Jul 7, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ (48) in the dugout after being pulled from the game in the fifth inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Blue Jays Look for a Ray of Sunshine in Tampa Bay


OK dude. John Gibbons is piiiiiiiissed! The rambling man has seen his team drop from one of the best to one of the almost-Astros. It’s been one heck of a fall from the top of the division a month ago. Gibby lashed out about the terrible play in the field stating, “We’ve lost a lot of one-run games, stupid stuff, from not making a routine play or something stupid, you know? That’s cost us way too many times.” Amen to that.

“We’ve lost a lot of one-run games, stupid stuff, from not making a routine play or something stupid, you know? That’s cost us way too many times.”
To use some basketball vernacular we are using our second unit alot these days. The injury to Brett Lawrie has had a cascade effect on the defense and in having some right handed protection in the lineup. Couple that with Edwin Encarnacion DL’d, Jose Reyes playing with a bum shoulder and Colby Rasmus riding a a major slump and you see a team that is 9-17 since June 11..exactly one month ago. I hope Gibby’s rant got to them because we need to see a sweep at The Trop just to remain feared and relevant.

The Rays are playing great baseball. Instinctual players playing for an intellectual and relevant manager. Once thought to be buried in the cellar of the AL East and offering David Price to the highest bidder it seems the outlook is changing in Tampa. They’re 8th in both ERA and BA but they have put on a great streak recently to get themselves on the outskirts of the picture and working their way in to where they belong. The Rays were killing it because they had the farm system and ability to get the right veterans to fit and hopefully the Blue Jays can continue to build their system and keep on track for sustained relevance in the same manner. Until then it’s sweep or die and then All-Star mania.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Mark Buehrle (10-6, 2.60 ERA) vs Chris Archer (5-5, 3.16 ERA)

Sure Buehrle hasn’t won in 5 starts now but with an ERA over that time of 3.60 you can lay the blame at the feet of the hitters. No one has stepped it up after injury but it is what it is. As long as Buehrle keeps it up he will start to get those wins in the second half and maaaaaybe get Cy Young votes. There is still a lot of baseball left to be played so if the offense picks it back up Buehrle will again be on his way to 20 wins. Will one of those wins be right here?

If Chris Archer has anything to say about it Buehrle will have to keep looking. Over his last 10 starts, Archer has an ERA of 1.71 and an overall GO/AO of 1.10 which offsets the rather small 2:1 K:BB ratio over that time. He is another in the long line of Tampa home grown pitchers who seems to have hit it big. Only 26, Archer is poised to take the reigns as staff ace if David Price does happen to get traded. Based on that alone it looks like a Tampa win in this one.

Game 2: Drew Hutchison (6-7, 3.86 ERA) vs David Price (8-7, 3.42 ERA)

Hutchison has been all over the place. His ERA is great because for the majority of his starts he gets done enough to win and sometimes is excellent. When he is off though he is very off and very hittable. This isn’t exactly the ’21 Yankees he is going against so there is a good chance this will be a good start…a respectable 3 runs over 7 innings or something along those lines. If he is off though, look for balls to sail out of the stadium and into the gaps. His Ks will be there but let’s hope he is spotting his fastball the way he needs. Be careful too about fatigue…he has pitched far more than he has in any pro season already.

Then there is David Price. Pernnial All-Star and Cy Young candidate who, by his standards, is having a bit of a down season. I am sure hearing his name in every rumour out there can get to a guy I guess. he did start out slowly but his ERA has dropped in 9 straight starts going into this matchup. His ERA the past month is 2.03. His slow start has pretty much been eliminated and he is pitching as well as he every has. I love me some Blue Jays but since Price is pitching for contract or to impress his many suitors look for the Rays to take this one too.

Game 3: J.A. Happ (7-5, 4.72 ERA) vs Jake Odorizzi (4-8, 4.10 ERA)

It’s time for the enigma to have a great game. Usually following a poor outing Happ bounces back and is able to pitch an excellent game. When he is on he is a strikeout machine and spots his fastball so well the batter is left guessing and shaking his head. When he is off he gives up an inordinate amount of pitches and walks more than he strikes out. SO it’s simple. Control the fastball and he controls his game…anything less he doesn’t have the secondary pitches well enough developed to get out of a jam. Going into the All-Star break winning is so important so hopefully Happ bears down.

Odorizzi has done alright in Tampa since being part of the James Shields trade with Kansas City. He was another in the line of slow starting starters for the Rays but he has picked up his game. Lefties and righties both hit him at a .248 clip and he is a beast at home…well compared to his road ERA (2.73 to 6.10). Whether he is a good fit for turf or just likes pitching in the Dome he can definitely give guys fits. I don’t see a sweep in this series so I am going to throw down a win for the good guys going into the break.

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. 2B: Munenori Kawasaki
3. LF: Melky Cabrera
4. 1B: Jose Bautista
5. RF: Nolan Reimold
6. DH: Dioner Navarro
7. CF: Colby Rasmus
8. C: Erik Kratz
9. 3B: Steve Tolleson

Tampa Bay Rays

1. CF: Desmond Jennings
2. SS: Ben Zobrist
3. LF: Brandon Guyer
4. 3B: Evan Longoria
5. 1B: James Loney
6. 2B: Logan Forsythe
7. DH: Sean Rodriguez
8. C: Ryan Hanigan
9. RF: Kevin Kiermaier

Worth the Price of Admission: David Price continues to be one of the top pitchers in all of MLB. He is funny, well dressed and works hard at his craft. When it gets worse out I know the weather is not your friend…

Worth the Price of Yunel Escobar’s Eye Black: Yunel Escobar. After the homophobic slur and general weirdness surrounding him, Escobar has been decent but still lacks the ability to truly live up to his potential…ok I just think he’s a jerk so sue me….

Tags: Toronto Blue Jays