Jul 20, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) hits a home run in the seventh inning during a game against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Blue Jays Need to Stomp on the Red Sox

It’s getting a little hot in here. Aside from the red faces of fans when J.P. Arencibia went deep on Saturday things went pretty well against Texas. Melky Cabrera kept himself in the team MVP race by having a great series overall which was capped by a brilliant performance during Sunday’s rubber match.

To take 2 of 3 and the loss being to Yu Darvish is a pretty good accomplishment. Now this is where things get hairy. These next ten games could be another rise to the top of the AL East or a rude banishment towards the AL East cellar. Make no mistake about it. These games are so very uber-crucial.

The Red Sox have now won 7 of 8 after sweeping the free-falling Kansas City Royals and are looking a bit more dangerous than they did mere weeks ago. Teams will ebb and flow up and down and the Red Sox have mostly been down. Hard to imagine the World Series champs playing like chumps all season. Lately they have been anything but chumps.

Teams will ebb and flow up and down and the Red Sox have mostly been down. Hard to imagine the World Series champs playing like chumps all season. Lately they have been anything but chumps.

Shane Victorino is back and Brock Holt is more than holding his own as the Red Sox mega-utility guy. A .323 AVG speaks volumes as to how he has helped boost the sagging offense recently. This series is going to be riddled with excitement. Just be thankful we miss Jon Lackey this time around (who happens to be 4-0 with a 0.85 ERA over last seven starts with a K:BB of 47:8 and giving up just one earned run in 31 innings).

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: John Lackey (10-6, 3.79 ERA) vs Drew Hutchison (6-8, 4.16 ERA)

John Lackey is nothing if not durable. A bulldog who keeps his team in games has never been a top of the rotation guy. He is Boston’s answer to Mark Buehrle. He gives up more than his share of ill-timed hits but on most nights he will keep the Sox in it…just as a 3rd man in the rotation should. His numbers are also a little worse away form Fenway so that gives more hope to the Blue Jayus decimated and taped together batting order.

Hutchison appears to be falling prey to the sophomore slump. He has worked well past his career inning seasonal limit so it’s new territory. Perhaps he’s tired. Perhaps he needs more rest. If that means more Todd Redmond/Dustin McGowan tandem then so be it. Hopefully it is just a dead arm period and he regains the form he showed earlier in the season.

Game 2: Jake Peavy (1-8, 4.59 ERA) vs J.A. Happ (7-5, 4.91 ERA)

Oh so many Jake Peavy rumours. He is definitely past his prime a wee bit and his mid 4 ERA and 1 win seems to be enticing a few general managers to knock on the Red Sox door. I don’t get it. 5 of the past 6 years his ERA is over 4. Prone to the big hit his WHIP is relatively low so there could be some bad luck thrown in there. Generally he is a fifth starter who might throw another gem or two. That’s about it.

I don’t get all the J.A. Happ love. Yes he has been great in a few starts but if your ERA hovers around 5 you are not getting the job done. If he doesn’t turn it around soon you may see him as part of a multi player trade to bring another starter and perhaps a bat from another team. His arm is always enticing but man he gives up the hits. With an 8 day rest let’s see if he comes out guns blazing. This score could get to double digits for both teams.

Game 3: Clay Buchholz (5-5, 5.46 ERA) vs R.A. Dickey (7-10, 3.95 ERA)

Aside form 2010 and 2013 Buchholz has been a waste of talent. This year with a fully healthy body he can’t seem to put it all together. Lefties and righties are both hitting .298 against him and his WHIP is 1.52. He haaaas post a 3.28 ERA in the last month so perhaps he is turning it around. If so, the Blue Jays better watch out…he can be near unhittable at his best.

R.A. had an up and down game last time out. 7 strikeouts in 7 innings with no walks. Oh did I mention the 5 earned runs? Dickey has slowly turned into the pitcher that he is expected to be at this stage of his career. A leader who works hard, cares and will give his team a chance to win 7-8 times out of 10. He is no longer the Cy Young winner but he is settling in nicely as an old beard. Against the Red Sox it should be interesting to see if he can quell their recently hot bats.

Game 4: Rubby De La Rosa (3-2, 2.64 ERA) vs Marcus Stroman (5-2, 3.58 ERA)

Definitely still finding his way in the majors, Rubby De La Rosa has shown flashes of why he is considered one of the Red Sox top pitching prospects. So far in 7 starts his WHIP is 1.08 and opposing batters are smacking him around to a paltry .225. If he can keep his walks down he has the makings of a great shot in the arm to the Red Sox rotation.

Stroman has the same type of pedigree to Blue Jays fans as De La Rosa had to Red Sox fans…and Stroman has failed to disappoint. His ERA since being in the rotation for 9 starts is 2.50. He brought it against the Rangers with 7 innings of shutout ball. He is sure to have a bad start here and there but he is proving to be one of the bright spots in the Blue Jays rotation and looks like he just gets better and understands a little more each game that passes. This game is pretty close pitching-wise…it may go down to bullpens.

Probable Starting Lineups

Boston Red Sox

1. 3B: Brock Holt
2. LF: Daniel Nava
3. 2B: Dustin Pedroia
4. DH: David Ortiz
5. 1B: Mike Napoli
6. RF: Shane Victorino
7. SS: Stephen Drew
8. C: David Ross
9. CF: Jackie Bradley

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2, 2B: Munenori Kawasaki
3. LF: Melky Cabrera
4. DH: Jose Bautista
5. C: Dioner Navarro
6. CF: Colby Rasmus
7. 1B: Dan Johnson
8. 3B: Steve Tolleson
9. RF: Anthony Gose

Worth the Price of Admission: Marcus Stroman. 4-2, 2.50 ERA in 9 MLB starts. It’s nice to see the future starting to show up and do well.

Worth the Same as a 6 Hour Trek to Cottage Country: Blue Jays bullpen. There have been signs of life this past weekend but until the consistency is there like last year there will be no playoffs in Hogtown.

Tags: Drew Hutchison Marcus Stroman Toronto Blue Jays

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