Setting the stage for the Blue Jays’ wildcard series against the Seattle Mariners
Photo credit:John Froschauer
3 months ago
After clinching home field on Monday night thanks to a Blue Jays win and a Seattle Mariners loss, the question was which team would be visiting the raucous SkyDome (or “Rogers Centre”).
That question was answered on Tuesday evening when the Tampa Bay Rays lost their game, while the Mariners won their first game of a doubleheader. Since the Mariners needed two wins, or two Tampa losses, they have clinched the second wildcard spot.
The Mariners sit 19th in the MLB in total runs, while the Blue Jays sit fourth in the same category, despite being incredibly streaky. Their best offensive player by far is Rookie of the Year candidate Julio Rodriguez, as he comes in with a .284/.345/.506 slash line, with 26 homers.
Also watch out for Ty France, Eugenio Suarez, Cal Raliegh, and Jesse Winker, all above-average hitters in terms of wRC+.
However, Seattle’s pitching staff is pretty good, allowing the seventh-fewest runs (613) in the MLB, whereas the Jays sit with the 13th fewest runs allowed (673).
It’s presumed that Seattle will likely use their three best starters in the series: Former Blue Jay Robbie Ray, breakout star Logan Gilbert, and big-time trade deadline acquisition, Luis Castillo.
Luis Castillo is the best of the bunch, as he has a 2.99 ERA and 3.07 FIP, with a 27.2 K% and a 7.3 BB% in 150 innings pitched between Cincinnati and Seattle. Since joining Seattle, the 29-year-old has a 3.17 ERA and 2.91 FIP in 65 innings pitched, along with a 28.9 K% and 6.4 BB%.
Logan Gilbert is their second-best starter, and he has a 3.20 ERA and 3.46 FIP in 185.2 innings pitched in 2022. Unlike Castillo and Ray, he doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, as he has a 22.7 K%, but limits walking batters as he had a 6.4 BB%.
Their third best starter, in my opinion, is Robert Ray. After a Cy Young performance in 2021, he’s reverted to his old self (somewhat) prior to meeting Pete Walker. He had a 3.71 ERA and 4.16 FIP in 189 innings pitched. He has a 27.4 K% (a drop from 32.1% in 2021) and an 8 BB%. I recently wrote an article about how the Jays upgraded Ray with Kevin Gausman.
Speaking of Gausman, he is one of three Toronto starters that is expected to start in the wild card series. The other expected starters are Ross Stripling and Alek Manoah, Toronto’s ace.
Alek Manoah has a 2.24 ERA and 3.34 FIP in 196.2 innings pitched in 2022. While his 22.9 K% isn’t a standout, he’s limited the walks with a 6.5 BB%. He also won pitcher of the month in September, with a 0.88 ERA.
Kevin Gausman will likely be their second starter, and he has a 3.35 ERA and 2.38 FIP in 174.2 innings pitched. He has a high 28.3 K% but has done a fantastic job at limiting walks with a 3.9 BB%. Pulled from his last game with a cut on his finger, he’ll more than likely be good to go come Saturday.
Lastly, we have Ross Stripling, who has been the Jays’ most valuable player, the hero we didn’t think we needed. He has a 3.01 ERA and 3.11 FIP in 134.1 innings pitched. While his 20.7 K% doesn’t stand out, he’s even better at limiting walks with a 3.7 BB%.
He’s the accountant that stepped up after Hyun-JIn Ryu’s injury, posting a 2.92 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 123.1 innings pitched as a starter. If Stripling didn’t perform the way he has this season, this article would not have been written, as the Jays probably don’t make the playoffs.
It’s a no-brainer to offer the 32-year-old righty a qualifying offer, even though a compensation pick doesn’t replace what Stripling has provided in 2022.
Jumping ahead of ourselves quickly, the winner of the series has a date with a fully rested Houston Astros squad. That will already be a tough series, but with Berrios possibly starting game one, the offense cannot afford to be streaky.
With that being said, let’s just focus on winning this series first.
The three-game series starts on Friday, likely at the 4:00 PM EST slot. Call in sick, sneak your phone in during the meeting, or do whatever you must do to watch this series. Post-season baseball is back in Toronto for the first time since 2016. Fucking enjoy it.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. I swore, but seriously, I’m hyped.
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