Rays vs Blue Jays Preview: Toronto Still Battling for Wild Card Berth

Tampa Bay Settles for Wild Card Spot After Baltimore Clinches

The Tampa Bay Rays visit the Toronto Blue Jays for the final three games of the regular season beginning Friday. The Rays find themselves in a tough spot. These three games are meaningless from their standpoint. But with Toronto still fighting against Houston and Seattle for a wild card berth, it goes against the unwritten rule to rest all your starters when playing in a game with playoff implications. The Rays vs Blue Jays preview has Aaron Civale and Yusei Kikuchi as the scheduled starters for Friday’s opening game of the series.

Friday’s game is also tough for the sportsbook. The Rays could rest one or two starters and pull Civale early, both of which would favor Toronto. So, it’s done the next best thing and priced Toronto a bit higher than the Jays would be in a normal game situation. The Blue Jays are -145 and the total on the game is 7.5-over (-115).

Rays logo Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays standings show the team at 97-62. With Baltimore clinching the AL East Thursday night, the Rays are locked into the No. 1 wild card spot. While the Rays cooled off some after their quick start to the season, they’ve still been a solid team during the year.

Tampa Bay is No. 5 in team ERA, although the bullpen could have been a little better. The Rays converted 45 of 76 save opportunities.

Offensively, Tampa Bay is No. 4 in team batting average and in runs scored. The Rays are No. 6 in home runs, so the team can hit for average with decent power.

The Rays were 53-28 at home during the season and bring a 44-34 road record into the series with the Blue Jays.

Blue Jays logo Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are going to finish the regular season with a better road record than home record. Toronto was 46-35 away from home and is 42-36 at home entering the final series of the season. The Blue Jays’ strength this season has been the pitching staff, which is No. 2 in team ERA and Toronto has converted 51 of 69 save opportunities. If the Blue Jays lead after seven innings, it will be tough to come back on them.

The Blue Jays aren’t bad offensively. They’re not particularly good, either. Toronto is No. 16 in team batting average and runs scored, so it’s basically an average team offensively. But with a pitching staff as good as the Blue Jays, that’s good enough.

Friday’s Game

The Blue Jays will enter the game with a one-game lead over Houston and a two-game lead over Seattle for the No. 2 wild card spot. Toronto holds its fate in its hands, as do the Astros. It’s Seattle that will be watching the scoreboard.

Civale is 7-4 with a 3.43 ERA for the season. Tampa Bay has gone 6-3 in the games he started since being acquired from Cleveland. Kikuchi is 10-6 with a 3.82 ERA for the Blue Jays. Toronto has gone 20-11 in the games he started this season and 9-5 at home. The price is a bit on the high side, but the Blue Jays are probably the way you want to go here.

Saturday’s Game

The Rays vs Blue Jays preview is showing neither team has officially named a starter for Saturday. That’s to be expected. Both are waiting for Friday’s games to be in the books before determining their plans for the game. If Toronto clinches a wild card spot, both teams could play all subs and use starters not expected to see significant action in the postseason. If Seattle is still alive, it could be business as usual.

Zack Littell would be up in Tampa Bay’s rotation and he hasn’t been bad this season, going 3-6 with a 3.86 ERA in his time between the bullpen and the starting rotation. He has stretched out and can now go seven or eight innings if needed.

Hyun Jin Ryu would be up for the Blue Jays, but nothing is set in stone. Ryu has pitched well in his 10 games since coming off the disabled list. He’s 3-3 with a 3.31 ERA. But don’t expect to see the baseball lines released for this game until Saturday.

Sunday’s Game

The Rays vs Blue Jays preview shows it’s more of the same regarding starting pitchers on Sunday. If the game is meaningful, you could see Kevin Gausman for Toronto and Taj Bradley for Tampa Bay. If the contest holds no bearing on the wild card race, the teams could elect to use one of their September call-ups on the mound and even more out in the field.

This is probably the least favorite day of the season for the sportsbook. It has to decipher all of the MLB scores and odds and try to figure out which teams are fielding their best line-ups, as well as those playing all rookies.

Gausman will be a good-priced favorite if he goes and the Blue Jays have to win the game for the playoffs.

For MLB stats leaders, Rays vs Blue Jays odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.

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