Jun 6, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman delivers a pitch against St. Louis Cardinals at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Twins Looking to keep Blue Jays Bats Pacified


People, people! This is no time to freak out. So we lost a series. We got shut out twice. No biggie. In a season as long as the baseball one is we know that there will be down times as well as up. The Blue Jays offense merely came back to earth for a couple games against the NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals. It wasn’t Wacha or Wainright but the pitchers were good enough to record back to back shut outs (Damn you Miller…you too Garcia). Now that the Blue Jays got that out of their system they look over their shoulders to see the Minnesota Twins coming to town and looking to take advantage of a wide open AL Central division. Jose Reyes is playing his best ball in years hitting .313 in his last 28 games…the Blue Jays are 20-8 in those games. SO as important as it has been for us to mash the ball we still need to play that small ball that can drive other teams crazy.

The Twins are pretty average right now. In other years they would have been buried in the AL Central basement….

Aug 30, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels

well ok they are still in the basement but they are also only 5 games back of the Tigers. It is still anyone’s division but with the help of newly signed DH Kendry Morales it is going to be a dogfight until game 162. That is unless the Twins pitchers keep pitching the way they have. Last in the AL in ERA and a few starters who most likely shouldn’t be starting and are keeping their job due to necessity and not want. They have a chance but the starting staff especially needs to help out more.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Ricky Nolasco (4-5, 5.65 ERA) vs R.A. Dickey (6-4, 4.25 ERA)

So this is their number one. Getting hit to the tune of .313 and a WHIP of 1.53. Since the dawn of baseball time, it has been apparent that pitching will more or less always beat hitting. Nolasco was brought in to help stabilize a Twins team that went nowhere last year. The signings of Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey was supposed to give new life to a Twins team that isn’t great at hitting but good enough to contend. Nolasco has yet to live up to the guise of being a number one…and this is just year one of those deals…oh my…

Dickey has been adequate. He is by far not a true number one anymore and is slowly sliding down the depth chart behind Mark Buehrle and Drew Hutchison…which actually sets up the rotation a bit better than it did at the beginning of the year. He is starting to kill our bullpen with these short outings though. In order for the Blue Jays to survive the full season we need Dickey doing 6 innings minimum. Due to the nature of his repertoire this should be easy. Dickey keeps getting high pitch count and walk totals. Perhaps he needs to utilize his pitches better. He has the know how but can it translate onto the mound? This one looks like an offensive show that only the Rogers Centre can provide.

Game 2: Kevin Correia (2-7, 6.11 ERA) vs J.A. Happ (5-2, 4.12 ERA)

Guys like Correia make you wonder why we don’t contract a few teams and squeeze some of the uselessness elsewhere…to the Independent or Appy Leagues. His career BAA is .278 and this year he is topping that with a hefty .321 BAA Against. As a starter he has never been more than one win above .500. He is an innings eater and every rotation needs one. You would hope those eaters were more Bronson Arroyo than Kevin Correia.

Guys like Correia make you wonder why we don’t contract a few teams and squeeze some of the uselessness elsewhere…to the Independent or Appy Leagues

J.A. Happ could be more Arroyo than Correia if he ever found a way to keep his pitch count down.He has the stuff, the bulldog mentality and the will to be that man. He is slowly being stretched out more and has been ok as a fourth starter. If he could up his Ks by two a game and down his walks the same aaaaand throw 10 fewer fouled balls (he gives up a lot of foul balls it would seem) he could be the fourth starter on a division winning team. The outcome of this game seems rather easy to predict…it’s never easy to predict. Give this one to the good guys.

Game 3: Phil Hughes (6-2, 3.46 ERA) vs Marcus Stroman (3-0, 5.40 ERA)

Phil Hughes seems to have finally begun to fulfill the potential he showed flashes of with the Yankees. Sometimes a change of scenery can do such good to an athlete. Hughes has been one of the bet starters so far in the AL. He is going deep into games, in his past ten games he has given up 3 or less runs 8 times. He had a bit of a blow up against the Astros in his last start but he still went 6 and K’d 7 guys. His stuff is there. He is spotting his fastball better and the results are great. Imagine where the Twins would be without him.

Bullpen debut aside it has been a fairly good transition to the major leagues for Marcus Stroman. He has spotted his fastball well and flashes quite the wicked little slider. Whether Stroman can go long term in the rotation or not remains to be seen. He has proven people wrong all over baseball by even getting here this fast given his stature. Someone has to be the best below average height-wise pitcher. Stroman will be in that conversation in the coming years. For now he is proving to the league that he is going to be another integral piece of a division winning team.

Probable Starting Lineups

Minnesota Twins

1. CF: Danny Santana
2. 2B: Brian Dozier
3. 3B: Trevor Plouffe
4. LF: Josh Willingham
5. DH: Oswaldo Arcia
6. RF: Eduardo Nunez
7. 1B: Chris Parmelee
8. C: Josmil Pinto
9. SS: Eduardo Escobar

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Melky Cabrera
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. DH: Edwin Encarnacion
5. 1B: Adam Lind
6. 2B: Brett Lawrie
7. 3B: Juan Francisco
8. C: Josh Thole
9. CF: Anthony Gose

Worth the Price of Admission: Marcus Stroman. As I said he is proving he belongs here. The Blue Jays will now have 2 pitchers in the rotation who got to the big leagues by age 23 in Drew Hutchison and Stroman. The future is looking bright in Toronto.

Worth the Price of a Fired Member of Drake’s Posse: Kevin Correia. Look above for reasoning…

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