Jays From the Couch has your primer for the Toronto Blue Jays’ final series of the 2019 season as the Tampa Bay Rays
The Blue Jays host the Rays in the final series of the regular season.
The fourth place Jays were eliminated from playoff contention some time ago. The second place Rays, on the other hand, are one of three teams battling for the two AL wild card spots.
Two of Tampa, Oakland and Cleveland will face off in the AL wild card game. One will go home at the end of the season.
At the time of writing, the Rays had only announced one starting pitcher, Tyler Glasnow for the Friday game. Charlie Morton last pitched on the 25th and the Rays have him available to start either the wild card game or a one game playoff if necessary. With an off day on the 26th, the Rays could use any combination of Yonny Chirinos, Blake Snell (recently activated from the IL) and Ryan Yarbrough for the Saturday and Sunday games.
Kevin Cash may decide what to do based on game results up until then, whether the Rays are ahead, tied, or behind in the wild card race.
Friday September 27. 7:07 pm
RHP Glasnow (TB) vs RHP Zeuch (TOR)
Record 6-1. 1.92 era. 2.23 FIP. 0.923 WHIP. 1.9 BB/9. 11.5 K/9.
Glasnow has had an impressive 2019 season when he has been healthy. Unfortunately for him and the Rays, he was on the IL for a majority of the season with forearm tightness and has only pitched in 11 games. The 25 year old is under team control through 2023 and arbitration eligible in 2020. Might the Rays be willing to listen to offers for him rather than pay what is likely to be a healthy raise? Jays fans can only wish.
The Rays have managed Glasnow’s innings since his return from the IL. His last game was September 21 vs the Red Sox. He pitched 3 innings and didn’t allow a run on 2 hits and impressed with no walks and 7 strikeouts. The Jays did reasonably well the last time they faced him on September 8. He lasted 2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 1 hit with 2 walks and 5 strikeouts. They could be in tough against him on Friday.
Record 1-1. 4.58. 3.50 FIP. 1.472 WHIP. 4.1 BB/9. 8.2 K/9.
Zeuch has had a decent start to his MLB career overall in four games to date. His era isn’t anything to get excited about but his FIP is a very respectable 3.50, again drawing attention to the fact that the Blue Jays need to improve their team defence in order to move forward.
One thing for the Jays to keep an eye on as they assess in house talent for the future is Zeuch’s walk rate. In addition to an above average fast ball, he has had good pitch command throughout his MiLB career. In four minor league seasons, his walk rate was a very good 2.6/9 innings pitched. He will need to cut down on the free passes to succeed in the majors.
Zeuch has had some tough competition so far in the big leagues, facing first place teams Atlanta, the Yankees twice and the Red Sox who, in spite of missing the playoffs in 2019, had no problem scoring runs. Zeuch’s last game was September 21 vs the Bronx bombers. He pitched 4 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits. His command was better than it had been, he didn’t walk anyone and struck out 6.
Zeuch has never faced the Rays. He will look to finish the 2019 season strong and leave a positive impression to compete for a spot on the 2020 roster.
Saturday September 28. 3:07 pm
TBD (TB) vs RHP Thornton (TOR)
Record 5-9. 5.00 era. 4.67 FIP. 1.420 WHIP. 3.4 BB/9. 8.5 K/9.
Thornton’s rookie season has been a mixed bag. At times he has pitched quite well, at other times, not so well. He is currently enjoying his best month to date in MLB with a 2.75 era in four starts. Thornton credits veteran teammate Clay Buchholz for teaching him some different pitching grips for some of his recent success.
Thornton’s last appearance came September 22 vs the Yankees. He pitched 5 innings, giving up 4 ER on 5 hits with no walks and 3 strikeouts. His last game against Tampa Bay came September 5th when he pitched 4.2 innings and gave up 3 runs but only 1 earned on 4 hits with 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. He will hope for a strong finish to his rookie campaign vs the contending Rays.
Sunday September 29. 3:07 pm
TBD (TB) vs Buchholz (TOR)
Record 1-5. 7.00 era. 5.78 FIP. 1.537 WHIP. 2.5 BB/9. 5.5 K/9.
Buchholz has had an up and down season with the Jays in 2019. His first start of the season was quite good as were his first two starts after spending more than three months on the IL. But then he has gotten progressively worse. His era in four September starts is a whopping 10.19. One has to wonder how much the 35 year old veteran has left in the tank at this point.
Buchholz last start came back on September 23 vs the Baltimore Orioles. He only lasted 4 innings, giving up 6 runs on 6 hits, 3 of them long balls. He also walked 3 and struck out 4.
His last game against the Rays was on September 6. He pitched 6 innings on that day, giving up 4 runs, 3 earned on 7 hits with no walks and 3 strikeouts. Given he recent performances and the likelihood that the Rays could be in wild card contention right down to the final game of the season, I’m not expecting a great deal from Buchholz unfortunately.
The Rays are fighting for a spot in October. As much as the Jays young players have given the fan base hope for the future, in 2019 Tampa Bay is clearly the better team. They will win this series 2-1 and take on the Oakland A’s in the wild card game.
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