Jul 4, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman (54) prepares to deliver a pitch against the Oakland Athletics in the fifth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Blue Jays Look for a West Coast Turnaround in Anaheim

I really don’t know what to say here. I want to get all witty and smart ass like but I can’t. That was just dreadful. It reminds me of last year except a month early. The offense is tanking huge as we get ourselves some decent starting pitching. The offense is 13th in BA but the pitching is 2ND(!) with a 2.53 ERA. Who would have thought that at the beginning of the year? Is Nolan Reimold the next Juan Francisco? Can the Blue Jays withstand the loss of Edwin Encarnacion? We should see a spike in Jose Bautista‘s walk rate even with Adam Lind behind him. There really isn’t much more you can do to tweak the lineup so it is what it is for now.

We should see a spike in Jose Bautista’s walk rate even with Adam Lind behind him.

Over in Anaheim, the Angels are sporting the best record in the AL for the last month (20-8). They are killing it at home with a 10 game winning streak at home and 15 of their last 16 in Anaheim. That is some mighty fine winnin’ right there. If there is a hope to taking the series from the Angels it would be to keep the pitching momentum rolling and the Blue Jays finding their long ball stroke. It will be tough sine the only team who has given up fewer hits than the Angels are the surging and surprising Seattle Mariners. Oh! My favourite stat comes from Mike Vernon of MLB.com: With a win Monday, the Angels would have an all-time franchise record of 4272-4272-3. It would be the first time since 1961, when they were 1-1, that the Angels were at .500. Thanks Mike! Neat stat!

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: J.A. Happ (7-4, 4.38 ERA) vs Jered Weaver (9-6, 3.56 ERA)

Happ is going to give me fits for the rest of the season. For the most part he has done fairly well but the one thing that keeps him from being very good as opposed to good is the ability to not just have a bad game but really have a bad game here and there. In his last ten starts he has given up 4 or more runs 4 times. Decent but the kind of numbers that eventually could get you moved to the bullpen after a possible trade for reinforcements.

Jered Weaver has been very good this season…well that is until his last three starts where his ERA has been 11.08. He will turn it around, that is a given. He hasn’t lost it yet. Hopefully he rediscovers his mojo after the Blue Jays leave town because a win over a big time pitcher like this could do wonders for the Blue Jays psyche.

Game 2: R.A. Dickey (6-8, 4.10 ERA) vs Tyler Skaggs (4-4, 4.16 ERA)

Dickey is kind of the expensive version of J.A. Happ. Every few outings he has a stinker but generally has been decent. The difference is Dickey doesn’t give up huge amounts of runs when he loses…he gives up just enough. With an ERA under 4 the last ten games, perhaps Dickey has finally settled in this year. He seems to need a few months to get the knuckler up to snuff. We carried him through part of the season and now is the time to really show the American League that he will be a very slow force to be reckoned with.

Skaggs has been rather ordinary at home this season with an ERA approaching 6. On the road it is about 3. Perhaps there is a way to keep Skaggs’ starts at home to a minimum. He has been a very valued commodity in trade talks over the years and we sometimes see flashes of why. Until he is able to string together a successful season from start to finish he will just be another pick that has fallen because of the criticism. Here should be the Blue Jays taking it.

Game 3: Marcus Stroman (4-2, 3.44 ERA) vs C.J. Wilson (8-6, 4.23 ERA)

This is the matchup I wanted. Marcus Stroman proves with every pitch and every game he is worthy of staying in this rotation…heck he has been the best pitcher in the rotation for a couple times through now. His walks are still a bit high in conjunction with his strikeout rate and his WHIP is pretty good. Adjustments will be made going forward by the opposition but Stroman seems to have the mentality to take it and truly be one of the best starters on the Blue Jays staff. Against this powerful Angels’ lineup it should be a very good test of how far Stroman has come in such a short time.

C.J. Wilson is another premium pitcher who has been up and down this season. He is capable of great things but in his last 10 games he has given up 4 or more runs 5 times. Perhaps he is on the downgrade. A look at his peripherals show a pitcher who’s numbers aren’t far off career norms…except for the bloated ERA. I see great things for Wilson after the all-star game. Before then he is ours for the taking.

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. 2B: Munenori Kawasaki
3. LF: Melky Cabrera
4. 1B: Jose Bautista
5. DH: Adam Lind
6. C: Dioner Navarro
7. CF: Colby Rasmus
8. 3B: Juan Francisco
9. RF: Cole Gillespie

Oakland Athletics

1. RF: Collin Cowgill
2. CF: Mike Trout
3. DH: Albert Pujols
4. LF: Josh Hamilton
5. 2B: Howie Kendrick
6. SS: Erick Aybar
7. 3B: David Freese
8. 1B: C.J. Cron
9. C: Chris Iannetta

Worth the Price of Admission:: Mike Trout. Best player in baseball. Has the chance to be one of the best all-time. A Hall of Famer in the making.

Worth the Price of a old school Rally Monkey: Ian Stewart. Had decent years early in his tenure at Colorado but since 2011 he is either injured or just plain bad.

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