After taking two of three from the Angels, the Tampa Bay Rays will cap their final regular season home stand with a three-game set against the Blue Jays, starting Friday. Toronto most recently took two of three from the Yankees.
At 94-60 on the season, the Rays enter play 34 games above .500 with eight games left to play. They will try to create a little more distance between themselves and the third-place Blue Jays over the weekend.
The Rays locked up a playoff berth last weekend, while the Blue Jays have a 90.6% chance of securing a Wildcard spot. Toronto needs wins more than Tampa Bay, although the Rays are still competing for an AL East championship since they enter play 1.5 games back of the first-place Orioles (hey, thanks Cleveland).
The Rays’ offense has fallen off since the final two games of their series against Baltimore, with the team slashing a combined .227 BA/.281 OBP/.396 SLG/.677 OPS with a 88 wRC+. Unfortunately, Luke Raley has been out the last few games due to an unfortunate collision during batting practice a few days back. This, after he put up a 218 wRC+ in the days prior to the injury. It isn’t entirely clear whether he’ll be placed on the IL with 10 games left to play, or if Kevin Cash will unofficially sit him out for a few games while he is on the mend. In the meantime, they will rely on Yandy Díaz (125 wRC+ over the last seven days), Harold Ramírez (123 wRC+ over the last seven days), Randy Arozarena (112 wRC+ over the last seven days), and Manuel Margot 106 wRC+ over the last seven days) and hope for bounce-back performances from Brandon Lowe, Josh Lowe, and Isaac Paredes who haven’t been as productive as they could or should be the last week.
While the Blue Jays have won five of their last six contests, this followed a series sweep at the hands of a Rangers team that is hot on their heels. Nevertheless, iff Tampa Bay has been tepid over the last seven days, Toronto has been, uhh…not so good. The Blue Jays have slashed a combined .203 BA/.280 OBP/.357 SLG/.637 OPS over that stretch with a 75 wRC+. It’s not certain when Vladdy Jr. will return to the lineup given that he is listed as day-t0-day due to knee inflammation.
The Rays enter play with an overall 3.79 ERA and 3.78 FIP (3.88 ERA and 3.63 FIP for the starters, 3.68 ERA, and 3.97 FIP for the relievers). Over the last seven days, Tampa Bay has put up a decent 4.12 ERA and 3.29 FIP (albeit with an ugly 5.65 ERA and 3.99 FIP for the starters, and a regressed 2.42 ERA and a 2.53 FIP for the relievers).
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays pitching staff has put up a solid 3.71 ERA and 4.06 FIP on the season (3.75 ERA and 4.15 FIP for the starters, 3.65 ERA, and 3.91 FIP for the relievers). Those numbers are even better over the last seven days, pitching to a combined 2.33 ERA and a 3.40 FIP (1.83 ERA and a 3.55 FIP for the starters, 3.04 ERA and a 3.17 FIP for the relievers).
Tampa Bay is 4-3 against Toronto this season, but with a -9 run differential.
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will turn to Tyler Gasnow (9-6, 3.53 ERA, 3.04 FIP), Zack Littell (3-6, 4.12 ERA, 4.05 FIP), and Taj Bradley (5-7, 5.36 ERA, 4.58 FIP). John Schneider will counter with Chris Bassitt (14-8, 3.78 ERA, 4.49 FIP), Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-3, 2.62 ERA, 4.18 FIP), and Yusei Kikuchi (10-6, 3.74 ERA, 4.19 FIP).
Tyler Glasnow allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks over four innings against the Orioles on Saturday. He struck out four. Glasnow turned in his worst performance of the season, tying his season worsts in earned runs allowed and strikeouts while failing to go deeper than four frames for the first time all season. He was also tagged for a two-run home run in the second inning by Gunnar Henderson. Glasnow has allowed four or more runs in back-to-back appearances. All told, the right-hander maintains a 3.53 ERA and a 3.04 FIP, with a 1.09 WHIP, and a 4.56 K/BB across 109.2 innings.
Chris Bassitt allowed two runs on four hits and three walks over seven innings against Boston. He struck out five. Bassitt got off to a strong start, retiring the first 11 batters, although Toronto failed to back him with any run support. The only two runs against him came via a home run off of the bat of Rafael Devers in the top of the sixth inning which followed a walk to Wilyer Abreu to open the frame. Bassitt has now gone at least seven innings in three of his last four starts, posting a 2.57 K/BB over that stretch. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (2-6, 2B, HR, RBI), Manuel Margot (1-2, BB), Isaac Paredes (1-3, RBI)
Zack Littell allowed one run on four hits over 4.2 innings against the Orioles. He struck out three. After pitching eight and seven innings, respectively, in his previous two starts, Littell only made it through 4.2 frames Sunday, departing after throwing just 55 pitches. Whatever the case, he has looked good of late, working to a 2.29 ERA while issuing just one walk in his last three turns (19.2 innings). Overall, Littell is 3-6 with a 4.12 ERA and a 4.05 FIP, with a 1.14 WHIP, and a 7.44 K/BB through 83 innings this season.
Hyun-Jin Ryu surrendered six hits and two walks over 4.2 scoreless frames against Boston. He struck out two. Ryu held the Red Sox off the board Sunday, although he wasn’t able to make it through the fifth inning after throwing an inefficient 83 pitches. While Toronto continues to monitor the left-hander’s pitch count, Ryu’s provided a steadying presence in the rotation since returning from Tommy John surgery in early August, going 3-3 with a 2.62 ERA and a 4.18 FIP in nine starts (44.2 innings). Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (4-8, 2B, BB), Christian Bethancourt (1-2, 2B, RBI), Manuel Margot (6-21, 3 RBI), Harold Ramírez (4-8, 2 2B, RBI, 2 BB), Taylor Walls (1-4)
Taj Bradley allowed one run on three hits and one walk over five innings against the Angels. He struck out six. The right-hander retired 11 of the first 13 batters Tuesday before Logan O’Hoppe ripped a fourth-inning solo homer against the hurler. In four starts since being recalled from Triple-A on September 3, Bradley has posted a 4.29 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP, and a 2.72 K/BB across 21 frames, while six of his 10 earned runs during that stretch came on solo homers.
Yusei Kikuchi departed early from his last start, on Tuesday, because of a left upper trap muscle cramp. It doesn’t appear to be much of a concern. The 32-year-old southpaw maintains a solid 3.74 ERA and a 4.19 FIP, with a 3.70 K/BB across 158.2 innings (30 starts) this season with Toronto. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (4-16, HR, RBI, BB), Christian Bethancourt (2-4, RBI), Manuel Margot (4-13, 3B, RBI, BB), Rene Pinto (1-1), Harold Ramírez (3-11, BB)
— The Rays are expected to call up top infield prospect Junior Caminero. Caminero, 20, will make the leap from AA, where he was slashing .309 BA/.373 OBP/.548 SLG/.921 OPS with 20 HR, a 140 wRC+, and a .239 ISO across 314 at-bats. Caminero is not only a power threat, but his bat-to-ball skills are impeccable, with the infielder putting up just a 17.1% strikeout rate on the season. He has played at first base, third base, and shortstop, although he will likely see the most playing time at short where he has accumulated 147.1 innings on the season.