The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays will wrap up the rubber match of their three-game set at Tropicana Field on Wednesday afternoon.
Tampa Bay couldn't take advantage of the wildness from Toronto's pitching staff Tuesday and was unable to cash with the bases loaded in the ninth, losing 4-2 a night after taking the series opener.
It will be a bullpen day for Toronto on Wednesday while the Rays counter with Luis Patino, who's taking the spot of Michael Wacha after he threw three innings of relief last night.
Find out who we like in our free MLB betting picks and predictions for Blue Jays vs. Rays on September 22.
Blue Jays vs Rays game info
• Location: Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay, FL
• Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2021
• Time: 3:10 p.m. ET
• TV: Sportsnet, Bally Sports Sun
Blue Jays vs Rays odds
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Blue Jays vs Rays betting preview
Julian Merryweather (0-1, 4.91 ERA): The flamethrower will get the ball for Toronto but he's unlikely to toss more than an inning and at best will work into the second. Merryweather has been injured for most of the season and has made four appearances since returning from the injured list in September, although his swing-and-miss stuff has disappeared (he hasn't struck out a batter since returning). Ross Stripling, who also recently returned from the IL, is expected to soak up innings today and may follow right after Merryweather.
Luis Patino (4-3, 4.73 ERA): The rookie right-hander, who was the prize of the Blake Snell trade, wasn't supposed to go today but will get the ball after the Rays turned to Wacha in relief last night. He went a career-high-tying six innings in his last start but allowed six hits and four runs for the second time in his last three outings. He faced the Jays in July... and they hammered him for seven runs.
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Blue Jays: Santiago Espinal 2B (Out), Cavan Biggio 3B (Out), Joakim Soria RP (Out).
Rays: Wander Franco (SS), Adam Kittredge RP (Out), Matt Wisler RP (Out).
Find our latest MLB injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Blue Jays are 19-5 over their last 24 games. Find more MLB betting trends for Blue Jays vs. Rays.
The Blue Jays are lucky they even have a chance to win this series today. Alek Manoah, last night's starter, issued a career-high six free passes and walked a tightrope all game but escaped through six innings of work with only two runs allowed, as his ability to miss bats (he fanned seven) helped him avoid big damage. It was much of the same in the later innings as two of Toronto's top relievers — Trevor Richards and closer Jordan Romano — combined to walk five more batters but the Rays weren't able to capitalize.
That's how it goes sometimes when you are as hot as the Blue Jays, who got some key at-bats late and have won 19 of their last 24 contests to remain in sole possession of the AL's second wild-card spot with 11 games remaining.
Toronto has been running out a fairly concrete five-man rotation since acquiring Jose Berrios at the trade deadline but an injury to Hyun Jin Ryu has forced the club to consider some alternatives, which begins today with Merryweather taking the mound first as the opener. The Rays stacked up with lefties against the righty Manoah last night and sat big bats Randy Arozarena and Nelson Cruz but it's hard to imagine them doing the same — even against the hard-throwing right-hander Merryweather, who hasn't thrown more than an inning of work since returning two weeks ago from a five-month absence.
The Blue Jays will try to force the Rays into lineup decisions they don't want to make with Merryweather and the expectation is that Stripling will be the bulk guy, whether that is right after Merryweather or later in the game. It's not the most ideal scenario in a playoff race — but Patino's struggles don't give the Rays much of a leg up for this pitching matchup.
The 21-year-old has terrific stuff and entered the season as one of Tampa's top pitching prospects, but his first real taste of the big leagues has been challenging. Patino has struggled to keep the ball in the yard and he's been wild, which isn't a good combination when you are up against a team that leads the majors in homers and strikes out at the second-lowest clip. Patino is going to have to grind through tough at-bats against an unforgiving lineup that has already punished him once this season.
We expected last night's game to feature little offense and it did just that. Today, on the other hand, we expect the bats to show more life — and that favors the power-hitting Blue Jays.
PREDICTION: Toronto (+100)
Even when Toronto's offense isn't clicking at its best, which has been the case this series, it's still dangerous based on the club's ability to go deep. The Blue Jays have been held to four runs in back-to-back games but they've also hit four homers — luckily for the Rays, three of those have been solo jobs.
But Toronto has a real opportunity to do damage against Patino, who has been hit hard repeatedly this season and served up bombs in eight of his last 11 starts. He has thrown better at home (3.38 ERA at the pitcher-friendly Trop, compared to a mark of 6.53 on the road), but the home run issues have plagued him at all ballparks. He walks batters at an above-average rate, too, and that's just not something you can get away with against a Blue Jays team that leads the majors in OPS and has had the best offense in baseball since the start of the second half.
Home runs are also something Stripling has struggled with (his 2.02 HR/9 rate is seventh in the majors among pitchers who have thrown at least 90 innings) and he's likely to see more work than any Toronto pitcher today. He has only thrown twice since August 10, due to an oblique strain, and he has surrendered three dingers over those 4 1-3 innings of work. Like Toronto, the Rays will make a homer-prone pitcher pay.
Tampa has hit the sixth-most bombs in MLB this season and ranks third in the second half. The Rays are also second in slugging and fourth in OPS post-All-Star break and while their numbers have slipped some in September, they've still maintained a Top-5 offense per FanGraphs' wRC+.
All told, these two lineups present opposing pitching staffs with difficult assignments. The recent head-to-head trends favor the Under, which is 6-1 in the last seven meetings at The Trop and 7-1-2 in the last 10 games overall, but the above context is important. We don't trust that these pitchers will be able to avoid hard contact and keep the ball in the yard and we see a double-digit total as the better play.
PREDICTION: Over 9 (-105)
Blue Jays vs Rays betting card
- Toronto ML (+100)
- Over 9 (-105)
Picks made on 9/22/2021 at 9:41 a.m. ET
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