Series Preview: Edwin Encarnacion leads Blue Jays against Oakland Athletics


Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera and Jose Reyes are doing it well but the month of May has been all about Edwin…not the Canadian Alt Rocker from the mid 90’s but Edwin En…carnacion. The dude is hitting the splat out of that stitched horsehide. If Edwin doesn’t get player of the month or at least another player of the week then there is a lot of no-doze being ingested around the baseball world. He has become an average to above average first baseman and is the consummate professional between the lines and away from the park as well. I was sad to trade Scott Rolen away at the time but now I get it. He almost got away but after AA gave him another shot it has been lights out. He has been as valuable as Bautista…maybe even moreso due the to amount of games he has played compared to Jose who was hurt the last two seasons. I am thoroughly enjoying this ride.

Speaking of rides, what the heck kind of run is going on in Oakland. Billy Beane has put together another scrappy and talented team made up of players overlooked by pundits and executives alike. Their pitching is far and away the best in the AL in ERA (2.87 which is the only team ERA under 3 in the AL) and first in WHIP at 1.11 in all of baseball. Good pitching defeats good hitting on most days and this is living proof. The team has even pitched the most innings in the AL which makes their staff even that much more impressive. Are they up to the task of keeping the hot Toronto Blue Jays bats at bay? We’ll see.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Scott Kazmir (5-1, 2.39 ERA) vs Liam Hendriks (5-0, 1.48 ERA @ AAA Buffalo)

Scott kazmir came up as a vaunted prospect with the Tampa Bay Rays and lived up to the hype for the first few years. Then suddenly he seemed to lose it. He was traded to the Angels where he had a terrible 2010 and in 2011 got in one start before being knocked down with surgery. In 2013 he resurfaced with the Cleveland Indians and had a decent season. He seems to have put it together and is pitching again like the young gun from 2005. Can he carry this pace through the season? For this game it seems like it considering his mound opponent.

That opponent is Liam Hendriks who had a few forgettable appearances with the Minnesota Twins the last three years. This year he is killing it at AA Buffalo and hopefully that can translate into a great Blue Jays debut and continuing the great play of the team as of late.

Game 2: Jesse Chavez (4-1, 2.54 ERA) vs R.A. Dickey (4-4, 4.20 ERA)

Another reclamation project of Senor Beane. Nobody thought Chavez would be putting up the numbers he has as a part of the A’s starting staff but injuries forced him into the rotation and he already is having a career season. Same question goes that goes for Kazmir though with different stories coming into this season: can he do this for an entire season? That is highly doubtful and he may be in line to drop this one. 7 home runs in 9 starts. Very average and against the power hitting Blue Jays lineup it could prove a tough task.

Hopefully R.A. Dickey can stay the course. In 7 of his 10 start this season he has given up 3 runs or less…unfortunately he can’t complete 7 innings anymore. You figure with the pitches he throws his arm could toss more pitches but perhaps the torque on a hard knuckler is more taxing than we realize. He has the capabilities and his ERA at home is 3 runs better than it is on the road. Is that due to his knuckler working better under a Dome? He is assuredly hoping for a storm outside so the roof remains closed. This could be a great victory for the home team…and that is how it will be.

Game 3: Drew Pomeranz (4-1, 0.94 ERA) vs J.A. Happ (3-1, 4.37 ERA)

Another in a long lime of pitchers with promise. Dealt to the A’s in the Brett Anderson deal with the Colorado Rockies he has still to really live up to the promise…and then he as put in the rotation. 3 starts of 5 innings and no earned runs. Another genius move by Beane or just pure luck? I would never bet against anything Beane does when it comes to pitching. This game makes me a little nervous.

J.A. Happ is the reason for my nervousness. He battles, throws a ton of pitches and doesn’t go deep into games and he is always one horrid start away from being yanked out of the rotation. If Todd Redmond keeps it up or if Daniel Norris continues to kill it in AAA then Happ could be another long arm in the pen or trade bait. It’s getting to that point where we have to start lining up our trade chips. I see the A’s taking this because even after a year Happ has proven to be too much of a wild card.

Probable Starting Lineups

Oakland Athletics

1. CF: Coco Crisp
2. DH: John Jaso
3. 3B: Josh Donaldson
4. 1B: Brandon Moss
5. LF: Yoenis Cespedes
6. RF: Josh Reddick
7. C: Derek Norris
8. SS: Nick Punto
9. 2B: Eric Sogard

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Melky Cabrera
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
5. 3B: Brett Lawrie
6. DH: Dioner Navarro
7. 2B: Steven Tolleson
8. C: Erik Kratz
9. CF: Anthony Gose

Worth the Price of Admission: Edwin. As Stan Lee once wrote: “’nuff said.”

Worth the Price of Rob Ford’s Credibility: John Gibbons’ Challenges. He has won 1…1! It seems every game he challenges something. Drives me NUTS!