The Blue Jays have returned home after a dominant 8-2 road trip. They are now 78-61 on the season, 5.5 games up on the Baltimore Orioles for the third wild card spot and just a half game behind the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners.
They begin an eight game homestand tonight with game one of a five game series against the Rays. These eight games over the next seven days against the Rays and Orioles are arguably the most important of the season.
Tampa comes into this series after dropping two of three at home versus the New York Yankees. They won the first game then were outscored 20-7 in the next two. The Rays lead the season series over the Jays 6-4.

Things Worth Mentioning…

Bo Bichette led the way for the Jays on the road trip.
For most of the season Bichette hasn’t lived up to expectations but the young shortstop has heated up at the right time. With eight huge games coming up, they will need him to continue to produce.
There have been a lot of ups and downs for the Jays’ hitters this season but they now lead the American League in several major statistics.
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Now they just need the backend of their rotation to solidify and they can be a serious threat in October.

The head-to-head…

Jose Berrios vs. Cooper Criswell
Berrios won his last start against the Baltimore Orioles on July 5th pitching six innings and allowing only two earned runs to lower his ERA to 5.23. He now has a 10-5 record in 2022. Despite getting the win in Baltimore he was still hit eight times and allowed two walks. He has given up 18 hits and seven runs in his last two outings.
His only start against the Rays this year came on July 1st. He pitched five innings of two-run ball in a 9-2 Blue Jays win.
Claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on July 16th, Criswell will be making his Rays debut tonight and just the second MLB start of his career. With a double header set for tomorrow the Rays called up Criswell for a spot start.
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Since being acquired by the Rays he has pitched 27.1 innings (eight appearances, three starts) for triple-A Durham. In those games he has a 1-0 record and a 3.95 ERA.
Alek Manoah vs. Jeffrey Springs
Alek Manoah is set to pitch in one of the games during Tuesday’s double header, the other pitcher is TBA.
Manoah watched intently from the dugout as the Baltimore Orioles celebrated their win on September 6th. The next night he came out and dominated the Orioles over eight innings to secure the series win and give the Jays a 4.5 game lead for the final wildcard position.
Since being roughed up for four runs in 5.2 innings on August 16th, he has been nearly unhittable. In his last four starts he has pitched 28.1 innings with an ERA of 0.96 for a record of 3-0.
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Like Manoah, Jeffrey Springs will pitch tomorrow but we do not know which game. Their other starter is TBA as well.
Prior to this season Springs had made only two starts in 102 MLB appearances, this year he has started in 20 of his 28 games. Springs has continued the tradition of Rays starters who seemingly come out of nowhere to be key contributors.
His 2.54 ERA is second on the Rays to Shane McClanahan and his 3.11 FIP is third. His lone start versus the Jays came on May 16th in a 3-0 Rays win. He pitched 4.2 shutout innings, allowing four hits.
Ross Stripling vs. Drew Rasmussen
Ross Stripling returned from the IL on August 17th and has pitched at least six innings in all five of his starts since. With Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman being the only two reliable starters from the opening day rotation, Stripling’s emergence has been crucial to this team’s success.
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Stripling is second in the Jays rotation in both ERA (3.03) and FIP (3.09), his 2.6 WAR is third according to FanGraphs.
Much like his teammate Springs, Rasmussen has spent most of his career prior to this season coming out of the bullpen. Again like Springs, his transition to being a fulltime starter has been seamless. In 24 starts this season he has a 2.57 ERA and a record of 10-4.
Rasmussen has pitched against the Blue Jays three times in 2022. He has an ERA of 1.68 in those games and the Rays won two out of three.
Kevin Gausman vs. Shane McClanahan
Gausman has been the Blue Jays’ best starter this season but is coming off one of his worst outings of the year on Saturday. He matched a season high five earned runs in an 11-7 win against the Rangers.
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In three starts against Tampa Bay in 2022 he has pitched 17 innings and allowed only three runs.
One of the favourites for the AL Cy Young award for most of the season, McClanahan was placed on the IL back on August 31st with a shoulder injury. He is expected to be back on the roster in time to start Thursday’s game.
He leads Rays starters in innings pitched (147.1), strikeouts (182), ERA (2.20), FIP (2.65) and WAR (3.8)

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