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Series Preview: Down to the Trop

The Blue Jays’ bats have continued to dominate since their meeting with the Rays back in Toronto just a few weeks ago. Since that series, the Blue Jays’ offense has scored five runs or more in five of their last seven games. Led by the kids, the Blue Jays offense continues to lead the entire league in home runs since June 16.

However, the Blue Jays’ lineup is about to face much better pitching when they arrive in Tampa Bay. The Rays’ starting rotation currently owns the 2nd-highest K/9 in the AL since the all-star break. The Blue Jays’ offense has also struck out the 6th-most among teams in the AL since the break as well. So, it’s hard to imagine the Blue Jays having the same success down at the ugliest stadium in baseball.

Monday at 7:10 ET

Jacob Waguespack certainly surprised many people with his latest outing against the Royals. The 25-year-old went six innings and allowed just one run on three hits. This was not only Waguespack’s longest outing as a starting pitcher but also the fewest amount of runs he’s surrendered in a single start.

The 37th-round pick in 2012 struggled at times with his command in his start against the Rays last month. Waguespack allowed a total of three walks and only lasted five innings due to his high pitch count of 93 pitches. There shouldn’t be any issues for Waguespack in this start if he’s able to locate his pitches effectively in the strike zone.

Charlie Morton who was the highlight of the entire offseason for the Rays, has been one of the best pitchers in the AL this season. The 35-year-old currently leads the AL in lowest-FIP(2.83) and HR/9(0.7). Morton also ranks 2nd in ERA(2.78) and 3rd in OPP AVG(.206).

However, Morton is coming off a very rough outing against the Red Sox. Morton allowed four runs on seven hits through just four and 2/3 innings. This was the first time since May 19 that Morton hadn’t pitched at least five innings. So, the Blue Jays will need to try and force a lot of deep counts against Morton, in order for him to exit early from the game once again.

Tuesday at 7:10 ET

Trent Thornton was impressive in his first start since being activated from the injured list. Wearing no glasses in this start may have had something to do with Thornton surrendering just one run through six innings. But, it likely more had to do with the fact that he was facing the “Trash Birds” who have one of the worst offenses in the league.

But, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Thornton threw six innings and was able to pitch without any injury concerns from his elbow. The Blue Jays didn’t want Thornton to throw more than 90 pitches in his first start off the IL. Which likely means we’ll see no pitch limit on Thornton in this game against the Rays.

The Rays have annoyingly not named a starter for the second game of this series yet. But, they will likely start the game with an opener and then give the ball to Ryan Yarbrough out of the bullpen. Yarbrough was virtually unhittable against the Blue Jays in his outing against them on July 26.

The 27-year-old held the Blue Jays’ lineup to just one run on four hits through his five and 1/3 innings pitched. However, the Blue Jays’ offense has been one of the best in the entire league since Bo Bichette arrived on July 29. Since then, the Blue Jays have recorded the most runs, home runs and RBI’s in all of baseball. Which means the Blue Jays should be able to record better results against Yarbrough in this game.

Wednesday at 1:10 ET

The Blue Jays haven’t officially named a starter for this game against the Rays. But, it seems that Yennsy Diaz will enter the game following an opening by Wilmer Font. Diaz made his MLB-debut on Aug. 4 against the Orioles and wasn’t able to locate the strike zone.

The 22-year-old threw the first pitch of his debut kilometers outside the strike zone and straight to the backstop. That pitch set the tone for Diaz’s outing, as he gave up a pair of runs on four walks. The Blue Jays will want to put Diaz in a position to succeed in. Which is why they would open the game with Font to face the top of the Rays’ lineup, and then hand the ball off to Diaz for the majority of the game.

Coming into this start, Brendan McKay has been pounded over his last two starts. The Rays’ top pitching prospect has given up a combined nine runs and 17 hits over his last 8.2 innings pitched. Home runs have been a massive problem for McKay over that time. As the 23-year-old has surrendered three home runs over those last two starts.

However, walks and strikeouts haven’t been a problem for McKay this season. He’s allowed just two walks through his five starts in the MLB this season. McKay has also created a total of 19 strikeouts over his last three starts. Which means the Blue Jays will likely need a few home runs in this game if they’re going to score any runs off McKay in this game.