The Rays, as we know, actively are trying to be bad this year. They’re making no bones about it openly referring to some social media endeavour as The Rays Tank which is supposed to mean something fish-related but instead is subtle, coded language in regards to them wanting to lose over 100 games.
Friday at 7:10 ET
Jays Ace Happ will take the ball in the opener on Friday night as he looks to build on back-to-back excellent starts. In his past two outings against Boston and Texas, Happ has tossed seven innings while scattering just one and two runs respectively. The most impressive part, though, is the fact he’s struck out 19 guys in those two outings while walking nobody. J.A. Happ has undoubtedly been the ace of the staff this season. That’s why the J.A. stands for Jays Ace, you know. He’ll go against Andrew Kittredge who has made two starts in his Major League career. That said, those weren’t real starts. They’re Tampa Bay’s bullpen games because they just threw their hands in the air and said fuck it when it comes to having five starters this year. The 28-year-old righty owns a 6.23 ERA over 13 innings this season and he’s only struck out seven batters.
Saturday at 6:10 ET
Aaron Sanchez had a not-so-great outing in Minnesota his last time out. While the results on paper were decent, four runs on six hits over six innings, Sanchez got hit pretty hard and enjoyed some good batted ball luck as he ended up with loud outs. All told, Sanchez has a 4.06 ERA for the season through 37 2/3 innings. The one somewhat worrying thing about his results is the lack of strikeouts we’ve seen thus far. Jacob Faria, last year’s breakout rookie for the Rays, will start for Tampa Bay. Faria has been up and down this year with some very good outings, like eight innings of three-hit ball his last time out against Detroit, but he’s also got smacked around, like eight runs without getting out of the second inning against Boston.
Sunday at 1:10 ET
Marco Estrada, who’s had a rough span of starts due to lingering back issues, will start in the finale on Sunday. After two great starts to open the year, Estrada has been tagged for at least four runs in each of his past four outings while not making it beyond the fifth inning once. He’ll face Chris Archer who’s been uncharacteristically bad this season. Archer owns a 6.05 ERA and has only put up two quality starts through seven outings so far in 2018. His peripherals, like a 9.8 per nine strikeout and 2.8 per nine walk rate are encouraging, though.
How’s the Rays tank going? Well, not that great! Tampa Bay is 13-16, putting them on pace to go like 72-90. What the hell kind of tank is that?! This team gutted itself in the off-season, went out on Opening Day without a five-man rotation, signed Rob Refsnyder to be their jack-of-all-trades, and, still, they’re on pace to be not that bad.
I mean, they’re still pretty bad, but they aren’t 100-loss terrible like we expected them to be after they fired half of their roster into space this winter. This is an important series for the Jays. We knew the team was going to struggle against New York and Boston, and in order to keep up with other teams like Anaheim in the wild card race, Toronto really needs to capitalize on the terrible teams in their division — Tampa and Baltimore.