Blue Jays face tough test in must-win with Gray on mound for Twins
The Toronto Blue Jays will face a tough test to keep their season alive with Sonny Gray taking to the mound for the Minnesota Twins in Game 2 of their wild-card series on Wednesday.
Gray posted an 8-8 record in the regular season, but shined with a 2.79 ERA, which was second-best to the American League behind New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Gray also ranked in the top 10 among American League pitchers in WHIP (1.147), hits per nine innings pitched (7.63), and wins above replacement (5.4), finishing second to Cole in that category as well.
The 33-year-old righty is 0-2 in his career in the postseason in four starts, but his stats paint a different story. Over those four games, Gray has a 2.95 ERA with a WHIP of 1.22 and 18 strikeouts over 21 and a third innings.
If Gray can pick up his first career playoff win, the Twins will secure their place in the AL Division Series against the Houston Astros.
The Blue Jays will counter with Jose Berrios as they look to keep their season alive and force a Game 3 in Minnesota.
Berrios went 11-12 in the regular season over 32 starts, finishing 10th in the AL with an ERA of 3.65. He had a WHP of 1.19 with 184 strikeouts over 189 and two-thirds innings pitched.
The 29-year-old righty is also seeking his first career postseason win, after going winless during his time with Minnesota before joining the Blue Jays.
Berrios pitched in three playoff games for the Twins, including two starts, recording a 3.75 ERA over 12 innings.
Over six years in Minnesota, Berrios was named an All-Star in 2018 and 2019, posting a 55-43 record with a 4.08 ERA and 779 strikeouts in 781.1 innings of work.
“I appreciate being in the ballpark where I grew up as a Major League Baseball player and also a minor-league player in this organization,” Berrios said this week, per MLB.com. “So it's going to be fun. I'm going to enjoy it. I've got my family here. I've got my little one, Diego, he was born in Minnesota.
"It's going to be special pitching against old friends, old teammates.”
Should Game 3 be necessary, Chris Bassitt is expected to get the call for the Blue Jays, though starter Yusei Kikuchi is also available.
“Our back is against the wall tomorrow,” Jays slugger Brandon Belt said after the Game 1 loss. “We’ve got to show up and play our best baseball of the year, but it’s definitely not impossible.
“I’ve played a lot of elimination games, and we’ve come through in a lot of them.”