Blue Jays vs. Rays series preview: Can Toronto take advantage of Tampa's struggles?

J.P. Morosi joins Ken Reid in the studio to break down the latest rumours ahead of the MLB trade deadline, why the Blue Jays haven't made a move yet, what it may cost, their interest in Juan Soto, and their player wishlist.

After a beach-themed party Sunday night in Florida and an off-day in the Sunshine State on Monday, the Toronto Blue Jays get back to business on Tuesday when they open a mini-series against the struggling Tampa Bay Rays.

The Blue Jays are 11-3 under interim manager John Schneider, but the team has a woeful all-time record of 84-127 at Tampa’s Tropicana Field.

Coming off a 4-2 homestand, the Blue Jays now play nine in a row on the road.

Here’s a look at the Blue Jays-Rays series -- which starts just over an hour after Tuesday's trade deadline.

Probable Pitchers

Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. ET / 4:10 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (7-8, 3.30 ERA) vs. Tampa RHP Drew Rasmussen (6-3, 3.17 ERA)

Wednesday, 12:10 p.m. ET / 9:10 a.m. PT: Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (4-5, 4.89 ERA) vs. Tampa TBA

(Both games on Sportsnet)

Latest on the Blue Jays

The Blue Jays (57-45) took three of four from the Detroit Tigers over the weekend at Rogers Centre.

While the Tigers are one of the worst teams in the American League, the Blue Jays had to scratch and claw for all of their wins.

Teoscar Hernandez had the big blow in a 5-3 win on Saturday, smashing a three-run homer in the sixth, while Jose Berrios pitched seven innings of one-run ball on Sunday.

Third baseman Matt Chapman is red hot. He was 5-for-10 in the Detroit series with four home runs.

Latest on the Rays

The Rays (54-48) have lost seven of 10 since the All-Star break, including two of three over the weekend against the Cleveland Guardians.

The slump has dropped the Rays into a tie for second with the Seattle Mariners in the wild-card race, three games behind the Blue Jays.

Rays ace Shane McClanahan, a Cy Young candidate, allowed a season-high five runs in a 5-3 loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

The Rays have been hit extremely hard by injuries.

At one point last month, they had 17 players on the injured list.

Hey (Jose) Siri, can you help the Rays?

With so many players hurt, the Rays have been busy trying to bolster their roster before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET trade deadline.

Tampa acquired outfielder Jose Siri from the Houston Astros in a three-team deal Monday and added bullpen depth by trading with the Los Angeles Dodgers for left-hander Garrett Cleavinger.

On Saturday, the Rays traded with the Arizona Diamondbacks to land another outfielder – David Peralta.

The Rays, managed by two-time reigning AL manager of the year Kevin Cash, are looking to advance to the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

Season series

As usual, the Rays have been a problem for the Blue Jays this year, winning two of three in Tampa in May and three of five over Canada Day weekend in Toronto.

The series at Rogers Centre was particularly ugly for the Blue Jays, who saw Gausman suffer an ankle injury that kept him out a couple of weeks when he was hit by a Wander Franco comebacker early in a 6-2 loss (Franco is now sidelined with a wrist injury). The Gausman setback was followed by an ugly 11-5 loss in the second game of a doubleheader, which exposed Toronto's lack of pitching depth, and a 7-3 defeat in the series finale.

The Blue Jays then went 1-6 on a road trip to Oakland and Seattle, essentially spelling the end for Toronto manager and former Rays coach Charlie Montoyo.

Kikuchi gets another shot

Wednesday will mark the second start in a row for Kikuchi after a stint on the injured list with a neck strain, which followed a string of mostly bad starts.

His lone quality outing in June was against Tampa on the final day of the month when he allowed one run in six innings for the win.

Kikuchi gave up one run on two hits in five innings last week for a win against Detroit in his return.

Up next

The Blue Jays head to Minnesota for four games against the AL Central-leading Twins and then go to Baltimore for three versus the much-improved Orioles.

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