Jun 26, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Emilio Bonifacio (1) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (43-45, 5th AL East) vs Cleveland Indians (46-43, 2nd AL West)


These next 6 games are vital. That is all there is to it. Sure we can say that if they finish at .500 by going 4-2 on the road before the All Star Game they have a chance going forward. I say if they don’t go 6-0 they can kiss their chances at the post-season goodbye. The need to regroup over the all star break is vital. The starters all need to take a few days off and really think about their performances. So should we. I dig Josh Johnson but maybe he and R.A. Dickey are in over their heads playing the in AL. It is a different offensive beast in the American League. The starters have all seemed to bottom out (save for Mark Buehrle). And don’t get on me about Todd Redmond. One start does not a starter make. Let’s hope it will be a night and day scenario between the first half and the second half.

The Indians have been consistently making noise all season. Second in a downtrodden AL Central. Being second to an underachieving Tiger team is not so bad….heck they were even in first place for a while. Their M.O. the last couple years have been blazing hot starts and ice cold finishes to the season. Are they able to take the next step and play consistently through 162 games. Their offence, led my Jason Kipnis at 2nd, is carrying this team. Aside from Justin Masterson they have Zack McAllister throwing decently in the rotation and every starter with more than 10 starts has an ERA under 5.00. If they can solve their bullpen problems then perhaps they can move on to the next level and take on a Tiger’s team that for whatever reason hasn’t run away to hide from the rest of the division.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Josh Johnson (1-3, 4.89 ERA) vs Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4, 4.67 ERA)
Game 2: Esmil Rogers (3-4, 3.84 ERA) vs Justin Masterson (10-7, 3.78 ERA)
Game 3: Mark Buehrle (5-5, 4.50 ERA) vs TBD

Johnson is treading water. This may turn out to be one of the worst seasons of his very good career…and in his free agency year. It is that last part that always leaves me wondering. His velocity has been there but his command seems to be off. If he is still recovering from his DL stint, even if it’s just a bit, then perhaps the command is going to be there in the second half. He is up over a run and a half from his career ERA of 3.25. This is a near decade long career. There is a track record. He may not win this game but I am keen to see what the second half brings.

Ubaldo Jimenez was a rock star with Colorado in 2010. 2.88 ERA. 4 complete games. 214 strikeouts. He seemed to be an up and comer. he has kind of leveled off into a decent mid rotation starter who just had a great year that year. He is capable of big things and knowing that the offense behind you can help out, Jimenez is capable of a win at any time. I hope it goes our way but meh…something is still missing.

Esmil Rogers has truly done a great job so far in the rotation. Everyone has bad games. I still want to see if he is capable of overcoming his recent misfortunes (7 earned last time out). With the way he started in the rotation, truly seizing his opportunity, he has earned the right to try and keep his spot in the rotation. If he flubs it then perhaps it will be easier to add Morrow back into the rotation and just add another stellar arm to a tradethe bullpen.

Justin Masterson has been pretty much the ace of the Indians staff. I would say he is more suited for a 3rd starter in a championship rotation. His ERA is ok but not elite and he has been maddeningly inconsistent all season. No one stat stands out. He only has a opp BAA of .229 so he just seems to prone to the big hit. Good thing we are bringing some sluggers into the Indians realm. This could be a hit fest folks.

I was one of the first of the legions of fans who thought Buehrle was done. I am here to say I was wrong. Oh I was so very very wrong. I couldn’t have been wronger (yes I know…). He is pitching as he always has. You talk about consistent he is just that. He gives you a chance to win every game. His ERA in his last 10 games is 3.19. I don’t even remember when he sucked. I am just seeing what it is like to watch a man who knows how to pitch. I still see him as a David Wells type. He just gets the job done. And for that reason I think we got this game no matter what Triple A arm they toss at us.

Probable Starters

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. RF: Jose Bautista
3. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
4. DH: Adam Lind
5. 3B: Mark DeRosa
6. LF: Rajai Davis
7. CF: Colby Rasmus
8. C: J.P. Arencibia
9. 2B: Maicer Izturis

Cleveland Indians

1. CF: Michael Bourn
2. SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
3. 2B: Jason Kipnis
4. 1B: Nick Swisher
5. LF: Michael Brantley
6. C: Carlos Santana
7. DH: Mark Reynolds
8. 3B: Lonnie Chisenhall
9. RF: Drew Stubbs

Final Word

It is going to get interesting to see how long Emilio Bonifacio is going to be relevant to this 2013 team. I think his season is salvageable but when you are hitting .208 there is nowhere to go but up. Let’s call it the Josh Johnson syndrome. Your track record says so much more than what you have shown so far. I would love to keep him but I see Bonifacio and maybe perhaps Casey Janssen being used as dangles to get us a starter (yes i totally agree with Dirk Hayhurst…sell high when you have the bullpen we have). Maybe add a Moises Sierra to a package and I think you could get an innings eater which we desperately need. Start up the hot stoves because this is going to be a very interesting time. After this road trip we may have to declare what we are…buyers or sellers. What are we?

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