Jun 13, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Drew Hutchison (36) pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Blue Jays looking to distance themselves from the Yankees


Hey kids. After a short hiatus (thanks Kyle) I am back to lend my two cents on what is going on in Blue Jays land leading up to their next series which is against the Bronx Bombers this time around.

A split with Baltimore isn’t too concerning given how the Blue Jays have played recently. They were inevitably going to crash down to earth as only the elite of the elite over baseball history have been able to keep the pace they were setting in the month of May.

They clobbered their way to a 21-9 record and have come back to earth a bit in June (8-6) but a winning record is still a winning record
They clobbered their way to a 21-9 record and have come back to earth a bit in June (8-6) but a winning record is still a winning record. The question is can we truly take advantage of a Yankees team that is getting by but by no means is a lock for post-season anything given the state of their rotation. We need to step on their proverbial necks and push them further down the AL East standings. With 6 of the next 9 games against the Yanks it is time to do what this team was put together to go.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Marcus Stroman (3-1, 5.18 ERA) vs Masahiro Tanaka (10-1, 2.02 ERA)

Stroman hasn`t been lights out but he truly has been better than you would expect from a 2012 draft pick in the majors already. His stature doesn`t seem to matter as his slider keeps moving madly regardless of the plane it came in on. Being a strike thrower is a good thing and with better command of his plus fastball will keep the BAA against low. For now it is at .324 and dropping. Stroman has finished the 6th inning in his 3 starts. Hopefully he can get the pitch count down and get a little further into the game. The Yankees lineup still has a lot of patient, work the count hitters but not as many as before. Stroman definitely has a chance to keep the bats in check. Unfortunately he is going up against that guy.

That guy just happens to be pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka. His ERA is the lowest in the American League and second in baseball. His 10 wins are first as well.His K:BB is a ridiculous 103:14 in 93.2 innings. WHIP is .940. There is nothing not to like about this guy. Without him the Yankees would already be buried in the basement of the AL East. His performance has allowed the Yankees to break in a few arms until they found a few that have taken flight in the rotation. Cy Young will be calling his name a few times before his career is over. Sorry Jays fans…this game is theirs to lose.

Game 2: Mark Buehrle (10-3, 2.28 ERA) vs Chase Whitley (2-0, 2.41 ERA)

Buehrle has hit a wall. This is it he’s done. 2 losses in a row. Pull him from the rotation will ya before this steamrolls? Or maybe leave him in with the assurance that he is the classic crafty lefty who knows how to pitch and knows what it takes to work the hitters in their minds. With an ERA+ of 180 he is truly having a career year. All he needs is to add to his two no-hitters and place himself in the annals of Blue Jays history. If not I can be content with being a 20 game winner who just does what is needed to win. Truly a pro’s pro.

Whitley is a 15th round, 25 year old young gun who has steadily worked his way up to the big show and has more than held his own…kind of like the Yankee version of Drew Hutchison. He has impressive, almost Tanaka-like numbers. He has given up less than a hit an inning and his WHIP is amazing at 1.01. If he can keep this up and C.C. Sabathia comes back to a decent form and Hiroki Kuroda can step it up then they have a chance. Whitley is right in line with his minor league numbers (check out baseball-reference.com) so this could be a very low scoring game. Give it to the Jays…for no reason but my calculated guess.

Game 3: Drew Hutchison (5-4, 3.62 ERA) vs David Phelps (2-4, 4.32 ERA)

Drew Hutchison came back from a rather brutal game against the St. Louis Cardinals and tossed up 7 shutout innings against a powerful Baltimore Orioles lineup led by homerun leader Nelson Cruz. His strikeout numbers were kind of low but he didn’t walk a man and relied heavily on the much improved from last season defense to help him through the game. Hutch will never be a big strikeout guy but he won’t give up to many hits either. He is efficient and has the capabilities to win pretty much every time out…well when he gets his consistency.

David Phelps started out ok in the rotation when he was summoned out of the bullpen but has been the model of inconsistent the last few times out. Sure he tossed 6.2 shutout innings against a very good Oakland offense but just before that he gave up 7 to the Kansas City Royals the start before. In his minor league days he was a hit per inning type of guy with ok strikeout numbers and an average WHIP. He has been better than that so far so expect some regression as the league starts to figure it out. This looks like it could be a win in the rubber match of the series.

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Melky Cabrera
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
5. 3B: Brett Lawrie
6. DH: Juan Francisco
7. C: Dioner Navarro
8. 2B: Steve Tolleson
9. CF: Anthony Gose

New York Yankees

1. LF: Brett Gardner
2. SS: Derek Jeter
3. CF: Jacoby Ellsbury
4. RF: Alfonso Soriano
5. 1B: Mark Teixeira
6. C: Brian McCann
7. DH: Carlos Beltran
8. 2B: Yangervis Solarte
9. 3B: Kelly Johnson

Worth the Price of Admission: Masahiro Tanaka. The most likely unanimous rookie of the year has been everything he was hyped to be. This season could be the beginning of a Hall of Fame career, injuries aside. Sit back and enjoy.

Worth the Price of a Pizza Slice from Gino’s: Kelly Johnson. Only playing third because there really is no one else. How he keeps trolling through AL East teams is beyond me…he truly is the epitomy of below average major leaguer.

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Tags: Blue Jays Marcus Stroman