Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#4967 Toronto Blue Jays vs.
#4968 Tampa Bay Rays
Sunday, September 25, 2022 at 1:10pm EDT
Written by Mark Ruelle

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The Toronto Blue Jays wrap up a four-game series in Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon against the Rays. The two teams are neck-and-neck in the race for the top wildcard position in the American League as the Mariners appear to have faded back to the third spot. The winner will earn home field advantage in the first-round series between the two teams. The pitching matchup for Sunday will feature right-hander Ross Stripling (8-4, 3.21) of the Blue Jays taking on the Rays ace lefty Shane McClanahan (12-6. 2.36). First pitch is set for 1:10pm EST.

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Need to Get on the Same Page

The Blue Jays are playing things right down the middle heading into the final two games of this series. The team is just 5-5 over their last ten games and the play of their pitching and offense have been 50/50 as well. While the Jays' offense has started to heat up and the team is hitting .269 over their last ten games with an average of six runs per game, the pitching has gone ice cold. The Blue Jays team ERA over that same span is just 5.71 as they've allowed 98 hits in just 88 innings of work. On Saturday against the Rays, the Jays took a one-game cushion in the wildcard race with a 3-1 win. Whit Merrifield's three-run home run was all the support Alek Manoah needed as he pitched seven shutout innings against the Rays.

Toronto has clinched a playoff berth already and the team is now just sorting out seeding as the season comes to a close. They are all but assured of playing the Rays in round one and home-field advantage will be decided in the final ten days.  On the mound on Sunday for Toronto will be righty Ross Stripling. Stripling has cooled off a bit down the stretch with just a 4.45 ERA in his last five starts with a record of 2-1. Against the Rays this season, he is 1-1 with a solid 3.27 ERA.

Back in Business

The Tampa Bay Rays are once again in the American League playoffs this season but will come in as an underdog rather than the team with the AL's best record as they did in 2021. Tampa has some unfinished business after being dumped by Boston in the first round of last year's playoffs. The Rays have enjoyed a huge advantage at home this season and earning the fourth seed may be more critical to them than the Blue Jays. On Saturday night, the Rays dropped a game back of the Blue Jays in a 3-1 loss.

The Rays continue to do it their way with a lineup of grinders at the plate surrounding one or two marquee players, solid starting pitching and a deep and talented bullpen. On Sunday, the Rays will turn to their ace, American League all-star game starting pitcher Shane McClanahan. The lefty has just returned from a stint on IL and will undoubtedly be the team's game one starter in the playoffs. He has yet to face the Jays this season, surprisingly, but is 9-4 with a 2.59 ERA at home this season in 17 starts.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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The Rays are 10-7 against the Blue Jays coming into Saturday night's game. Shane McClanahan has been nearly dominant at home this season in 17 starts and has one of the best bullpens in baseball behind him. The Blue Jays are a miserable 11-20 against lefties this season. Finally, the Rays come into this matchup in a much more desperate position to gain home-field advantage given their struggles on the road. Ride the Rays and their ace on Sunday.

Take the Rays with the money line.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays ML

Full-Game Total Pick

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Given the urgency, this game will be played much more like a typical Rays game; good to very good starting pitching, small ball offense and timely use of their bullpen based on the matchup. McClanahan will certainly get the Rays into the late middle innings and then will turn it over to a bullpen that will be mixed-matched based on the hitters coming up. The Rays want to play this game tightly with their top three arms in the bullpen at the ready. The Rays are 7-2-1 to the under in McClanahan's last ten home starts. The trend will continue in this spot.

Take the under.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Mark Ruelle , "Mark Ruelle"

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.