Reviewing the Series: #13 Toronto Blue Jays
In the third meeting between these two teams the Rays brought their passports Northward to Toronto, one of the greatest cities in North America. Tampa Bay was coming off the lowest of lows after losing a series to the Oakland Athletics with the final game being pissed away after a big lead. It feels like months ago.
In every single game the Blue Jays looked to have the better matchups. The Rays were expected to hit a little above average putting up 14 runs in the process, but the Jays looked to be a little bit better across the board. This did not come to pass. Instead, the Rays piled on in the first two games to the tune of 25 actual runs, which appears to have been not a fluke. Based on how they hit you would have expected 23 runs in those two games and then they tacked on with what basically looked like another six in the finale.
Not only did the Rays drastically out-hit their projections, but they also held a potent offense to around six runs less than expected. This all leads to the Rays being the heavy favorite by pythag win expectancy. Prior to each game the Rays looked like solid dogs averaging a win expectancy around 44%, but the way that they hit and pitched makes this look every bit as lopsided as it was in reality.
Toronto got very good offensive production from the guys you expect like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and Jimmy Paredes. Well, maybe not Paredes who enjoyed a mid-series call up to hit pretty well. The Rays did well against the other fearsome righties like Donaldson, Tulo and especially Pillar who didn’t reach base despite leading the team in plate appearances. His glove is elite, but no glove can offset the three and a half runs he cost his team at the plate. You also have to wonder what is going on with Donaldson who has played through a couple of nagging injuries all season, but looked bad this bout both at the plate and in the field.
Their starters were mostly awful. Stroman and Happ buried them in such a hole that it was very unlikely the Jays could have dug out. Dickey was a little better, but that’s not saying a whole lot. Most series he might have been the worst pitcher on their team with his 2.6 runs allowed above average. Their pen wasn’t a whole lot better outside of the surprisingly non-mustachioed Biagini. This is a bad pen that didn’t get to use it’s very best reliever, Roberto Osuna, but did need every ounce from the other guys. It was pleasant to not see their tough-as-nails closer this series.
There aren’t enough superlatives for how well the Rays hit. They got tremendous performance from some of the more maligned members of the team as Morrison and Jennings put up outstanding production. This site has called for Pearce seeing a bigger role and this is exactly why. He destroys lefties and can hold his own against righties while providing competent defense at three positions on the infield. Kiermaier continues to prove he is more than just a great glove with a pretty face, while Brad Miller also is reaping the benefits of a great approach that wasn’t seeing the requisite results earlier in the year. The best part was that virtually everyone produced other than Brandon Guyer, who we can forgive with how well he has played, and the Conger who we should basically expect this from.
Then we get to the pitching, which got lost in the cannonfire that was the offense, but went out and did their jobs. Odorizzi was our worst pitcher despite being barely worse than average, which is exactly where Archer landed. Smyly was even a little better. The pen held up their end of the deal as studs like Colome and Romero were joined by the lesser lights like Geltz and Webb. There was a ton of low leverage to soak up and that’s exactly what they went out and did.