May 3, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Hey look everybody, this Toronto Blue Jays team may not actually be that bad!
After a week from hell when the bullpen couldn’t close out April, the Blue Jays have railed off four straight wins and climbed back to the restart point. Moreover, this mini win streak has seen the offense come to life. Since beating Pittsburgh on Sunday, the Blue Jays have outscored opponents 26-7.
But it hasn’t been just the offense carrying the load either. The starting staff finally said “enough” and opted to take the brunt of the pitching weight on their shoulders. Outside of J.A. Happ, the starters over the last four games (Dustin McGowan, Drew Hutchison, and Mark Buehrle) have all gone a minimum of 7 innings and ground through to give the Blue Jays a chance to win.
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Those efforts, well minus the one from Happ, have allowed the bullpen to get plenty of rest and put the week prior behind them. That will certainly aid them in the middle of this long stretch of games, and with a sweep in the air and a thought of going over .500, a rested and confident pen is a welcome sign.
Toronto Blue Jays Line-up:
R.A. Dickey – SP
Philadelphia Phillies Line-up:
A.J. Burnett – SP
Adam Lind returns to the line-up, and just in time to face right-hander A.J. Burnett. That’s good news for Blue Jays fans as Burnett’s splits versus right-handers and left-handers are pretty pronounced, a weakness that Toronto’s proud offense tends to take full advantage of with 7 hitters that can step in from the left side.
On the other side of the fence, the Blue Jays will counter with R.A. Dickey, who is 3-4 with a 2.90 ERA and 7.5 K/9 in 9 career starts against the Phillies. Dickey has been up and down to start the season in 2014, sporting a 2-3 record with a 5.01 ERA, a 4.8 BB/9 ratio, and a 7.2 K/9 ratio.
What to watch for tonight:
While the lefty/righty splits against Burnett are pronounced, that doesn’t mean Toronto’t two big bats from the right side haven’t had success against him. Jose Bautista has 3 home runs and 7 RBI in just 14 at-bats against Burnett. Meanwhile, Edwin Encarnacion has 6 hits in 14 at bats of his own, including a pair of bombs and 4 RBI.