After taking two of three from the New York Yankees to start the season, the Tampa Bay Rays will now set their sites on the winless Toronto Blue Jays to begin a four-game series on Thursday night. Tampa knocked off the Yankees in the rubber match 4-1 on Wednesday as part of a 14-game opening stretch against American League East opponents. Logan Morrison led the offense in the opening series, going 5-for-9 with a homer and Corey Dickerson led off the first inning with a HR on Wednesday for the Rays, who took 11 of 19 games from the Blue Jays last season. Toronto managed just three runs in two games to get swept at Baltimore, including a 3-1 setback Wednesday. Toronto left 19 on base and went 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position in the opening series. The Blue Jays hope to get more out the middle of their lineup against Tampa Bay as Jose Bautista (31 career homers against the Rays), Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki went 2-for-26 against Baltimore. Devon Travis went 15-for-38 with seven RBIs in nine games against the Rays last season and is 3-for-10 to start 2017. Tampa Bay CF Kevin Kiermaier recorded 24 hits (three of them HRs) and 12 RBIs in 19 games versus Toronto in 2016.
Pitchers: Blue Jays – Marcus Stroman (2016: 9-10, 4.37 ERA) | Rays – Blake Snell (2016: 6-8, 3.54)
Marcus Stroman will get his first start this season after helping the USA to a WBC title in the spring. Stroman went 0-5 despite a respectable 3.41 ERA in September and won once in his final 14 starts – including the playoffs. The former Duke grad didn’t have much run support while going 2-6 after the All-Star break with a 3.68 ERA following a first half where he was 7-4 with a 4.89 mark. Evan Longoria is 8-for-22 with a pair of homers versus Stroman, who is 3-4 with a 4.84 ERA in seven career starts against Tampa Bay.
Blake Snell looks to improve on his solid rookie season as he struck out 98 batters in 89 innings and kept his ERA down despite walking 51. Snell allowed one run on two hits in six innings to beat the Blue Jays on September 3rd after lasting just 1.2 innings the previous month in his first meeting with Toronto. Travis was 3-for-4 and Tulowitzki homered against Snell, who won five games in 10 starts at home last season while recording a 3.04 ERA.
I expect the Blue Jays bats to get back on track and hit Snell pretty good tonight. Stroman should carry his spring momentum into the season and look for him to have a solid outing against the Rays Thursday.
Pick:Blue Jays -125
Blue Jays are 5-1 in their last 6 road games vs. a left-handed starter.
Blue Jays are 4-1 in their last 5 games vs. a left-handed starter.
Blue Jays are 6-2 in their last 8 during game 1 of a series.
Blue Jays are 3-12 in their last 15 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.
Blue Jays are 1-5 in their last 6 overall.
Blue Jays are 2-6 in Stroman’s last 8 starts.
Blue Jays are 2-7 in Stroman’s last 9 starts vs. American League East.
Blue Jays are 1-4 in Stroman’s last 5 starts during game 1 of a series.
Blue Jays are 1-10 in Stroman’s last 11 road starts.
Rays are 6-1 in their last 7 Thursday games.
Rays are 5-11 in their last 16 overall.
Rays are 18-40 in their last 58 during game 1 of a series.
Rays are 4-9 in their last 13 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400.
Rays are 2-5 in their last 7 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.
Rays are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. American League East.
Rays are 1-4 in their last 5 games on astroturf.
Rays are 1-4 in their last 5 home games.
Rays are 2-5 in Snell’s last 7 starts vs. a team with a losing record.
Under is 7-1 in Blue Jays last 8 on astroturf.
Under is 21-4-1 in Blue Jays last 26 overall.
Under is 16-5 in Blue Jays last 21 vs. American League East.
Under is 12-4-1 in Blue Jays last 17 road games vs. a left-handed starter.
Under is 26-10-1 in Blue Jays last 37 road games.
Under is 33-13-7 in Blue Jays last 53 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.
Under is 5-2 in Blue Jays last 7 Thursday games.
Under is 35-15-1 in Blue Jays last 51 during game 1 of a series.
Under is 32-15-5 in Blue Jays last 52 games vs. a left-handed starter.
Under is 5-0 in Stroman’s last 5 starts on astroturf.
Under is 7-0 in Stroman’s last 7 starts overall.
Under is 5-0 in Stroman’s last 5 starts vs. American League East.
Under is 5-1 in Stroman’s last 6 road starts.
Over is 4-1 in Rays last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400.
Under is 4-1 in Rays last 5 games vs. a right-handed starter.
Over is 18-5 in Rays last 23 home games vs. a right-handed starter.
Over is 14-4 in Rays last 18 during game 1 of a series.
Under is 3-1-1 in Rays last 5 overall.
Over is 5-2 in Rays last 7 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400.
Over is 10-4 in Rays last 14 home games.
Over is 9-4 in Rays last 13 Thursday games.
Over is 4-0 in Snell’s last 4 starts during game 1 of a series.
Over is 5-1 in Snell’s last 6 home starts.
Over is 4-1 in Snell’s last 5 starts vs. American League East.
Over is 6-2 in Snell’s last 8 starts overall.
Over is 5-2 in Snell’s last 7 starts on astroturf.
Under is 5-2 in Snell’s last 7 starts vs. a team with a losing record.
HEAD TO HEAD
Over is 9-3 in the last 12 meetings.
Blue Jays are 28-58 in the last 86 meetings in Tampa Bay.