2020 postseason Preview: Rays V. Jays
Sure, they rhyme. What else do they have in common?
While the Chicago White Sox’ playoff appearance was a surprise to many, the Toronto Blue Jays were as much so if not more so. If Toronto is going to go further in the playoffs, their starting pitching will have to produce playoff-like performances. Hyun Jin Ryu is Toronto’s number-one starter and has plenty of playoff experience being there every year since 2013. In two starts, he threw 14 innings of shutout ball. But in three other starts, he gave up 15 total earned runs so he’s no guarantee. Taijuan Walker has an ERA of 1.37 in six starts. The problem really are the other starting options, which aren’t options at all because their ERAs are over 6.00. If they can get to a third game, it would have to be a bullpen game.
For Tampa, Blake Snell has appeared in three postseason games and given up a single run. After him are Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough and Charlie Morton. Morton didn’t have a particularly good year, but he has playoff bonafides having led the way for Houston in a relief role last year and the year before. Tampa had the best record in the American League (40-20), two shy of The Spitter’s projection while Toronto won 32, just one shy or our prognostications. Typically, big pitching beats big offense.
Offensively, Toronto is a better hitting club. Tampa is a better walking club. Umpires’ strike zones are going to be especially important. If the pitchers are getting squeezed, the advantage goes to Tampa. If the strike zones are big, their lack of aggressiveness will bite them.
In total, Tampa’s pitching and plate discipline should win the series. But if the pitchers can’t find the strike zone, Toronto’s Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez can make them pay. I’m a lot more afraid of them than I am Tampa’s Joey Wendle and Willy Adames.
Who wins? It still goes back to pitching. Pitching wins, just about every time. Tampa simply has more.