Something has to give in Toronto on Sunday as the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays entered the weekend as the top two teams in the American League in batting average. Now, both teams will have the task of facing a pair of All-Star starting pitchers.
Tampa Bay Rays (-120, 8.5) vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Shane McClanahan was the American League’s starting pitcher in the 2022 All-Star game and despite an injury-riddled second half of the season, he still had a 2.66 ERA with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings last season and has picked up from that peak form this season.
The Rays are 3-0 in McClanahan’s three starts where he posted a 1.59 ERA and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings and entered with a career ERA that’s lower on the road at 2.72 than his lifetime 2.93 ERA at home.
The Blue Jays counter with Alek Manoah, who has been terrific in his two-plus seasons when starting at Rogers Centre, firing a 2.53 ERA with 0.6 home runs per nine innings allowed in 22 career starts.
Both starters are also backed up by two of the best bullpens in baseball with the Rays entering Sunday with the best bullpen ERA in the American League and the Blue Jays are ranking eighth among MLB teams.
There’s also the factor of inevitable regression for the Rays lineup, who entered Saturday with 34 home runs in 14 games, returning much of the same roster that slugged 139 home runs in 162 games last season, which ranked 25th in the league.
The Rays benefitted greatly from a schedule that gave them the Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics, and Boston Red Sox to begin the season, a quartet whose record was 17-25 in games not involving the Rays and 17-38 overall.
Throughout the years, the Rays’ calling card has been great pitching and the fans on Sunday can expect a pitcher’s duel between a pair of 2022 All-Stars on Sunday.
The Play: Rays vs. Blue Jays Under 8.5