Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays
When and Where: Tuesday, Aug. 6, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla., 7:10 p.m. EDT.
Bulk reliever is still a novelty position in baseball, one created last year when the Tampa Bay Rays began experimenting an opener. In some ways, then, it is not surprising that Ryan Yarbrough — the pitcher who coined the term — is one of the most effective bulk relievers in the majors heading into Tuesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jays rookie Thornton again bids to win back-to-back starts for first time
Blue Jays rookie Trent Thornton (4-7, 5.23 ERA) picked up his first win since the All-Star break after beating the Baltimore Orioles for the second time in four starts last time out.
— Jays Journal (@JaysJournal) August 5, 2019
Thornton yielded one run and five hits over six innings Thursday when Baltimore pulled away for an 11-2 victory. This will be the rookie’s fourth straight road start, and he has recorded quality outings on back-to-back occasions just once outside Toronto — on June 16 and 21 at Houston and Boston, respectively.
“He pitched today,” manager Charlie Montoyo told the club’s official website, putting emphasis on pitched. “He wasn’t trying to strike out people. He had command of all his pitches today.”
“When I was with the Astros that [cutter] was part of my bread and butter, and I think a little bit this year I’ve kind of gotten away from it,” Thornton added. “It worked for a reason, and if I can get back to what got me here and what’s worked for me, that thought process, for me, seems a little easier.”
Thornton is making his third start against the Rays, going 0-1 with a 9.39 ERA in the first two after being tagged for eight runs and 15 hits in 7 2-3 innings. The righty did not factor in the decision of a 4-3, 11-inning loss at Tropicana Field on May 29 after yielding three runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Austin Meadows has been an absolute terror to Thornton, going 4 for 4 with a pair of homers while also drawing two walks.
Yarbrough continues to thrive as bulk reliever
Yarbrough (10-3, 4.01) is on schedule to pitch in this game, but the Rays have no official probable starter listed. The expectation is Andrew Kittredge (1-0, 2.52) will be the opener since he throws harder than Yarbrough, who can then keep hitters off-balance with his array of off-speed pitches.
— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) August 1, 2019
The left-hander has a personal seven-game winning streak and also has recorded five wins in his last six appearances as bulk reliever. Yarbrough had to grind out a victory in his last outing, pitching with a lead throughout his 4 1-3 innings as he allowed four runs and six hits — including a pair of solo homers — as the Rays beat the Red Sox 8-5 on Wednesday.
“It’s kind of not how I wanted to finish out the game,” Yarbrough told the Rays’ official website. “But if I can finish like that and we’re still winning ballgames, I feel like we’re putting ourselves in a pretty good position. Not one of my best, but at the same time, just really grinding.”
The southpaw is 8-1 with a 4.03 ERA in 13 overall relief appearances this season and has made Toronto miserable this year with three wins in as many outings. Yarbrough has limited the Blue Jays to one run and six hits in 11 innings in those games and tossed 5 1-3 innings of one-run relief in the most recent outing, a 3-1 road victory July 26.
That is a continuation of Yarbrough thriving in the role against Toronto — he is 5-0 with a 0.86 ERA in six appearances spanning 21 innings. Yarbrough has held Blue Jays hitters to a .162 batting average and 12 hits.
The Blue Jays are:
- 9-23 in their last 32 games following a win.
- 0-6 in Thortnon’s last six starts following a quality start in his previous appearance.
- 1-5 in Thornton’s last six road starts vs. above-.500 teams.
The Rays are:
- 53-22 in their last 75 games when their opponent scores two or fewer runs in the previous game.
- 6-1 in their last seven games vs. right-handed starters.
- 21-9 in their last 30 games vs. the Blue Jays.