With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, Toronto remains in the thick of a heated AL East race with an 83-65 overall record. While Tampa Bay owns a commanding 7.5 game division lead with a 92-57 overall record, three other teams (Boston, New York, and Toronto) are all vying for the AL’s final two postseason spots. The Blue Jays enter play on Sunday with a slim half-game advantage over the New York Yankees for the final Wild Card spot
Can Toronto keep pace in the AL Wild Card race with a win on the road against the Rays on Monday night?
Ray set to face Rays for sixth time in 2021Southpaw Robbie Ray will toe the rubber for Toronto in the opening game of its series at the Trop on Monday night. Ray is in the midst of a career year in his first full season in Toronto. He has compiled an impressive 12-5 overall record to go along with a 2.64 ERA in 29 starts, and he’s been even sharper as of late, allowing two earned runs or fewer in nine of his previous 10 appearances. Last time out, the Blue Jays’ left-hander spun seven innings of one-run ball with 13 strikeouts and no walks in a win over Tampa Bay.
Robbie Ray & Brandon Hyde are about to brawl pic.twitter.com/pW6l7kTlO6— TrueRGM (@TrueRGM) September 10, 2021
Ray appears to have finally put it all together in his first season in Toronto. Not only has he posted the lowest ERA of his career but he’s also managed to rein in his command in 2021. He’s struck out 11.83 batters per nine innings of work and walked a career-low 2.23 batters per nine this season.
Ray has made seven career starts versus Tampa Bay, going 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA in those matchups. This will be the sixth time this season that the Blue Jays’ lefty has taken the hill versus the Rays. He is 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in five starts against them this season. According to Baseball Savant, current Rays hitters are batting a slim .170 in 158 plate appearances off of Ray heading into Monday’s matchup.
Rasmussen seeking to solidify spot in Rays rotationTampa Bay is scheduled to counter with right-hander Drew Rasmussen for Monday’s series opener against Toronto. The 26-year-old has been a valuable member of Tampa Bay’s pitching staff this season, going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA while bouncing between the bullpen and the starting rotation. Rasmussen has pitched in 33 games and made eight starts for the Rays this season with six of those starts coming over the last month. During that span, the Rays’ righty has surrendered just four earned runs in 27 innings of work (1.33 ERA) while allowing one earned run or fewer on all six occasions.
Rasmussen has fanned 9.27 batters and walked just 3.27 hitters per nine innings of work this season. He’s limited opposing hitters to a slim .210 batting average while generating a swinging strike rate of 11.1 percent. The Rays’ right-hander has also done a good job of staying ahead of hitters by throwing 66.5 percent of his first pitches for strikes.
In two appearances (one start) against the Blue Jays this season, Rasmussen is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA.
- Blue Jays are 4-0 in their last 4 Monday games.
- Blue Jays are 9-1 in their last 10 road games.
- Blue Jays are 16-5 in their last 21 vs. American League East.
- Rays are 1-4 in their last 5 games vs. a left-handed starter.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Blue Jays should have the edge on the mound in this game. As great as Rasmussen has been since joining the starting rotation in Tampa Bay, the right-hander is due for some regression after allowing one run or fewer in six straight starts. Ray has been effective against the Rays in 2021, logging a healthy 1.85 ERA in five starts against them this season. He’s also given up two earned runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts. With Toronto in the thick of a heated Wild Card race, look for the Blue Jays to steal Game 1 of this series in Tampa Bay on Monday evening.
Full-Game Total Pick
Rasmussen has allowed one earned run or fewer in 13 consecutive appearances while Ray has given up two earned runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts. While most signing point to this being a low-scoring affair, I’m going to go the other way here. Both of these starters will be facing the opposition for the second consecutive time, so the offenses should have the advantage in this game. Toronto has also been heating back up at the plate, so there should be some value on the over in this game. Take this AL East showdown to go over the projected total at Tropicana Field on Monday.