Toronto has already clinched a series win over their AL East foe Tampa Bay by taking three of the first four of this five game set. That has helped the home team move 1.5 games ahead in the wild card race heading into the Thursday Rays at Blue Jays matchup.
Tampa Bay has dropped to third place in the race for the postseason, but have a four game over Baltimore for the final spot. The Rays should get a boost from the return of Shane McClanahan to the rotation, but one would think Tampa Bay wants to keep him healthy for the stretch run and won’t overwork him. Oddsmakers have Toronto a -138 favorite for this tilt.
Rays Offense Very Cold
The 4-2 win in Tuesday’s doubleheader opener was the most offense Tampa Bay has put up so fr in this series. They dropped a 3-2 decision on Monday, fell 7-2 in Tuesday’s nightcap, and were 5-1 losers Wednesday as +104 underdogs.
Things likely won’t get much better for TB in the Thursday Rays at Blue Jays matchup against Toronto starter Kevin Gausman who they have scored just 3 runs against in 17 innings this season. Randy Arozarena is 0-6 with 4 K’s vs. the Toronto starter while Wander Franco and Ji-Man Choi are a combined 0-11.
The return of McClanahan (11-5, 2.20 ERA) will help Tampa Bay for the stretch run but it likely won’t pay dividends right away with him almost assuredly on a pitch count in his first start since August 24th after having a shoulder impingement. McClanahan gave up just 1 ER over 7.0 IP in his lone start vs. Toronto this season on July 2nd.
Gausman Should Roll Thursday
While McClanahan returns for Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays send Gausman (12-9, 3.31 ERA) to the mound trying to continue his dominance vs. the Rays. Gausman had an 8 inning 1-hitter vs. the Rays on August 2nd, and gave up 3 ER over 7.0 IP at the Trop back in May. Gausman left a July 2nd start vs. the Rays early after catching a line drive to the ankle.
The Blue Jays are getting hot at the right time going 11-3 so far in September. It certainly helps things that Vlad Guerrero, Jr. had a HR in Wednesday’s win, his first since August 30th. Bo Bichette is on a roll too with a .448 average over the past week so that duo alone could outperform the Tampa Bay on Thursday afternoon.
September 14th Thursday Rays at Blue Jays Free Pick
With a healthy McClanahan this looks like it would be a real pitching duel but he might be capped at 5 innings or less. With Gausman being fairly solid vs. the Rays this season and the Blue Jays winning in 7 of his last 8 starts the value is on the Blue Jays here. Only 42% of the betting public likes Toronto but they are the side to play.
Free Pick: Blue Jays -138