Photo Credit: Mark LoMoglio, Getty Images

Anthony Kay keeps Rays at bay in sound major-league debut

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo took a long and meaningful stroll to the mound to relieve young hurler Anthony Kay on the night of his major-league debut, almost as if to allow Kay, 24, to be congratulated by his teammates on a job well done prior to being removed from the game.

Upon arriving at the mound, Montoyo, and catcher Reese McGuire, smiled enthusiastically at Kay, before sending him off to the visitor’s dugout at Tropicana Field, where he would receive an equally warm reception from his teammates and coaches.

Montoyo’s reaction and those of his teammates were incredibly justified, seeing as Kay, a southpaw with a classic makeup, stifled one of the American League’s most potent offences, even it was in a rather unassuming and discrete manner. Though Kay would end up with the no-decision in the team’s eventual 5-3 loss Saturday, he was solid in his first outing.

In 5.2 innings, he allowed just two earned runs on four hits, striking out seven and walking three. He threw 53 of his 92 pitches for strikes and allowed Rays batters to hit only three pitches for exit velocities of over 90.0 MPH, according to Statcast.

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“It was probably the best I’ve felt in a really long time”, Kay told reporters (including Ryan Kolakowski of The Tampa Bay Times) after the game. “I had good command of my changeup and curveball and was just going right at [them]. It really set me up for success”.

According to MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson, Kay’s fastball averaged 93.7 MPH and topped out at 95.9 MPH. It was the excellent command of his fastball (and a slightly spiked velocity) that helped him tie teammate Trent Thornton’s franchise record for most strikeouts in an MLB debut, per Blue Jays baseball media associate Rodney Hiemstra.

While Kay has undoubtedly earned himself another start with the major-league club (likely on September 13 or 14 against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre), there’s certainly room for improvement, mainly with regards to his breaking ball command and stamina. Of course, the debut was an overall success.

On the flip side, Marcus Stroman lasted just four innings in his start for the Mets against the Phillies, allowing four earned runs on ten hits while striking out six.

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Jacob Waguespack takes the hill Sunday afternoon to face off against Tyler Glasnow as the Blue Jays hope to salvage what has been a rather rough four-game series thus far. First pitch flies at 1:10 PM EDT.