Analyzing Toronto’s two potential opponents for the upcoming wild card series
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Playoff baseball is returning to Toronto, that’s something we know.
However, who they’ll play in the Wild Card Series is still up in the air.
With the Blue Jays clinching home-field advantage for the Wild Card Series after Monday night’s win versus the Baltimore Orioles, they will be taking on the Seattle Mariners or the Tampa Bay Rays in a best-of-three playoff series. Toronto will play the first game of the series and potential third game at home.
With playoff baseball on deck, here’s what you need to know about the Blue Jays’ potential opponents for this Friday.
The Seattle Mariners
Record: 87 – 72
Toronto’s head to head Record vs Seattle: 2 – 5
The Mariners are back in the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years.
The team is led by former Blue Jays’ ace Robbie Ray, who signed a deal to come to Seattle last offseason, and trade-deadline acquisition Luis Castillo, who’s recorded a 2.37 earned runs average (ERA) since joining the Mariners.
The team also features offensive talents such as rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez, third baseman Eugenio Suarez and first baseman Ty France.
The Mariners are powered by their pitching unit, which ranks seventh in the MLB for ERA (3.57). The offence lags behind, ranking 18th in runs scored per game (4.2) and 28th in team batting average (.228). However, their bats are powered by home run hitters who are capable of making the ball leave the yard at any moment, as they sit 10th in the league for home runs scored this season (190).
While the Blue Jays have a worse record against the Mariners than Tampa Bay, TSN reporter Mark Roe said he believes that a Seattle matchup suits the Blue Jays better than a Tampa Bay matchup, mostly due to Seattle’s lack of playoff experience.
“While both are tough opponents who have areas of their roster that can scare you,” said Roe. “The experience that Tampa Bay can rely on would scare me more than a Mariners team that’s returning to the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years.”
The Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 86 – 74
Toronto’s head-to-head Record vs Tampa Bay: 9 – 10
The Tampa Bay Rays are returning to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
The team is powered by their ace Shane McClanahan, who’s a leader to potentially win the AL Cy Young award. Their pitching rotation also features Corey Kluber and Tyler Glasnow.
Glasnow, who’s been held out for most of the season due to injury, owned a 2.66 ERA in 2021 and was widely considered one of the best pitchers in the MLB last season.
Before Glasnow’s return, the Rays already ranked fourth in the league in ERA (3.66).
“The return of Tyler Glasnow, whether it’s as a starter or a valuable arm in the bullpen, should only make them even tougher,” said Roe.
The offense is serviceable, ranking 18th in runs scored per game (4.2). Led by reigning AL Rookie of the Year Randy Arozerena – who had a historic playoff run in 2020 – and rookie sensation Wander Franco, they are no slouches.
In 2020, the Rays also played the Blue Jays in the COVID-19 expanded style playoffs in a best-of-three series. The Blue Jays lost both games.
“In the past, the Tampa Bay Rays have always given the Blue Jays a hard time,” said Cole Murchison, a first baseman for Cal State University in the NCAA Division Two. “Pitching and defense is what’s proven to help win playoff games, and I believe that the Rays are better than that over Seattle”.
The Blue Jays will more than likely take on the Mariners in Friday’s Wild Card series. The Mariners currently have a 1.5 game lead over the Rays for the second spot in the AL Wild Card standings.
The Jays are set to take on one of these two squads on Friday night to begin their postseason run.
Copy editor, On The Record, Fall 2022