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Who do the Blue Jays stack up better against: The Rays or the Twins?

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Paul Berthelot
7 months ago
With the Blue Jays nearing a playoff berth: who would you rather play in the Wild Card Series the Tampa Bay Rays or the Minnesota Twins?
The obvious answer right away is the Twins. The AL Central is the weakest division in the league and the Blue Jays will finish with anywhere from 4-5 wins ahead of the Twins. And while the Rays have a significantly better record than the Blue Jays, the Jays did just go into the Trop and take two of three which is making that possibility a little less scary.
Let’s dive into how each of the three teams has played this season, taking an overhead look at their offence, pitching and defence, and see who the Blue Jays would rather play on October 3rd.

Offence

Offensively the Blue Jays aren’t coming into the Postseason on a high note. Outside of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, the rest of the regulars haven’t been hitting particularly well. Overall, the team has a 97 wRC+ this month tied for 16th in the league. The Twins and Rays however are coming in on a heater, particularly the Twins. They lead the Majors with 151 runs scored this month, accomplishing this by walking at the highest rate and hitting the fifth most home runs. Their 125 wRC+ for the month trails only the Astros for tops in MLB.
The Rays aren’t coming into October as hot as the Twins but don’t be fooled over the course of the season they have been one of the best offensive teams in the league. The Blue Jays may not be able to hit good pitching but that’s mostly because the offense this season has been remarkably average.
TeamsOPSwRC+Home RunsRuns Scored
Twins.762 (10th)111 (7th)226 (4th)754 (11th)
Rays.770 (7th)117 (2nd)225 (6th)837 (4th)
Blue Jays.742 (17th)106 (12th)180 (18th)716 (16th)
 
FanGraphs has this really cool feature where you can do team stats but with players currently on the active roster. So that is what I used here for the OPS and wRC+ numbers, (the home runs and runs scored total are for the full season with everyone). That gives us a pretty good indication of how the team is currently constructed hit this season. The Rays are obviously a great offensive team and this doesn’t even include Brandon Lowe, Jose Siri, or their shortstop. For the Twins, this excludes Carlos Correa, Royce Lewis, Joey Gallo and Byron Buxton, all of whom could be back in time for the postseason.
The Blue Jays on the other hand have been remarkably healthy, as the only regular they are currently missing is catcher Danny Jansen. Though it’s worth noting that Matt Chapman and others on the Blue Jays are grinding through some IL-worthy injuries.
Overall looking at the offense of these teams I think you would rather play the Twins here. Sure, they will be getting some regulars back, but who knows how healthy they are and if they will be up to speed without any rehab games.

Pitching

On the pitching side of things, at least with the starters. The edge has to go to the Twins. They are expected to have Pablo Lopez (3.66 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 4.5 WAR) going in Game 1, and Sonny Gray (2.80 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 5.2 WAR), going in Game 2. The Rays are missing a trio of elite starters Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, and Jeffery Springs. Not having to face those guys is good for the Blue Jays, though it’s not like Zach Eflin (3.50 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 4.8 WAR) and Tyler Glasnow (3.53 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 3.2 WAR) have been slouches either.
Still, though I think you would rather face the Rays pitching, especially when you compare bullpens.
BullpensERAFIPK/9BB/9
Twins2.95 (3rd)3.33 (2nd)10.27 (4th)2.95 (2nd)
Rays3.61 (11th)3.64 (8th)9.52 (13th)3.06 (4th)
Blue Jays3.41 (9th)3.57 (4th)10.60 (2nd)3.39 (15th)
This is again only players on the active roster. The Rays have had the best bullpen in September but I still think you would rather face them than the Twins. The Twins bullpen is loaded with Jhoan Duran, Emilio Pagan, and Griffen Jax, players who throw hard and can strike you out. The Rays have been typical Rays assembling a no-name group who just come out and dominate. They are led by Pete Fairbanks who can hit 100mph with his fastball, but after that the Rays have a bunch of guys throwing in the 95-96 range. A far cry from their stable of arms of guys who throw 98.
The Rays have a solid pitching staff it’s just not as good as it has been in years past, and then you add in the injuries, so the edge goes to the Twins here.

Defence

BullpensDRSOOARuns Allowed
Twins31 (8th)-13 (23rd)644 (3rd)
Rays24 (11th)4 (15th)641 (2nd)
Blue Jays82 (1st)13 (10th)648 (5th)
They say pitching and defence wins in the postseason and the Blue Jays are going to certainly put that to the test. They have been an incredible defensive team all season, even if I don’t fully understand how they have 82 defensive runs saved but only 13 outs above average. This is why we still have to remain skeptical of defensive metrics and don’t just use one and be done with it. By DRS the Twins look like a solid above-average team defensively. By OOA they look terrible, yet they have allowed the third fewest runs in the league. Of course, pitching plays, a part in this, but no matter how you slice it each of these three teams prevents runs well which will make it that much more difficult to score in October.
When you put everything together, the Twins have better pitching than the Rays with worse hitting and a worse defence. The Rays’ pitching isn’t bad, just worse than the Twins, though they do have the better offence and the better defence. The Blue Jays as we know can pitch and play defence but have had problems scoring runs. They need to lean into their strengths, and I think they are better off playing the Twins. The game will be a pitchers’ duel, and while Blue Jays fans probably don’t want to see another low-scoring tight game, I think those types of games are ones they can win, rather than trying to get into a potential slugfest with the Rays.
The Rays may have the weaker pitching but it’s still quite good, and yes the Blue Jays did take two of three from the Rays in The Trop, no one would be excited to head back there for three more games. Plus who wouldn’t want a chance to see José Berríos exorcise his postseason demons against his former team in his old ballpark?
Bring on the Twins!!!

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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