With 19 games remaining in the regular season Tampa Bay has an eight-game lead over the second-place Toronto Blue Jays but must be feeling the pressure as just last week the Blue Jays were 12 games back. Tampa Bay has lost two straight after falling to Toronto 8-1 in the first game of their series on Monday. Tampa Bay will play without position player Wander Franco and 16 pitchers. Brandon Lowe is questionable.
Toronto is on fire as the Blue Jays have won four straight and 12 of the last 13. Toronto has passed Boston and New York to move into second place in the American League East and more importantly the Blue Jays now hold the first spot in the American League wild-card chase one game ahead of both the Red Sox and Yankees. In Toronto's victory on Monday over Tampa Bay, Vladimir Guerrero Jr hit his 45th home run which leads the Majors. Toronto will play without position players Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal, while three pitchers are on the injured list.
Tampa Bay struggling during final Month of the seasonTampa Bay is first in the American League East but the Rays have lost four of the last five and are beginning to struggle at the plate. Tampa Bay is now 13th in team batting average at .241, 7th in team slugging percentage at .427 and has scored the most runs in baseball with 776. However, over the last five games in which Tampa Bay lost four, Tampa Bay scored an average of only 4.00 runs per game, while during the regular season they have scored an average of 5.39 runs per game. Brandon Lowe, who is questionable Wednesday, has 33 home runs to lead Tampa Bay and Austin Meadows has 99 RBIs to lead the Rays. Meadows is second in home runs with 25.
Tampa Bay Rays pitching has been its strength all season and the Rays are eighth in team ERA at 3.81, fifth in WHIP at 1.20 and opposing hitters are averaging only .237 at the plate against Tampa Bay pitching which is 12th. Josh Fleming has 10 victories to lead Tampa Bay and Shane McClanahan has a team best 128 strikeouts. Getting the nod on the mound Wednesday for Tampa Bay will be Michael Wacha. The veteran right-hander is 3-4 with a 5.37 ERA and 104 strikeouts.
Blue Jays powering their way to the postseasonToronto has used power to move into first place in the American League wild card chase. The Blue Jays are first in team slugging percentage at .467, second in team batting average at .268, which has produced the second most runs with 765. Vladimir Guerrero Jr has 45 home runs and 103 RBIs to lead Toronto. Guerrero is first in the majors in home runs and tied for third in RBIs. The Blue Jays have 7 players with 17 home runs or more, six players with 80 RBIs or more and two (Guerrero, Teoscar Hernandez) have over 100 RBIs.
Toronto's pitching has also improved as the season has approached its conclusion. The Blue Jays team ERA is 11th best in baseball at 3.87 while its WHIP is 10th at 1.23 and opposing hitters are averaging .236 at the plate against Toronto pitching which is 11th best. Hyun Jin Ryu is the leader in victories with 13, while Wednesday’s starter Robbie Ray has the most strikeouts with 220. Overall this season, Ray is 11-5 with a 2.69 ERA.
- Toronto is 5-0 in the last five at home
- The Blue Jays are 9-1 in the last 10 against a right-handed starter
- Tampa Bay is 1-4 in the last five on the road