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Series Preview: Tying To Survive In The House of Horrors

After a devastating, soul-crushing weekend in Chicago, it’s fitting that the Blue Jays will carry on their now-even-more-unlikely-than-ever playoff push at our most loathed location — the House of Horrors.

Tuesday at 7:10 ET

The series opener on Tuesday will be a rematch of last week’s series finale.

Chris Archer was excellent against the Blue Jays his last time out, tossing seven innings and scattering five hits while striking out 10. Unfortunately for him, two of those hits were homers by Josh Donaldson, as the MVP basically singlehandedly turned Archer’s potentially dominant win into a no decision. For the season, Archer has a solid 3.84 ERA, but is striking out a career-high 11.2 batters per nine.

Chris Rowley ended up with a no decision in his second career start, but was solid. He navigated in and out of trouble, pitching five innings and allowing two earned runs on four hits and five walks. Obviously the high walk number is sketchy, but Rowley was good under pressure and managed to work his way out of jams by keeping the ball on the ground and with well-timed strikeouts.

Wednesday at 7:10 ET

Marcus Stroman also put together a strong start against the Rays in Toronto last week. He picked up the win in Wednesday’s game, holding Tampa to two runs on six hits and three walks over six-and-a-third innings. For the season, Stroman has started against the Rays three times, and he’s been excellent in all of them. Over 20 innings against Tampa, he’s scattered five runs on 18 hits while collecting 22 strikeouts.

Austin Pruitt is another one of the rookies thrown into action because of Tampa’s wealth of injuries. He started the season in the bullpen making long-relief appearances and spot starts, but joined the starting rotation in late July. Since becoming a full-time starter, Pruitt has made five starts, owns a 4.45 in those starts, and has 20 strikeouts compared to seven walks. It certainly isn’t world-beating, but three of his five outings have been quality starts, which is all you can ask for from somebody in his position.

Thursday at 1:10 ET

Alex Cobb hasn’t pitched since Aug. 5 due to turf toe but will apparently be activated from the 10-day disabled list in time for Thursday’s series finale. Cobb, once pinned to be the next ace in Tampa Bay, has had his first close to fully healthy season since 2014. He owns a solid 3.80 ERA, but is only striking out 5.9 batters per nine innings. That’s a far cry from the 8.4 per nine he struck out in his breakout 2013 campaign, but after missing nearly two years due to Tommy John, Cobb has evolved into much more of a pitch-to-contact guy.

J.A. Happ had a rough time in Chicago last weekend, surrendering five earned runs over five innings to the Cubs. Over his past 13 starts, Happ has made 10 quality starts, so I obviously wouldn’t worry much about a shake outing against a good team. Happ, oddly enough, hasn’t faced the Rays yet in 2017.

Thoughts…

If the Jays sweep the Rays, they’ll leapfrog them in the wild card race. Then, after that, they’ll only have six more teams to jump! *whistles* Bleh. It’s looking bleak. But hey, anything can happen. If anything is going to happen, though, it’s going to have to start with a sweep here in the unfriendly confines of the Trop.