Coming into this season, this series between the Rays and the Blue Jays probably didn’t draw a lot of attention from MLB fans. Fifty-ish games into the season, however, that has changed for a couple of different reasons. At 32-19, the Rays are one of the best teams in baseball and hold a 4.5-game lead for the first wild card. While the Jays aren’t attracting a lot of attention for their record, they do have some terrific bright young stars. Cavan Biggio and Vlad Guerrero Jr didn’t start the season in the big leagues, but now that they’re there, their play would indicate they have no intention of going back down.
Tuesday’s game features veteran Clayton Richard going up against Tampa Bay’s opener, Ryne Stanek. Richard is taking the hill for the second time this season after starting the year on the injured list. His first outing was solid if nothing else, as he went four innings and only allowed one run on two hits. Jays fans know that Richard is no barn-burner, though, as his career ERA is 4.45 and his fastball sits right around 90-91 MPH.
But what Richard will do is eat up innings for the Jays. In 2018 he threw almost 160 and the year before that nearly 200. That will be nice for the Jays until top prospects like Nate Pearson are eventually ready to make the move to the big club.
For the Rays, Ryne Stanek has been terrific in the opener role. This will be his 23rd game, 15 of those being starts. In the games that Stanek has started, he has given up just four total runs for a sparkling ERA of 1.64.
Stanek is terrific in this role because he strikes out a ton of batters. His career K% is 30 (THIRTY!) percent and is currently at 27.7% this season. That spells trouble for the Jays as they have one of the highest swinging strike percentages in the league at 12.1%.
Rays Bullpen Day
Once the Jays get through Stanek today, it doesn’t get much easier. The Rays’ bullpen as a whole has a K% of 24.1% and an xFIP of 4.11. They don’t get hit too hard either, with a very solid hard hit percentage, a shade over 36%.
Their bullpen is either average or above average in just about every plate discipline metric as well, swing and misses, as well as swings inside and outside of the zone. Terrible news for the Jays, who make contact at the fifth lowest rate in the league.
This game could be very strikeout-heavy. The Rays have six relievers with double-digit K/9. Players like Danny Jansen, Randal Grichuk, and Freddy Galvis to name a few are in trouble. All of them have a K% over 24%.
This could be very quick and easy for the Rays. Scratch that, this will be very quick and easy for the Rays as they take the second straight from the Jays. Take the Rays in this game but don’t forget to enjoy the beauty that is Vlad Guerrero Jr.
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