Toronto Blue Jays (32-28) at Tampa Bay Rays (40-20)
MLB Baseball: Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 5:00 pm (Tropicana Field)
Matt Shoemaker (0-1) (4.71) vs. Blake Snell (4-2) (3.24)
The Line: Tampa Bay Rays -189 / Toronto Blue Jays +172 --- Over/Under: 7,5 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays meet in game one of their best-of-three AL Wild Card series from Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.
The Toronto Blue Jays will look to make some noise in the postseason after logging their first playoff berth since 2016 with a 32-28 record, just good enough to sneak in at the #8 spot. The Jays started slow, hovering around .500 baseball before rattling off six straight wins to get to 13-11. Things would tighten up as the season went on, with Toronto eventually sitting on a 26-26 record in the heat of the playoff race with over a week to play, But the Jays would go on a 6-2 run down the stretch to earn the spot in the postseason. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led the Jays with a .308 batting average while Teoscar Hernandez had a team-high 16 home runs and Randal Grichuk led the Jays with 35 RBIs. Cavan Biggio led Toronto with a .375 OBP and Gurriel Jr also added a team-high 64 hits for the Jays. Hyun-Jin Ryu proved to be every bit the staff ace that Toronto searched for in the offseason, going 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 67 innings so far this season. Ryu is slated to go in game two though, meaning game one is going to be started by Matt Shoemaker who went 2-0 with a 4.71 ERA this season. In his career, Shoemaker is 4-0 with a 2.56 ERA and 35 strikeouts against Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Rays come in as the top seed in the AL after logging a 40-20 record in the regular season, good enough for the Rays to clinch their first AL East division crown since 2009. Tampa Bay sat at 6-8 through the first two weeks of the season but then a 19-3 run over the next three weeks pushed the Rays to 25-11, in the division lead and slowly the Rays pulled away, including a 9-2 run in the last 11 games to finish at 40 wins on the year. Brandon Lowe was the star slugger for the Rays this season, posting a .269 batting average along with 14 home runs, 37 RBIs and a .362 OBP along with a team-high 52 hits to put the cherry on top. Blake Snell once again provided a punch as part of a strong Rays’ pitching rotation, finishing the year with a 4-2 record and a 3.24 ERA, earning the start in game one here. In his career, Snell is 4-3 with a 2.81 ERA and 80 strikeouts against Toronto.
Toronto is 4-1 in their last 5 games overall and 17-8 in their last 25 series-opening matchups while the under is 5-0 in their last 5 playoff games. Tampa Bay is 40-13 in their last 53 home games and 9-3 in their last 12 games against a left-handed starter while the under is 6-1 in their last 7 games following a win. The over is 3-1-1 in the last 5 meetings between these two teams.
I get why the Rays are favored and it makes sense, and it’s also really tempting to take Toronto and the heavy plus money but this is probably a bullpen game for the Jays. Instead, I’m going to side with the under. Shoemaker, even if he goes just two or three innings, has had success against the Rays in his career, and Blake Snell has solid stuff and has also kept runs at a premium against Toronto. I think we see a low-scoring game to start the series as well, so I’ll side with the under in this one.