Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (62-75, 5th AL East) vs Arizona Diamondbacks (69-66, 2nd AL West)


Aug 30, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes (7) celebrates their victory with left fielder Kevin Pillar (22) and center fielder Anthony Gose (8) and right fielder Moises Sierra (14) against the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Royals 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Up until Sunday I thought the Blue Jays were playing decent ball. Little bit of defense, little bit of hitting, timely pitching. Then I watched Rajai Davis air mail an ill advised throw to third on Sunday and J.A. Happ seems to have a case of the yips as he just kept getting hit over and over. Since there are not many options to start, we didn’t have a choice. I wonder if there are lingering psychological issues that Happ may be dealing with after nearly getting killed by a line drive in May? I think any of us would be a tad gun shy. Now we head into the desert to face Aaron Hill and the D’Backs who are fighting for the second wild card playoff spot in the always competitive NL.

The D’Backs have a chance but it would take a huge collapse within the AL Central by one of the Cardinals or Reds or Pirates to even let this happen. The Dodgers are the cream of the crop in the west while the rest of teams are being used as fodder for the Dodgers juggernaut. There have been some decent individual performances, highlighted by Paul Goldschmidt at first (.297/.400/.543 along with 31 homers and 104 RBI). That’s MVP numbers right there. With Aaron Hill back and picking up where he left off before breaking his hand two months ago the team has some pretty decent bats anchoring the offence.

Probable Starters

Game 1: Esmil Rogers (3-7, 5.03 ERA) vs Brandon McCarthy (3-8, 5.03 ERA)
Game 2: Todd Redmond (2-2, 4.30 ERA) vs Wade Miley (9-9, 3.55 ERA)
Game 3: Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.92 ERA) vs Randall Delgado (4-5, 3.67 ERA)

For game 1 both Rogers and McCarthy have the same shallow pool of numbers. Unfortunately for Jays fans our guy is moving in the wrong direction while theirs seems to be righting himself after a tough go of it so far this year. If Rogers doesn’t get the job done consider him back as a long man in the bullpen. Chad Jenkins has done alright bailing him out so just give the kid the start. He may have low upside but I think we know what we’re going to get out of him. McCarthy has given up 4 or more runs only 3 times in his last 10. He has an average WHIP and his opp BAA is .306. This could be a pretty good battle but I see our ‘pen, strengthened by the return of Delabar and McGowan being the difference here.

Todd Redmond is another that may be pitching for his next start. With the expansion of rosters the Jays may decide to put the games in the hands of the future rather than the present. Redmond hasn’t been too bad. He gave up 3 or less runs in 9 of his last 10 starts but he has a problem keeping his pitch count down. Thus he has yet to pitch the seventh inning. He’ll keep the Jays in it. On the other side Wade Miley does have 4 starts against AL East teams and he is 2-0. In his last 10 starts his ERA is 2.48 and has given up 4 or more runs once (and it was 4 runs)in that same span. Chalk this up to D’Backs win for the simple fact that may be a bit hungrier.

Game 3 has old whipping boy and now starting saviour Buehrle taking on good as advertised Randall Delgado. Buehrle has been one of the best pitchers in baseball lately…and yes I am saying that about a BLUE JAY starter. His ERA per month has gotten lower and lower His ERA in April was 6.35. In August? 2.70. I consider this the prime Jays game to win in the series. He may be due for a bit of a hiccup but with a 3:1 K:BB ratio this month Buehrle is getting it done. Delgado showed flashes of his uber talent that has had him amongst the top prospects in baseball for a couple years. Only 23, he has shown an ability to hold his own and gets his outs like a true pitcher: groundballs and strikeouts. He has had a tough go of it in August but his numbers are still respectable for a young number 3. This would mean win number two out of the three game series…

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. 2B: Ryan Goins
3. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
4. 3B: Brett Lawrie
5. C: J.P. Arencibia
6. RF: Rajai Davis
7. CF: Anthony Gose
8. LF: Kevin Pillar

Arizona Diamondbacks

1, SS: Willie Bloomquist
2. LF: Adam Eaton
3. 1B: Paul Goldschmidt
4. 3B: Martin Prado
5. 2B: Aaron Hill
6. C: Miguel Montero
7. CF: A.J. Pollock
8. RF: Gerardo Parra

Worth the Price of Admission: Ryan Goins. It’s not about the decent bat that’s tied a Jays record for hitting streak to start a career (8 games…tied with Jesse Barfield). It’s about the defense. The smarts. He has a strong arm and soft hands and because he was a shortstop down in Buffalo, his range is better than expected. If this is what he can bring to the table then he may be a good stop gap measure for the next couple years. His bat will determine how far he will go.

Worth the Price of Salt: Blue Jays Fundamentals. Bad positioning. Overthrowing cut off men. Base running gaffes. Failures to bunt. We have most likely lost at least ten games strictly on fundamentals. It would seem we are missing Brian Butterfield more than we thought we would. If we don’t change the manager perhaps we need a new defense coach because I can’t watch this. The Blue Jays as a franchise have usually been above average defensively. If this is the direction we are going I will spit nails. I hate sloppy baseball. I hate it more when it is repeated.

Final Word

Let’s use this time to enjoy the finer things. To enjoy the pennant race. Hell let’s adopt the Pirates as our team. They have been through more hell and missed as much post season as we have. That is a fun team to watch. Our Jays? Aside from Reyes and Lawrie and Goins and Encarnacion and Buehrle this is a flat team. For next year follow the Santos/Janssen performances. Based on the last month I would be fine with Santos taking the mantle from the beat up Janssen. There are stories. There are things to watch…it’s just different than we were expecting way back in April.