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North And South Clash – Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays Wild Card Preview
Photo Courtesy of The Toronto Star

North And South Clash – Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays Wild Card Preview

There was a lot of uncertainty at the start of the season for the Toronto Blue Jays with the Corona virus essentially cancelling baseball in Canada. But, like their season they found a way to make things happen and are now squarely in contention for a magical run. Ace starter Hyun Jin Ryu and company are primed to put a halt to anyone or anything that looks to stop their season.

The Tampa Bay Rays are maybe the most consistent team in the MLB and for good reason. Batter extraordinaire Brandon Lowe has lead by example and made this Rays team the best in the AL. Tampa may want to change their team name to the Lasers because that’s just how focused they are going into these playoffs.

 

By The Numbers:

Toronto Blue Jays (32-28) Tampa Bay Rays (40-20)
88 Home runs (8) 80 Home runs (14)
.255 Batting Avg (12) .238 Batting Avg (21)
4.60 ERA (17) 3.56 ERA (3)
.255 Opp Batting Avg (23) .238 Opp Batting Avg (12)

 

The numbers say that the Blue Jays should run away with this series, but that’s why numbers without context are useless. Toronto is a great hitting team that struggles to keep teams off the scoresheet: if they hope to oust Tampa they will need to rally behind their bullpen or run them out of the park. Neither will be easy.

Tampa is underwhelming to say the least, but they can score in bunches over long stretches. They go against the conventional wisdom of “big offense/stingy defense” and lull you to sleep with consistent hits. If the Rays control the bases and get multiple RBIs from their rotation this will be an easy win for them.

 

Key Players: 

Rays: Manuel Margot, Center Fielder

2020 Stats: .269 BA – 11 RBI – 12 Stolen Bases

Margot’s ability to not only hit at a high clip but steal bases as well once he is on may be the most valuable piece for Tampa Bay. If he can get on base and steal, the Rays’ offense will be overwhelming.

 

Blue Jays: Jonathan Villar, Second Baseman

2020 Stats: .232 BA – 15 RBI – 15 Stolen Bases

Copy and paste everything about Manuel Margot and then multiply it by two and you get Jonathan Villar. They are literally carbon copies of each other, with Villar having more lively legs on base. He will be key to matching the Rays’ offense for the Blue Jays.

 

Prediction:

Rays over Blue Jays

The Rays’ consistency will be too much for the Blue Jays to overcome. The Blue Jays will give them a run for their money but the Rays will come out on top here.

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