Slowly but surely they are inching forward. The division is ripe for the taking. This isn’t the same AL East as years past. There are holes on every team. There are issues that are preventing any one team from surging making these inter-divisional games even more important than years past.
The Blue Jays have not been very good at these matchups before but if they want to finally take the division they have to become the team that puts it all together and starts to beat up the division. Their depth is greater and their pitching has been average with glimpses of hope going forward. The starting rotation is stabilizing and the hitters are doing what is needed.
Can they finally take over? This series will be a good test to see if they can.
The Red Sox have lost four straight and are one of few teams to use only 5 pitchers in the starting rotation this year. Looking at some of the numbers it is a wonder that this is the case. High ERAs and inabilities to go deep into games have the Red Sox playing catch up a lot of the time. Thing is they are always one of the toughest teams to face at home and they are very capable of putting on a decent winning streak to keep themselves in the picture. With the likes of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia you can never count them out.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Happ is coming off a strong start and has started to slowly improving. His WHIP still needs to drop and he certainly is throwing his fair share of pitches but he is definitely bulldogging his way forward. He will always give up his fair share of hits but as long as he keeps them to singles and the occasional double he will keep the team in the game…that and proving his ability to stretch out beyond 6 innings which seems to be the major issue with out starters and the overwork of an already shaky bullpen this year.
Doubront finally seems to be living up to his potential. He still gives up more than a hit an inning and his K:BB is pretty average but he has given up minimal runs the last few starts and his dropping ERA is reflective of that. His ERA is hovering around his career average but that is fine for this rotation. He isn’t expected to be a 1. He is expected to just keep the game close and allow the hitters to take over…kind of like Happ. This could be a slugfest and I see it dropping into the laps of the visitors. Strike 1 Bostonians!
So who has had the best pitching performance for the Blue Jays so far? Hutch is the answer. A complete game shutout on the road against a pretty decent hitting Texas Rangers team. He has had his share of dud starts but that was usually because of “the big inning”. Hutch has performed better than R.A. Dickey, Happ and pretty much any hurler not named Buehrle. Hutch has cemented his spot on the rotation and with the likes of Marcus Stroman, Sean Nolin and Aaron Sanchez moving up the starting rotation is looking bright.
Clay Buchholz has lost it. His ERA is 2.5 time higher than his career ERA. His BAA against could win a batting title (.337) and his WHIP is disgraceful. If not for some semblance of track record he would be toiling in the minors or riding the pine as a mop up reliever. He has had decent games in the past but as of now this looks like a complete mismatch. Let’s give this to the good guys as well.
Now this should be a tried and true pitching duel. Buehrle Has been nothing short of brilliant through the first part of the season. 9 starts. 8 giving up 2 runs or less. His BAA against is the second lowest of his career and it is being done with the proverbial smoke and mirrors of the crafty lefty. Fenway can cause havoc for lefties but Buehrle has the guile to get through. Or does he against…
Jon Lester. Aside from a rather ordinary 2012 season he has been in the top half of starters in all of baseball. He has been a stalwart in the rotation, gives up less than a hit an inning and can get himself deep into games to save the bullpen. Just because it is Boston I am going to have to give Lester the win for this duel.
Probable Starting Lineups
Toronto Blue Jays
Boston Red Sox
Worth the Price of Admission: David Ortiz just continues to hit. When it’s all said and done he may go down as the greatest DH in the history of baseball. 442 homeruns and a .930 OPS for the career. He pretty much is a definitive hall of famer.
Worth the Price of a Cup of Tea: Jackie Bradley Jr. sure can catch the ball…aaaaand that’s about it. He is hovering around the mendoza line and his OPS is sickeningly poor. Unless he begins to hit he will eventually be taken out and become a professional late inning defensive specialist and pinch runner. Grand.