After a two-game doubleheader to kick the season off on Thursday, most MLB teams will be in action on Friday, including an American League East contest featuring the Tampa Bay Rays hosting the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rays (-160) are the home favorite in the tilt with a scheduled first pitch at 6:40 p.m. EST inside Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Fla.
What to Know – Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays finished the 2019 season with a 67-95 record, including a 32-49 record away from Toronto. The Blue Jays possess a lot of firepower on offense, which they will need to rely on this season to offset their below-average pitching staff.
One of baseball’s biggest stories as we head into the season is the Blue Jays search for a home field after the Canadian federal government denied the Blue Jays from playing their home games in Toronto due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Toronto signed former Dodger ace Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-5, 2.32 ERA, 1.01 WHIP last season) in the offseason, and the left-hander will be making his debut in a Blue Jays’ uniform in the opener. Ryu had the lowest ERA in the majors last season. Ken Giles will continue to close our contests for Toronto after a solid 2019 campaign.
On offense, the Blue Jays ushered in some young talent last season that will anchor a lineup that averaged 4.5 runs per game and was ninth in the majors in home runs (247). Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavin Biggo, the sons of former major leaguers Vladimir Guerrero and Craig Biggo, bring a spark to the Blue Jays offense. Bo Bichette and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. bring additional youth to Toronto.
What to Know – Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Rays finished the regular season second in the AL East behind the New York Yankees with a record of 96-66. They ended up falling to the Houston Astros in the first round of the postseason.
The Rays roll out Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA, 1.08 WHIP last season) in his second season as a member of the Rays franchise. Morton, the two-time All-Star, finished last season ninth in the majors in strikeouts (240).
Tampa is uncertain if they will have one of their key offensive players in Austin Meadows (.291 AVG, 33 HRs, 89 RBI last season) who tested positive for COVID-19 last week. If Meadows is not prepared for the opening day, the Rays will rely on a pair of young prospects in Brandon Lowe and Willy Adames to lead an offense that was middle of the pack in most categories last season.
Tampa finished to 2019 season with a respectable 48-33 record at home, includes 43-27 as favorites.
The Pick Is In
This matchup is going to be a great contest featuring a solid pitching matchup and young offensive studs. If this game were in Toronto, it would make the selection more interesting. But at Tropicana, we like the Tampa Bay Rays (-160) in a one-run contest.