Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (0-0) @ Tampa Bay Rays (0-0)


Mar 30, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; General view of a base prior to the opening day baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Here it is again boys and girls! Series Preview time! Time to give some prognostication to the upcoming baseball frivolities. Every team starting with a clean slate. Every team with a chance…or so they hope. There will be surprises and there will be disappointments. Records are there to be made and the spectacular is bound to happen. This game is every changing and no two games are alike. Enjoy it and cheer and take it in for what it is. A great game with many stories to be told. On with the 2014 season of YOUR…..Toronto Blue Jays!

Game 1: R.A. Dickey vs David Price

So here we go. Battle of the number ones. Am I the only one a wee bit worried about the difference between their number one and ours? Sure Dickey has the masterful dancing knuckler which is supposed to hold up even better in a dome. Dickey’s career numbers at Tropicana Field are encouraging. He’s 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in seven games with opposing hitters batting .188/.253/.289 against him. The Blue Jays are hoping this will allow them the opportunity to beat a man who gives them fits every time he faces them.

David Price would be that man and he has an .867 winning percentage against the Jays which happens to be the best all-time against the Jays for a pitcher with more than 15 starts. That is scary good. He is a perennial Cy Young award winner and the leader of the pitching staff. Due to his contract situation he was almost traded over the off-season. He is pitching for a new one so expect a dynamite effort all season. Let’s hope he hiccups against the Jays. Unfortunately I don’t see that hiccup but rather a white wash . The Rays will raise their 2013 AL Wild Card Banner before the game and their arms in victory after the game in a decent pitching duel. Until The Jays can learn to beat Price the game is the Rays.

Game 2: Drew Hutchison vs Alex Cobb

Going for the Jays in the battle of the young ‘uns is Hutchison. There is still some concern about his Tommy John repaired arm but after a very strong spring he earned the 2nd spot in the Blue Jays rotation, some heat spread between the soft throwing Dickey and Buehrle. We really do not know what to expect but from what we have seen Hutchison the sky is the limit.

Alex Cobb was the other guy hit in the head last year (along with J.A. Happ) and won 11 games even though he missed a significant chunk of time. With a 2.72 ERA in 11 major league starts he looks like another in a long line of front end pitchers developed by the General Manager Andrew Friedman and the Rays organization. It should be quite the battle but let’s go with the feel good story and say Hutchison takes this one.

Game 3: Mark Buehrle vs Matt Moore

Another battle hardened lefty veteran versus the lefty kid with the pedigree, hype and resume to be a front line starter. Buehrle started off horribly last season and is not known to have stellar starts to the season. His spring ERA of 2.93 was so much better than his career 4.23 ERA. He is crafty and most likely will log another season of at least 12 wins, 200 innings and an average ERA. He is the epitome of an innings eater and veteran stabilizer but not a streak stopper either. It will take about a month to see where he is at.

Moore had a brutal spring, giving up more than a hit per inning and a WHIP over 2. Last season he started out 8-0 in 11 starts but it would seem he has some work to do to repeat that sort of success. He either has it or completely loses and is such a streaky pitcher that until he proves that he has turned it around I am going to have to go with the veteran in this one. Chalk one up for the Blue birds.

Game 4: Brandon Morrow vs Chris Archer

Here comes the enigma, Brandon Morrow. I honestly have no idea what to expect. His spring was brutal, save for his last start. His fastball command was, as usual, a work in progress. He has the capabilities to be a number one in the majors if…repeat after me kids…if he manages to stay healthy. I would love to say that he has turned a corner. I would love to say that he finally figures it all out. I can’t say that. Until he proves his freak injury history is behind him he is a bunch of unfulfilled potential.

On the other end is yet another of the young bucks to pitch their way to the majors through the Rays system. This spring he had a WHIP of 0.80 and an ERA of 0.90. This seems to be a continuation og the fantastic end to the 2013 season in which Archer went 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in his final five 2013 starts. He has added a change up to his power repertoire and should be counted on as another stalwart to the Rays pitching staff for a few years at least.

Projected Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays
1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Melky Cabrera
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. DH: Edwin Encarnacion
5. 1B: Adam Lind
6. 3B: Brett Lawrie
7. CF: Colby Rasmus
8. C: Josh Thole
9. 2B: Ryan Goins

Tampa Bay Rays
1. LF: David DeJesus
2. 2B: Ben Zobrist
3. 3B: Evan Longoria
4. RF: Wil Myers
5. DH: Matt Joyce
6. 1B: James Loney
7. CF: Desmond Jennings
8. SS: Yunel Escobar
9. C: Ryan Hanigan

Worth the Price of Admission: David Price. We may be standing witness to one of the best pitchers of this generation. He is smart, quick, adaptable and ready to take on everyone. Starting the season is no stranger thing to Price. With the backup of a fairly decent line-up that includes rookie of the year Wil Myers and superstar Evan Longoria, this team is capable of topping the division this year.

Worth the Price of an Old Foreigner Tape: Yunel Escobar. He has a decent bat and fields very average but with no self-control he is pre-determined to not live up to his potential. He talked his way out of 2 organizations and now it is time to give him what he needs. Perhaps if he stops his immature shenanigans he will have that…but I don’t think so.

Final Word

There are so many factors going into this season. What is kind of weird is that last season with practically the same team the Jays were Vegas odds on favour to make it to the World Series. Injuries, poor performances and a dreadful starting five buried the Jays early. In order to stay in the race the Jays need to get off to a start like nothing the team has seen before. After such bitter disappointment last year the Blue Jays go in with nothing to lose.