Aug 20, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) hits a 3-run home run in the sixth inning as Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) watches at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Blue Jays Looking to E-Rays-e Wild Card Deficit

Forget about what has happened in the past. That is where the Blue Jays stand. Forget the pin and needles the team itself seems to be walking on. They have called out the front office for not bringing in re-enforcements to the pitching staff. They have had their share of injuries, some of them definitely game changers. But the games are being lost mostly with the lack of hitting.

7 home runs as a team in August? 5-12 record? Their OPS is 11th for the month? There is a big issue. The pitching has been spotty (2nd last in team ERA for the month at 4.99) but we are supposed to be able to outgun the other side to get at least .500 for the month. Theoretically…

They have fallen off the pace a bit due to their inevitable yearly suckage in terms of their team hitting.

The Rays of course are on course to move up in the division. The Yankees are spinning their wheels just as much as the Blue Jays are. They have fallen off the pace a bit due to their inevitable yearly suckage in terms of their team hitting. The win against David Price was a fluke win and may have been good for morale but again, no offense. Price owned them and that is what has been going on all season with not one player hitting over .290 this season.

Even though their hitting has been suspect their pitching has owned the Blue Jays over the years. The Blue Jays have made strides and have played better but will their achilles heel of the past be what buries their season?

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Drew Smyly (1-1, 2.25 ERA) vs Marcus Stroman (7-4, 3.83 ERA)

When you are the pitcher going back for a former Cy Young winnner, the fans are going to expect a lot out of you. SO when all 20 of the Rays fans get to watching Smyly they are pleasantly surprised: 1- with a 2.25 ERA. Smyly was a pretty good pitcher in Detroit but now has a chance to truly shine and be recognized as more than one of the pitchers in a rotation without a Cy Young. He strikes out a fir number of guys and keeps the walks to a minimum. This is going to be a tough one for the home team to get to.

Luckily, Marcus Stroman is on the other side of the duel. He got shell-shocked against an ordinary White Sox offense but seems to have the guts to put it behind him and focus on the task at hand. His WHIP is still decent and if he gets a hold of hid fastball command he could put uo quite a few K’s against an average veteran laden team. Go Stro!

Game 2: Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 2.56 ERA) vs Mark Buehrle (11-8, 3.37 ERA)

Hellickson seems to have picked up where he left off…building on a pretty good career. He took a step back in 2013 but so far in 2014 he is helping the Rays get over the loss of David Price. In two starts n the road he has an ERA of 0.69.

He is another in a long line of great pitching prospects turned to major league calibre pitchers that run through the Rays system like water. It will be tough to get to him and considering his opponent on the mound has been scuffling of late this could be a win for the Rays.

That opponent is first half wunderkind Mark Buehrle. He was decent in his last start and considering how he has pitched in the last ten games or so that is saying something. Perhaps the mid-season funk was a result of carrying the starting pitching on his shoulders for a while. With decent bullpen options appearing more and more (Aaron Loup and Aaron Sanchez to name a couple) John Gibbons shouldn’t let him dangle too long if he doesn’t have the gas.

Game 3: Chris Archer (8-6, 3.17 ERA) vs Drew Hutchison (8-11, 4.81 ERA)

In his last 18.3 innings Archer has given up just 3 earned runs with 24 Ks against 8 walks, 5 coming in one game against the struggling Tigers. In three starts against the Jays this season his ERA is up to about 5 and that is great news. Unfortunately it is tempered with the 2.25 ERA Archer has at Rogers Centre. SO hard to see how he is going to do here but with the way he has thrown the ball lately I am expecting him to keep the Blue Jays bats cooled.

Here we thought Hutchison was doing great and had locked up a spot in the rotation for years to come. A 6.24 ERA in his last ten starts though may lead some in the organization to wonder if he might need a AA wake up call. Not many pitchers have been given the reigns as quickly as the Blue Jays did with Hutch and perhaps fatigue is setting in.

When he is tired he tends to lose control of his strike zone and it lets the teams to run up the pitch count and belt him around. If he wants to keep his job he better show off the rest of the season to prove he is the player everyone sees him being capable of such heinous things. For optimists state let’s say the food was good but the lion tweaked me out too.

Probable Starting Lineups

Tampa Bay Rays

1. CF: Desmond Jennings
2. 2B: Ben Zobrist
3. LF: Matt Joyce
4. 3B: Evan Longoria
5. 1B: James Loney
6. DH: Wil Myers
7. SS: Yunel Escobar
8. C: Curt Casali
9. RF: Kevin Kiermaier

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Melky Cabrera
3. 1B: Jose Bautista
4. DH: Edwin Encarnacion
5. 3B: Danny Valencia
6. C: Dioner Navarro
7. RF: Nolan Reimold
8. CF: Colby Rasmus
9. 2B: Munenori Kawasaki

Worth the Price of Admission: David Price….oh wait…

Worth the Price of a Nasty Florida Sunburn: Erik Bedard. Worst of the starting pitching bunch. Had a few decent games but overall a forgettable year for the Canadian veteran.

Tags: Toronto Blue Jays

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