The Blue Jays turn to Kevin Gausman with their season on the line
Yesterday was an exciting day for the Blue Jays, with postseason baseball returning to the Rogers Centre for the first time since 2016. The Jays sent Alek Manoah to the mound while the Seattle Mariners countered with trade deadline acquisition Luis Castillo in a pitching duel that was sure to satisfy any baseball fan.
Fast forward to the end of the game and the mood in Jays nation had shifted, as the Mariners tagged Manoah for four earned runs through 5.2 innings and Castillo was absolutely dominant on the mound, going 7.1 innings while striking out five batters with zero earned runs. They followed him with reliever Andrés Muñoz, who finished the game and touched 103 MPH on the radar gun. The Jays mustered seven hits but struggled against Castillo, with Guerrero, Hernandez, Tapia, and Jansen going hitless on the day while the batting order left nine men on base.
Overall, the wind left the Rogers Centre pretty quickly when the Mariners put three runs on the board in the first inning and the Jays walked away with the loss and their playoff aspirations on the ropes. They will now need to win the next two games to avoid elimination.
Blue Jays turn to Kevin Gausman in Wild Card Game #2
Heading into game #1, the Blue Jays had not announced a starter for today’s affair but with their season on the line, manager John Schneider has tabbed Kevin Gausman to start in the do-or-die game.
Speaking to reporters after last night’s game, Schneider has confidence in the Colorado product, “Turning to a guy like him in a must-win game is something we feel really good about… He’s been a leader in the clubhouse, a leader of the staff. He has had an amazing year, so we’re looking for just another quality outing from him.”
Joining the Blue Jays this past offseason on a five-year deal, Gausman had a great season, posting a 3.35 ERA through 174.2 innings with a 10.6 K/9. The right-hander authored a 5.7 fWAR on the year and was one of the bright spots on the Jays’ rotation alongside Manoah and Ross Stripling.
Gausman has limited experience in the postseason, reaching the ALDS with the Baltimore Orioles back in 2014, the NLDS with the Atlanta Braves in 2018, and in the NLDS with the San Francisco Giants last year, starting one game and finishing another, allowing four hits and four earned runs through 6.0 innings combined while striking out seven. He was also in Toronto when Edwin Encarnacion hit the Wild Card walk-off home run against the Orioles back in 2016 but did not pitch that day.
This year, Gausman faced the Mariners just once back in mid-May and allowed seven hits through five innings, earning the loss while allowing two earned runs and one home run compared to three strikeouts while the Jays bats could muster only one run on the day. He will be facing a bit of a different lineup compared to the Mariners squad he faced back in May, as injuries to Sam Haggerty and Jesse Winker along with the return of Mitch Haniger and the acquisition of Carlos Santana will present new challenges for the Blue Jays starter.
Robbie Ray returns to Toronto
Opposite Gausman will be Robbie Ray, a former Blue Jay who captured the 2021 AL Cy Young last year as a member of the Jays rotation. He finished the year with a 3.71 ERA through 32 games and like Gausman, as just one start against the other team, facing the Jays back in mid-July and going 6.0 innings while allowing just three hits and one earned run with six strikeouts.
The Blue Jays’ playoff hopes are on the line and the test will not be easy with Robbie Ray on the mound tomorrow. The hope will be that Gausman can start strong early and the Blue Jays bats can provide him with some support early, otherwise, it could be an early exit for Toronto this October.