of May, Toronto hurlers maintain a 4.38 ERA and a 4.25 FIP (4.86 ERA and 4.67 FIP starters, 3.84 ERA and 3.77 FIP relievers).
The Rays dropped two of three against the Blue Jays back in April, although Toronto outscored Tampa bay by one measly run.
Over the next four days, Kevin Cash is expected to turn to Tyler Glasnow (4-2, 2.35 ERA), Shane McClanahan (1-0, 4.67 ERA), Josh Fleming (3-3, 2.34 ERA), and Ryan Yarbrough (2-3, 4.24 ERA) in some capacity. Charlie Montoyo will counter with a pitcher to be named before the series opener, Robbie Ray (2-1, 3.79 ERA), Hyun-jin Ryu (4-2, 2.51 ERA), and Ross Stripling (0-3, 7.20 ERA).
Tyler Glasnow got the start Friday against the Mets and allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 across eight dominant frames on 105 pitches (70 strikes, 67% strike rate). The only damage against Glasnow came off a fifth-inning two-run homer by Jonathan Villar which started a stretch where he allowed four consecutive hits. Yet, they were four of only five hits he allowed over a season-high eight innings. Friday marked the fifth time in nine starts the right-hander has racked up double-digit strikeouts. He, however, has surrendered seven long balls in his last five turns. Overall, Glasnow maintains a 2.35 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 4.25 K/BB across 57-1/3 innings. He is 0-3 with a 6.44 ERA in seven career starts against the Blue Jays.
Shane McClanahan allowed four runs on six hits across 5-1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk on Saturday against the Mets. The left-hander surrendered two home runs on a pair of hanging sliders which accounted for all four runs. Saturday was the longest turn, albeit the one with the most runs allowed, for McClanahan, who pitched exactly four innings in each of his first three starts. McClanahan maintains a 4.67 ERA and a 3.71 FIP with a 4.32 K/BB and a 1.27 WHIP across 17-1/3 innings.
Robbie Ray allowed four runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out nine over 5-2/3 innings against the Phillies on Sunday. Ray has now struck out at least nine batters in each of his last three starts. The left-hander tossed four scoreless innings to begin Sunday’s contest but allowed four runs in the fifth and sixth innings before his exit. Ray has now posted a 3.79 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over 40-1/3 innings across seven starts this season. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three career starts against the Rays, and he allowed three runs on six hits (including two home runs) across six innings at the Trop on April 24. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (1-3), Mike Brosseau (1-3, HR, 2 RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (1-2), Francisco Mejía (1-2, 2B, RBI)
Josh Fleming tossed five scoreless innings against the Mets on Sunday, giving up one hit while fanning five. The left-hander has moved in and out of the rotation, yet he delivered one of his best outings of the season thus. He’s now given up one run or fewer in five of his seven appearances this season and has improved his ERA to an excellent 2.34 mark (4.17 FIP) with a 1.91 K/BB and a 0.98 WHIP across 34-2/3 innings. Fleming is 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA in two career outings (one start) against the Blue Jays.
Hyun-jin Ryu tossed seven scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Monday, allowing four hits while fanning seven. Ryu has now allowed one run or fewer in three of his last four starts, but Monday’s performance was perhaps his most dominant of the season — he tossed 67 of his 100 pitches for strikes (67% strike rate) and just one runner reached scoring position. The left-hander owns a 2.37 ERA and a 2.82 FIP in three starts this month. Ryu is 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three career starts against the Rays, and 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in one 3-2/3 inning outing at the Trop in April. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (2-3, 2B), Mike Brosseau (2-6, 2B, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (1-3), Francisco Mejía (1-3), Joey Wendle (1-3)
Ryan Yarbrough served up six runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks while fanning two across six innings on Wednesday against Baltimore. Yarbrough can consider this his first quality start of the 2021 season, as half of the runs he gave up were unearned. Even so, poor outings and short starts have made Yarbrough a somewhat unreliable presence in the rotation as he owns a 2-3 record with a 4.24 ERA through nine starts. However, his numbers look far better when he pitches in a bulk-inning role (2-0, 1.00 ERA, 2.57 FIP). He is 6-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 13 career outings (five starts) against Toronto.
Ross Stripling allowed six runs on eight hits while striking out three in 3-2/3 innings on Wednesday against Boston. Stripling had a disastrous first inning, as he allowed back-to-back home runs to Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez. Enrique Hernandez represented Stripling’s death-knell when he hit a solo shot in the second. The right-hander hasn’t been able to find a groove this season, performing to a 7.20 ERA, a 1.76 WHIP, and 3.63 K/BB across 25 innings. He is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three career outings (six innings) against the Rays. Key Matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (1-2, 2B), Manuel Margot (6-13, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI), Austin Meadows (1-3), Francisco Mejía (1-4, 2B, RBI), Joey Wendle (1-1)
— The Rays recalled Brent Honeywell Jr. from Triple-A Durham. He fills the active roster spot opened when Louis Head was optioned following Thursday’s game.