We have the fourth and final game of this crucial AL East matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays hosting the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon.
This is the 19th and final meeting between these two clubs this season (at least in the regular season) as they remain in a constant battle for the top AL Wild Card spot, where the Jays hold a one-game lead.
Toronto will send steady starter Ross Stripling to the mound. Can he help the Blue Jays pull off the road upset — or will the veteran righty put the Jays in an early hole?
Find out in our free MLB picks and predictions for Blue Jays vs. Rays on Sunday, September 25.
Blue Jays vs Rays best odds
Blue Jays vs Rays picks and predictions
I'm targeting the Tampa Bay Rays to get off to a strong offensive start, as they are slated to go against right-hander Ross Stripling. The Rays rank in the top half of the league in BA, OPS, wOBA, and hard-hit percentage against righties since the beginning of August, and they've also hit Stripling hard in the past.
Through 132 career plate appearances against Stripling, this current Rays roster possesses a .280 BA, .517 SLG, and .364 wOBA — and over his last four appearances against Tampa Bay, he has a 7.31 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.
So why is Tampa Bay’s team total for the first five innings just 1.5?
Well, Stripling has had a strong year, going 8-4 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.03 WHIP across 30 appearances, which could be a big part of why this line is set so low.
However, there are multiple reasons why Stripling should be a fade candidate in this game.
First, he is coming off a terrible start against the Philadelphia Phillies, yielding five runs on nine hits through four innings — the third time in the last five starts that Stripling has allowed two or more runs in the first five frames.
Meanwhile, the Rays jumped out early against Toronto in this series, recording at least two runs through five innings in two of the first three contests.
Considering the Rays hit well against right-handed pitching, and specifically against Stripling, two runs from Tampa should not be too much to ask for in the first half of this game.
My best bet: Rays first five innings team total Over 1.5 (-115 at DraftKings)
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Blue Jays vs Rays moneyline analysis
I would lean towards the Rays moneyline in this contest but am not confident enough to pull the trigger.
Shane McClanahan will take the mound for Tampa Bay. While the lefty has definitely been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, he is still fresh off a shoulder injury and tweaked his neck in his previous start against the Astros.
In that game, McClanahan surrendered five runs on five hits through four innings pitched, so I have multiple concerns about McClanahan in this game: How healthy is he? Will he (can he?) go further than five innings for the first time in a month?
On top of these concerns, the Blue Jays have a strong lineup. When facing left-handed pitching, Toronto ranks 11th in the league in slugging percentage, 11th in OPS, 11th in wOBA, and 12th in hard-hit percentage since August 1.
It is likely that McClanahan is just fine, but these concerns are too worrisome for confidently back the moneyline.
Blue Jays vs Rays Over/Under analysis
I'm leaning towards the Over in this game. However, if McClanahan defies the concerns mentioned above, then it could be a very different script for this game.
Through 26 starts this season, he is 12-6 with a 2.36 ERA and 0.90 WHIP and has a 2.05 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in five career starts against Toronto.
There is a reason McClanahan was a Cy Young favorite before his injury in August, but now there are too many questions surrounding him to definitively make a play on this game.
I could see him throwing seven scoreless innings... but I could also see him not being sharp and allowing a bunch of runs early on.
Blue Jays vs Rays trend to know
Opponents have scored two or more runs in the first five innings in three of Ross Stripling’s last five starts. Find more MLB betting trends for Blue Jays vs. Rays
Blue Jays vs Rays game info
|Location:||Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL|
|Date:||Sunday, September 25, 2022|
|First pitch:||1:10 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Sportsnet, Bally Sports|
Ross Stripling (8-4, 3.21 ERA): Stripling will look to continue his overall strong year but he is coming off a terrible start against the Phillies, in which he allowed five runs on nine hits through four innings. Additionally, he is facing a Rays team he historically has struggled against.
Shane McClanahan (12-6, 2.36 ERA): A Cy Young favorite just one month ago, until injuries derailed him, McClanahan will look to get back into form. In his two starts since returning from a shoulder injury, he is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. His first start was five shutout innings against these same Blue Jays... but his most recent outing was a poor performance that also resulted in him tweaking his neck.
Blue Jays vs Rays latest injuries
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Blue Jays vs Rays weather
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