Blue Jays vs. Phillies preview: Two clubs in the heat of the wild-card race

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ross Stripling (48) throws the ball during first inning AL MLB baseball action against the Baltimore Orioles, in Toronto on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. (Christopher Katsarov/CP)

The Toronto Blue Jays wrap up interleague play for 2022 with a two-game series in Philadelphia against the Phillies. 

Both teams sit in wild-card spots in their respective leagues entering the mini-series. 

Here’s a look at the matchup. 

Probable pitchers 

Tuesday, 6:45 p.m. ET / 3:45 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Ross Stripling (8-4, 2.94 ERA) vs. Philadelphia RHP Kyle Gibson (10-6, 4.45 ERA)

Wednesday, 6:45 p.m. ET / 3:45 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.45 EA) vs. Philadelphia RHP Zack Wheeler (11-7, 3.07 ERA)

Both games on Sportsnet.

Latest on the Blue Jays 

The Blue Jays (83-64) finished a key eight-game homestand with a 5-3 record after a 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday. 

Toronto was in position for a three-game sweep taking a 3-2 lead into the ninth, but a rare stumble by closer Jordan Romano allowed the Orioles to score three runs. 

George Springer missed a game-tying homer by inches, settling for a double, before the Orioles closed it out to salvage a game. 

Still, it was a solid week for the Blue Jays, who played eight games in seven days. They hold down the top spot in the American League wild-card race, one game up on the Tampa Bay Rays and 1.5 ahead of the Seattle Mariners. 

The Baltimore Orioles, who need to overtake one of those teams to make the playoffs, are now 6.5 games back of Toronto. 

Latest on the Phillies 

The Phillies (80-66) have let their lead slip in the playoff race after getting swept last weekend against the Atlanta Braves. 

Losers of four in a row on the heels of a five-game win streak, the Phillies hold down the third and final wild-card spot in the National League, sitting 2.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. 

A 5-2 loss on Sunday marked the first loss for starter Bailey Falter in his past seven starts. 

The Phillies couldn’t get much offence going against Braves starter Spencer Strider, who took a no-hitter into the sixth and struck out 10 

New skippers 

The Blue Jays and Phillies both are in playoff spots after firing managers and promoting bench coaches to become interim skippers this year. 

The Blue Jays are 47-32 (.595) under John Schneider after firing Charlie Montoyo in July. 

The Phillies are 58-37 (.611) under Canadian Rob Thomson after firing Joe Girardi in June. 

Schneider’s first game was against the Phillies in Toronto on July 13, hours after Montoyo was fired. 

Thomson, a native of Corunna, Ont., is the first Canadian full-time manager since 1934. 

Season series 

The Blue Jays swept the mini-series at Rogers Centre in July with Montoyo watching his team win 4-3 in his final game before Schneider witnessed an 8-2 victory. 

Stripling (two runs on two hits in seven innings) got the win over Wheeler (six runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings) in the finale. 

The Phillies had four regulars on the restricted list for the series in Toronto, including Tuesday’s starter – Gibson. 

Injury report 

Wheeler, an NL all-star and strikeout leader last season, returns from the IL (forearm tendinitis) to make the start Wednesday. He’ll be on a pitch count, with former top Jays prospect Noah Syndergaard moving to the bullpen to follow him. 

Blue Jays all-star catcher Alejandro Kirk (hip soreness) is expected to return Tuesday after missing the past four games. 

Blue Jays outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left hamstring strain) is eligible to come off the IL, but there hasn’t been a clear indication when he’ll be ready. 

Interleague play 

The Blue Jays are 12-6 against the NL this season, while Philadelphia is 7-8 versus the AL. 

Watch out for...

Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber, who leads the NL with 39 home runs and is second only to Aaron Judge in all of MLB. 

He went 0-for-8 against Toronto in July. 

Playoff watch 

The New York Yankees, who are 5.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays for first in the AL East, host the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates in a mini-series starting Tuesday. 

The Rays are in the middle of a three-game series against the AL-leading Houston Astros in Tampa after losing 4-0 on Monday, while the Mariners open a three-game series in Oakland against the last-place A’s. 

The Orioles lost 11-0 on Monday against the weak Detroit Tigers in the opener of a three-game series 

Up next

The Blue Jays conclude a road trip with four games against the Rays. 

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