The fall of the Texas Rangers has reached catastrophic levels, as they find themselves now out of a playoff spot altogether. With the Blue Jays holding one of those Wild Card spots, the importance of this series for both teams is at an all-time high, and we’ll preview the opening game before going over which side we’ll be backing.
Texas desperately needed a series against a lesser opponent, and they got one over the weekend by getting to host the Oakland A’s. Despite losing the first game, the Rangers ultimately won the next two and the series, giving them a 3-7 record over their last ten games. In their 9-4 win yesterday, Corey Seager and Marcus Semien continued to carry the team by going a combined 6-10 with three home runs, two doubles, and three RBIs.
Now back on the road after nine games at home, the Texas Rangers will send Dane Dunning to the mound to open their series with the Blue Jays. Dunning is one of the many Rangers players to hit a rough patch at a bad time, as he has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last four outings. When Dunning last took the mound, he allowed nine earned runs on 11 hits in a 5.1-inning start against the Astros.
The Rangers right-hander has a tough matchup ahead of him tonight with a Blue Jays offense that is fresh off a sweep over the Royals in which they scored 15 runs across the three games. After starting slow yesterday, the Blue Jays offense would break a 2-2 tie in the 7th courtesy of a Kevin Kiermaier solo shot. From there, Toronto would tack on three more runs to give them a 5-2 win.
As they look to remain in their playoff position, Toronto will have Chris Bassitt on the bump tonight to make his 30th start of the year. The right-hander has been phenomenal over his last two outings, turning in two straight eight-inning performances, the first of which being a shutout, and in his most recent, he allowed just one earned run. Those two starts gave Bassitt a 3.69 ERA across 173.3 innings this season.
The Blue Jays are currently listed at (-134) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Both teams have put up fairly similar numbers when facing right-handed pitchers as of late, but Toronto holds the edge when it comes to both starting pitching and the bullpen. With Dunning’s struggles recently, the Blue Jays should be able to find the run column early and build on a possible lead off the Rangers bullpen.
Entering tonight, Dunning is in the 38th percentile in hard hit percentage, 31st percentile in expected ERA, and 23rd percentile in expected batting average. Toronto ranks 10th in OPS and 9th in wOBA and wRC+ against righties over the past month, so they have an ideal matchup tonight, especially since the Texas bullpen has the highest FIP in the league since August 11th at 6.30.
The Rangers offense is not far behind Toronto when it comes to facing righties in the past month, as they are 14th in wRC+ and 13th in wOBA. Still, the difference is Chris Bassitt is in the 71st percentile in hard hit percentage and 48th percentile in expected batting average. In 90 innings, Bassitt also has a 2.80 ERA at home and will hand the ball to a Jays bullpen with the 7th-best xFIP in the league over the past month.
Toronto Blue Jays (-134)