Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (7-6) @ Minnesota Twins (6-6)


I love it when a team comes together. Sunday was the most complete game of the season for the Blue Jays. Hitters were smacking balls all over Camden Yards and the starting pitching was outstanding (way to go Mark Buehrle!). It was such a blow out that the two runs Esmil Rogers surrendered were inconsequential. If the bats continue to flourish under hitting coach Kevin Seitzer tutelage then we may finally be running on all cylinders…that is if Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion can keep it up against the rebuilt Twins pitching staff.

In the off-season the Twins remade their starting rotation with Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco signed to turn around the worst starting unit in the American League last year. They are definite upgrades but there is still no serious number one on the team and their bullpen doesn’t scream amazing…just hard working. Can the Twins keep moving upwards from their .500 record? Well they did sweep a decent Kansas City Royals over the weekend but I don’t see them pulling the same against Blue Jays. Onward to the part with the stats!

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Brandon Morrow (1-1, 5.73 ERA) vs Phil Hughes (0-0, 7.20 ERA)

The enigma continues to…umm…enig. Morrow had a great start last time out to balance the brutal start he had his first game of the season. This start should go a long way to either building his confidence or obliterating it all together. His numbers are pretty good over the two outings. One walk each start to go with 13 strikeouts total. His WHIP is a tad below his career average and his fastball is humping pretty good. Could this be the season Morrow takes the next step? I want to say yes but…well…you know.

Opposing Morrow will be another enigma of sorts in Phil Hughes. Once a highly touted prospect in the Yankees organization he has never really fulfilled the promise of his talent. Considering the money the Twins gave him to tear him from the Yankees arms (or more like rescuing him from the perils of free agency as a below average pitcher). He benefited from being a decent arm in a poor free agency class. His career ERA is 4.56. Last year his ERA was 5.19! So is he worth the price? I don’t see it. This could be as close to a no-doubter as i have called this year…for the Jays

Game 2: R.A. Dickey (1-2, 5.30 ERA) vs Mike Pelfrey (0-2, 7.84 ERA)

This man worries me. He had it the way he wanted to begin the season: first three starts under the climate and air control of a domed stadium and yet he loses two of them rather convincingly and wins the other one like the Cy Young winner he was. Was. The decline is steep when you get towards forty in most sports. Knuckleballer extend that life throwing a pitch that puts little strain on the arm. What about a power knuckler like Dickey? There is no history about that. Let’s hope he can take advantage of a weak hitting Twins team and not give up those spirit crushing homers.

Pelfrey is another ex-New Yorker but this guy started out with the ‘mazing Mets. He was very inconsistent with the Mets but he showed enough potential that the Twins brought him to the team in 2013. The result? 5.19 ERA. That’s bad in general even with the expected spike in ERA going from the National to American league. His WHIP is atrocious. Pelfrey should be considered a stop gap before some of the big arms the Twins have coming through the minors start knocking at the big club’s door. For now let’s chalk another one up to the Blue Jays.

Game 3: Dustin McGowan (1-1, 4.00 ERA) vs Kyle Gibson (2-0, 1.59 ERA)

6 years. It has been 6 years since Dustin McGowan won a major league game before the win he got Thursday in Baltimore. He isn’t blowing batters away or striking out a ton of them but he is pitching rather decently. His WHIP will most certainly drop from it’s current 1.67 but all that matters is he gives the Jays a chance to win. All you can really ask of a number five is to go 6 and keep you in the game and right now that is exactly what McGowan needs.

One of the more pleasant offerings in the Twins starting five is the work of Kyle Gibson. His minor league stats were decent enough to get him in a few games last year and he didn’t fare so well. This year he is more focused knowing he doesn’t have to win a job now but rather lose it if he gets smoked. A 1.59 ERA in two starts against division rivals Cleveland and Kansas City may help get the Twins back in the race which is where they seemingly belong

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays

1. LF: Melky Cabrera
2. CF: Colby Rasmus
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. DH: Adam Lind
5. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
6. C: Dioner Navarro
7. 3B: Brett Lawrie
8. SS: Jonathan Diaz
9. 2B: Ryan Goins

Minnesota Twins

1. 2B: Brian Dozier
2. 1B: Joe Mauer
3. 3B: Trevor Plouffe
4. RF: Chris Colabello
5. LF: Jason Kubel
6. DH: Josmil Pinto
7. C: Kurt Suzuki
8. CF: Aaron Hicks
9. SS: Pedro Florimon

Worth the Price of Admission: Colby Rasmus. Watch out boys and girls. Someone seems to have found his stroke. Apparently he lost it flying over Baltimore but we are sure glad he did. He is hitting the ball hard and couple have left the yard in recent days. If he and Lawrie start to really get in a groove our lineup is scary. Forget the strikeouts. Colby will always be that guy. But perhaps he could turn into a 30 homer guy, 90 RBI, 90 runs…This may well be the breakout year.

Worth the Price of Boxed Mashed Potato Flakes: Ryan Goins. Having already lost his second base job to Maicer Izturis and shortstop to the spritely Jon Diaz, Ryan Goins has contributed very little to this team. With Reyes down still Goins will get the chance to show he can make it in the Show. He has certainly been nothing like the player we saw last year. Kid has to hit something doesn’t he? This is life in the AL East in the year 2014 not 1984.