Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (90-69) at Toronto Blue Jays (72-87)


Sep 22, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Can you hear that? It sounds like the creaking of the door finally shutting on the 2013 season for the Toronto Blue Jays. It is a merciful sound, is it not?

A year that was at one point so filled with promise, now mercifully comes to an end for a team that by far failed to live up to expectations. Instead of October baseball, the member of the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays will be nursing injuries and getting their golf clubs ready for a long winter off.

But before we get to the offseason, we have one more opponent to go through, and as luck would have it, it is a familiar one that epitomizes the 2013 Blue Jays struggles; the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa has held onto its domination of Toronto once again, sitting on a 10-6 record against the Blue Jays this season. However, Tampa needs a win in order to guarantee a spot in the postseason. Can the Triple-A Jays play the spoiler one last time?

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: R.A. Dickey (13-13, 4.27 ERA) vs Jeremy Hellickson (12-9, 5.16 ERA)

This represents Dickey’s final start of the season, and it is somewhat fitting that he will also be vying for a shot at a winning record on the year. He’s been solid against the Rays this season, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.00 ERA over 5 starts, including a 2-hit shut-out against Tampa on June 26th.

He’ll be opposed by Jeremy Hellickson, who has struggled immensely in 2013, including a demotion to right himself at the end of August. His 3 starts and 1 relief appearance since have not been much better, with the righty posting a 2-1 record and a 4.60 ERA. However, he is 2-0 with a 2.90 ERA in 5 starts against the Blue Jays this season.

Game 2: J.A. Happ (4-7, 4.85 ERA) vs Chris Archer (9-7, 3.21 ERA)

It’s somewhat ironic that Happ’s season will end against the very team that nearly ended it on May 7th when a Desmond Jennings liner to the side of Happ’s head kept him out through the beginning of August. Happ has turned it around a bit in September, posting a 1-3 record, but a solid 3.46 ERA and nearly a strike-out per inning.

He’ll be opposed by Rookie of the Year candidate Chris Archer. Archer has been strong all season, but after 22 starts, he appears to be getting a bit tired. In five September starts, Archer is rocking a 5.20 ERA and is lasting less than 5 innings per start.

Game 3: Todd Redmond (4-2, 3.77 ERA) vs Matt Moore (16-4, 3.23 ERA)

Pinch me if I’m wrong, but I imagine there were very few people back in April that thought Todd Redmond would be starting the final game of the Blue Jays season. Still, he’s proven servicable in small doses and has been an efficient starter for the Blue Jays down the stretch. He may well earn himself a role with the team in 2014, but that remains to be seen.

As of right now, he’ll be opposed by Matt Moore, who boasts a studly 16-4 mark with a 3.23 ERA and a 8.6 K/9 ratio. However, if Tampa clinches a playoff spot before this game, it would be doubtful if we see him pencilled in to start when Sunday rolls around, as Joe Maddon will likely hold him back for the Wild Card game instead.

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays
1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. DH: Munenori Kawasaki
3. 3B: Brett Lawrie
4. 1B: Adam Lind
5. RF: Moises Sierra
6. CF: Anthony Gose
7. C: J.P. Arencibia
8. 2B: Ryan Goins
9. LF: Kevin Pillar

Tampa Bay Rays
1. 2B: Ben Zobrist
2. RF: Wil Myers
3. 1B: James Loney
4. 3B: Evan Longoria
5. RF: Nick Markakis
6. CF: David DeJesus
7. DH: Delmon Young
8. SS: Yunel Escobar
9. C: Jose Lobatan

Worth the Price of Admission:

Since September 10th, Anthony Gose has given Blue Jays fans a glimpse of his potential as a prospect. He’s hit a much better .283 with a .811 OPS (6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs) in that span. However, noticeably absent from his game since his September call-up, is the stolen base. He’s failed to steal a single base this month, being caught twice. This may be the series he breaks that streak.

Worth the Price of Antacid:

Toronto Blue Jays pitchers have given up the 8th most home runs during the month of September, surrendering 25 this month. It is also worth noting that Rogers Centre is ranked second (tied with Cincinnati) in home run park factor. So, if you’re looking to get a ball, sitting in the outfield seats may not be a bad spot to be this weekend. However, if you don’t want to see the Blue Jays give them up, you may want to bring your Tums along.

Final Word