Toronto Blue Jays: Wild Card Preview, Breakdown and Prediction

The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays begin their Wild Card match-up later this afternoon, here is a look at how the two squads stack up versus one another.

PREVIEW

The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays have played each other ten times this year with the Rays winning six and the Blue Jays winning four. The key number for the Blue Jays is 6. The Blue Jays have scored at least 6 runs and each of their four wins against the Rays in the regular season. When the Jays have scored less than 6 runs against the Rays, they have lost. For the Blue Jays, the clear key to success in this short series is going to be their hitting. For the Rays, the clear key to success will be their pitching. The Blue Jays offense versus the Rays pitching will likely determine the outcome of this series.

KEYS TO SUCCESS

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Young Stars Hitting

The Jays would not be in the postseason if it were not for the high performance they have gotten from their young stars. With great seasons from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Cavan Biggio, Teoscar Hernandez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Bo Bichette (when healthy), the Blue Jays bats have played a massive role in getting them to where they are today. The Blue Jays finished 12th in team batting average (.255), 8th in team home runs (88), 8th in team RBIs (288), and 10th in team hits (516). Finishing in the top half of the MLB in each team statistical offensive category, the Jays offense will likely be what propels them to a victory if they are able to pull off the upset.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Starting Pitching

The Tampa Bay Rays exceeded expectations in the regular season and a large reason why they were able to do this was due to their outstanding pitching. For this best of 3 series, the Rays will likely send out starting pitchers Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, and Charlie Morton (if necessary). Each of these guys would be the ace of several other teams. The Rays finished second in the MLB in team wins as their pitching was near the top of every statistical category. The Rays finished with the 3rd best team ERA (3.56), 6th most strikeouts (552), and the most saves in all of baseball (23). Overall, the three-headed monster of Snell, Glasnow, and Morton is going to give everything the Jays can handle in a short series.

Pitching wins in the playoffs. We saw this with the Washington Nationals team last year when their three-headed monster of Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin. The Rays have a similar situation this year. These Rays are a real threat to win a world series this year, and much of the reason is because of their phenomenal pitching. I think the Tampa Bay Rays starting pitching is going to be the difference in the series as they are going to make it difficult for this young Toronto Blue Jays offense. I think that the Jays will steal a game, but in the end, the Tampa Bay Rays will come out victorious and advance to the divisional round.

PREDICTION: Rays in 3