Jun 19, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (5) argues a call with umpire Chris Conroy (98) during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Blue Jays hope to not see more red in Cincinnati

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New York was like a proverbial bloodletting. Once we start to turn it around in Tampa Bay, which used to be a graveyard for the Blue Jays in season’s past, New York has suddenly become the road trip city from hell. 16 straight losses. Most games never really blowouts but just watching the team it’s like they crumble under the extra bright lights of the Big Apple. Too much post-game fun? What is it about the Yankees (aside from Masahiro Tanaka) that puts an extra rock in the shorts of the Blue Jays?

Cincinnati has been muddling around or below .500 for much of the season in the NL Central. Their pitching is mediocre as a group and the hitting as well. It is a team with potential and has some surprises in terms of career reliever turned 10 game winner Alfredo Simon and lights out closer Jonathan Broxton has a 0.40 ERA.

It seems the Reds get great performances but they haven’t gelled yet as a team.

It seems the Reds get great performances but they haven’t gelled yet as a team. There is still a lot of season to be played and they may be catching the Blue Jays at the right time.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1:Liam Hendriks (1-0, 2.31 ERA) vs Mat Latos (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

It’s getting to the dog days of summer soon and it would seem John Gibbons thinks the starters need an extra days rest so instead of seeing R.A. Dickey take his turn we are bringing up Liam Hendriks who had a couple of good spot starts earlier in the season. He isn’t overpowering and has to rely on location to get through but he has been in the Show before…albeit with some terrible results in Minnesota. There isn’t much to go o but he has had a strong season. Maybe he is the shot in the arm the team needs to get over this inevitable slump.

Latos just got back from the disabled list and goes out in his first start to throw 6 innings with 2 hits, 4 strikeouts and nary a walk. He could be the shot in the arm to jettison up the NL Central standings. Combine him with ace Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake this is a damn good looking rotation going forward. Expect Latos to build off that first start and hand the Jays another L.

Game 2: J.A. Happ (6-3, 4.05 ERA) vs Mike Leake (4-6. 3.80 ERA)

I keep expecting an inevitable fallout with J.A. Happ. He always seems like he is about to crumble then he pulls off one of the best starts of the year for the Blue Jays 7 innings of shutout ball with 6 strikeouts. He still gave up seven hits but again he, for the most part, keeps those extra runners from scoring. As long as he keeps proving me wrong all will be good with his starts…most of them.

Mike Leake has had an up and down career since bursting onto the scene in 2010. He gives up his hits and doesn’t walk too many. He also has a GO/AO of 1.62 this season. He started the season off very well but seems to be slowly coming down to earth because his ERA has steadily risen the past 5 starts. The Jays looked poised to take this one.

Game 3: R.A. Dickey (6-5, 4.08 ERA) vs Johnny Cueto (6-5, 1.92 ERA)

Dickey is still just being average to almost better than. I love he keeps it to two runs the last few games but it is imperative that he get to the 7th even 8th inning. Maybe his knuckleball is no longer knuckling the way it needs. Perhaps a more traditional pitch would help… as in an old fashioned Niekro knuckler. Go back to the basics. If he doesn’t figure it out soon our bullpen is going to be tapped. We need an innings eater. Dickey can hopefully give us what the Blue Jays need.

Unfortunately for us Jays folk we are running into perhaps the best pitcher in the NL not named Kershaw. Cueto has put it all together. His WHIP so far is an amazing 0.83. Oh and there is that 0.68 ERA in da games…and this is a day game. There isn’t much more to say except I see Cincy taking this one easily.

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays

  1.  SS: Jose Reyes
  2.  LF: Melky Cabrera
  3.  RF: Jose Bautista
  4.  1B: Edwin Encarnacion
  5.  3B: Juan Francisco
  6.  C: Josh Thole
  7.  CF: Colby Rasmus
  8.  2B: Steve Tolleson

Cincinnati Reds

  1.  CF: Billy Hamilton
  2.  3B: Todd Frazier
  3.  1B: Joey Votto
  4.  2B: Brandon Phillips
  5.  RF: Jay Bruce
  6.  C: Devin Mesoraco
  7.  LF: Skip Schumaker
  8.  SS: Zach Cozart

Worth the Price of Admission: Joey Votto. He may behaving an injury plagued season and his stats are down a bit but he still may end up being the greatest Canadian to ever play MLB.

Worth the Price of Herb Tarlic’s Suit: Jay Bruce. Aside from some glimpses of greatness in his natural power he never has become the elite hitter many envisioned him to be. This season is just a lost season. He seems to be regressing rather quickly or is it just an aberration?

 

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