Toronto Blue Jays: Jays vs. Rays, this should be fun

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 23: Cavan Biggio #8 of the Toronto Blue Jays slides in with a double as Joey Wendle #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays awaits a throw in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Tropicana Field on August 23, 2020 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 23: Cavan Biggio #8 of the Toronto Blue Jays slides in with a double as Joey Wendle #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays awaits a throw in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Tropicana Field on August 23, 2020 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /

The Blue Jays and Rays are set to face off in one of the league’s first-ever three-game wild card series; here’s a breakdown of how these teams matchup.

C Danny Jansen – .183/.313/.358/.671  6 HR 22 RBI

C Mike Zunino – .147/.238/.360/.598  4 HR 10 RBI

Danny Jansen has had another disappointing year at the plate and has had problems at times with throwing out runners, but Mike Zunino has been marginally worse. Jansen has done a nice job handling the pitching staff this year, a big reason he hasn’t seen his playing time cut dramatically with the emergence of Alejandro Kirk. Kirk should certainly see some at-bats against lefties in this series either at catcher or DH, but Jansen will be their guy. If he can come up with a couple of big hits in the series and anchor the staff, he will prove more valuable than Zunino.

Advantage: Jays 

1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – .262/.329/.462/.791  9 HR 33 RBI

1B Nate Lowe – .206/.306/.429/.734  4 HR 11 RBI

Don’t tell anyone but Vladdy is hot. He’s been swinging the bat exceptionally well of late and while he is still a liability in the field, he has made some modest improvements. Ultimately the Rays will have multiple players playing at first throughout the series, but few of their options provide the kind of presence that Guerrero does in the middle of the Blue Jays lineup when he’s rolling.

Advantage: Jays

2B Jonathan Villar – .232/.301/.292/.593  2 HR 15 RBI

2B Brandon Lowe – .274/.364/.563/.927  14 HR 37 RBI

Villar hasn’t put up the type of offensive numbers that a lot of us had hoped he would when the Jays picked him up at the deadline, but he has still proven to be a valuable asset to a team that has been atrocious on the basepaths this year. He will spend most of his time at second, especially against left-handed pitching, but we could see him assume a pinch-running role late in games if he’s not in the starting lineup. With that said, Brandon Lowe is one of the Rays’ most potent bats and has the edge over Villar on both sides of the ball.

Advantage: Rays

SS Bo Bichette – .301/.328/.512/.840  5 HR 23 RBI

SS Willy Adames – .259/.332/.481/.813  8 HR 23 RBI

Willy Adames is one of the Rays’ X-factors in this series; if he outplays Bo Bichette the Jays are going to have a problem. Bo is the Jays’ best player when healthy and hasn’t missed a beat since coming off the IL. As important as Adames is to the Rays club, when Bichettte’s hot he’s a scary sight for opposing pitchers and ultimately gets the edge over Willy for me.

Advantage: Jays

3B Cavan Biggio – .250/.375/.432/.807  8 HR 28 RBI

3B Yandy Diaz – .307/.428/.386/.814  2 HR 11 RBI

Diaz is a solid bat in the Rays’ lineup and has put up some great numbers this year in 34 games. He can play multiple positions giving Kevin Cash some options if Diaz is indeed healthy enough to play. Biggio has had a solid campaign and the versatility he brings on the defensive side of the ball again, gives Montoyo a lot of options for the series. Biggio has been consistent at the plate all year, getting on base and providing some pop at the top of the lineup, while Diaz hasn’t had the benefit of a full season under his belt. In a three-game series, having regular at-bats in the last few weeks is a significant advantage as Diaz will have to work to get his timing back. Yandy’s numbers are better this year, but considering his recent trip to the IL, Biggio will be the more valuable player in the series.

Advantage: Jays

LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – .308/.348/.534/.882  11 HR 33 RBI

LF Randy Arozarena – .281/.382/.641/1.022 7 HR 11 RBI

Gurriel has been tearing the cover off the ball lately and has made some highlight-reel catches in left field over the last couple of weeks. He is definitely not a plus defender in left, but it is reassuring to see him playing well out there right before the playoffs, when defence is vital to winning games. Arozarena has been a nice surprise for the Rays this year, putting up some great numbers in limited at-bats and most likely winning himself a spot in the Rays lineup with Hunter Renfroe having a brutal year. In spite of his impressive September, Gurriel is just as hot and is the better player, at least for the time being. He gets the edge in this one.

Advantage:  Jays

CF Randal Grichuk – .273/.312/.481/.793  12 HR 35 RBI

CF Kevin Kiermaier – .217/.321/.362/.683  3 HR 22 RBI

Randal Grichuk has had a bounce-back year with the bat while playing the majority of games in centre field for the Jays. He has been in a bit of a skid recently, but still provides some pop in the middle of the lineup while playing a decent centre field. Kiermiar, on the other hand, has had a down year at the plate, but as always, he is playing platinum glove defence in centre. Given the dynamic of this three-game series, defence will play a big factor in the outcome of these games, especially if you look at how close these two teams games have been this year. Kiermaeir gets the nod in this one.

Advantage: Rays 

RF Teoscar Hernandez – .289/.340/.579/.919  16 HR 34 RBI

RF Manuel Margot – .289/.327/.352/.679  1 HR 11 RBI

Teoscar Hernandez has been the MVP for the Jays’ this season in my mind. He has shown the consistency and plate discipline that fans have been waiting on for years and the results have been promising to say the least. He’s healthy and will be one of the most important players for the Jays in this series. Margot’s slash line is certainly nothing to scoff at, but Teo’s got the lock in this one.

Advantage: Jays

DH Alejandro Kirk / – .375/.400/.583/.983  1 HR 3 RBI

DH Travis Shaw – .239/.306/.411/.717 6 HR 17 RBI

DH Mike Brosseau – .293/.372/.537/.909  5 HR 11 RBI

DH Austin Meadows – .205/.296/.371/.667  4 HR 13 RBI

Kirk has been exciting to watch since he made his debut, not having had an at-bat above A-ball, and could provide an offensive boost at DH or catcher. Shaw on the other hand has had a lacklustre year, but will still see a good amount of at-bats against Glasnow and Morton if necessary as well as the bullpen arms. Meadows, if healthy, could be a problem for the Jays if he can turn it around, while Brosseau has been solid all year putting up some surprising numbers at the plate. It’s a coin flip but this one’s going to the Rays.

Advantage: Rays 

SP Hyun Jin Ryu – 2.69 ERA, 67IP, 72 SO, OPPAVG .234, WHIP 1.15

SP Taijuan Walker – 2.70 ERA, 53.1IP, 50 SO, OPPAVG .214, WHIP 1.16

SP Matt Shoemaker – 4.71 ERA, 28.2IP, 26 SO, OPPAVG .210, WHIP 1.08

SP Blake Snell – 3.24 ERA, 50IP, 63SO ,1.20WHIP

SP Tyler Glasnow – 4.08 ERA, 57.1IP, 91 SO, 1.134WHIP

SP Charlie Morton – 4.74ERA, 38IP, 42 SO, 1.395WHIP

Ryu has been dynamite for the Blue Jays this year and could very well be the runner up for the Cy Young award. Walker has been one of the best pitchers in the AL since arriving in Toronto and has shown his ability to pitch effectively against good lineups. Shoemaker spent most of the season on the IL, and if I’m being honest I’m shocked he will be pitching Game 1 of this series. The Rays rotation is star-studded with three top of the line starters in Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton set to go against the Jays this week. Although I think Ryu is probably the best starter in this series, the Rays depth gives them the edge in this one.

Advantage: Rays 

Jays Bullpen:

Anthony Bass – 3.51 ERA,7.4 SO/9, 7 S, 1.013 WHIP

Rafael Dolis – 1.50 ERA, 11.6 SO/9, 5 S, 1.250 WHIP

Nate Pearson – 6.00 ERA, 8 SO/9, 1.500 WHIP

Rays Bullpen:

Nick Anderson – 0.55 ERA,14.3 SO/9, 6S, 0.490 WHIP

Pete Fairbanks – 2.70 ERA, 13.2 SO/9, 1.380 WHIP

Diego Castillo – 1.66 ERA, 9.6 SO/9, 1.062 WHIP

Anthony Bass has put together a very solid campaign and although he may not be the closer, he will receive high leverage innings in this series. Dolis is going to be the Jays closer for the rest of the playoffs if he continues to pitch the way he has, and deservingly so. Pearson’s going to be interesting to watch come out of the pen; his high velocity and wipeout slider make him an intriguing arm for Montoyo, but his lack of innings in 2020 make him a bit of a wild card. The rest of the Jays bullpen arms will need to pitch above expectations to even compete with Tampa. The Rays…do I even need to say anything? Nick Anderson is the best reliever in baseball right now and their the 3rd best bullpen in the league in terms of ERA this year. It’s not even close.

Advantage: Rays 


Jonathan Davis will be the guy to watch off the bench for the Jays. He might get some at-bats late in games but will mostly be an effective defensive replacement and a burner on the bases. Joe Panik brings the most postseason experience to this team by a long shot; even if he doesn’t play a whole lot, his presence in the dugout will be appreciated. Espinal likely won’t see the field in a three-game series, but does give the Jays some options off the bench. The Rays have a few decent options on the bench in Yoshi Tsutsugo, Hunter Renfroe and Brett Phillips, all of who have shown flashes of plus offence, but none of them have put together good seasons. The Rays bench will likely change as the series goes on, but for the most part these are the guys you’ll see pinch-hitting late in games.  This one’s another coin flip but Davis’ speed and recent success give the Jays the edge in this one.

Advantage: Jays

Next. The playoff rotation is a confusing choice. dark

Prediction: The Rays are a force to be reckoned with but the Jays have been their fiercest competitor this year. This ones going to be close, but I’ve got the Jays in three.