Series Preview: Blue Jays Need to Club the Cubs

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Just when it seems the Blue Jays are making their move they lay an egg against a very vulnerable Red Sox squad. The questions are getting deeper and more plentiful. Who will replace Melky? Is Casey Janssen a closer or not a closer? Can Edwin Encarnacion step it up consistently? Has Colby Rasmus bought himself more playing time? Is Mark Buehrle back? Can R.A. Dickey keep it rolling? Will the kids make a difference in the pennant race? Will I ask one too many questions? How annoyed will the readers get if I continue? Let’s find out…

The Cubbies have a Red Sox Alumin General Manager Theo Epstein at the helm and the rebuild has been a slow one. There of course are a few bright spots for the Cubs with Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo and Mike Olt among them.

There of course are a few bright spots for the Cubs with Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo and Mike Olt among them.

The Cubs have wallowed near the bottom of the NL Central pretty much all season long but the fruits of rebuilding the system are showing life. Perhaps with the addition of some decent starting pitching they can rise to .500 next year. For now, they are just in the way of a late resurgence of the Blue Jays squad. This could get ugly…hopefully…

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Jacob Turner (1-1, 3.14 ERA) vs Marcus Stroman (9-5, 3.83 ERA)

Turner has been on the outside of up and comers. He has been a decent prospect and obviously regarded for something having been traded twice already in his young career. He has had difficulty executing his pitches when needed and thus has been spinning his tires during his time in the majors. If he follows through on the game plan mapped out by his catcher and management he may go further in the game than many thought he would. His last outing was decent (1 run over 6 plus) but is he able to keep it up against a hometown team desperate for the playoffs? We will see.

If Turner was a bit intimidated by the Blue Jays line up he may be even moreso going against a rejuvenated Marcus Stroman. After a brief 4 game meltdown, Stroman has gone back to back with solid outings. Perhaps he has pitched past a small dead arm period and is pushing to finish off his season strong. He is definitely a bulldog out there and has the capabilities of taking down any line up the major leagues can throw at him.

Game 2: Jake Arrieta (8-5, 2.81 ERA) vs Mark Buehrle (11-9, 3.34 ERA)

You all remember Jake Arrieta as that guy in the Orioles system with tons of potential, flashes of brilliance but never able to put it together over a whole season. Well in 2014 it seems he may be making strides in the right direction. He will never be a number 1 but with a career high in innings this season and a WHIP well below is career average (1.06 to 1.34) he is having a great season with the Cubbies. Perhaps his knowledge of the Blue Jays lineup and Rogers Centre will give him that added boost of confidence he will need to pitch against the Blue Jays

Buehrle finally had a brilliant start in the second half. He pitched 8 scoreless and kept the Boston hitters guessing most of the game. With him and Dickey it is slow and slower but that combined with the fire coming out of Stroman, Hutchison and Happ’s arms it could give the rotation a definitive advantage. Buehrle is the epitome of success by location. If he can locate his pitches the way he did first half it could mean the difference between playoffs and going home.

Game 3: Kyle Hendricks (6-1, 2.02 ERA) vs Drew Hutchison (9-11, 4.47 ERA)

Now Hendricks is one of those kids being counted on to lead a younger and better version of the current south siders. In his MLB debut against Cincinnati on July 10 he gave up four earned runs and looked a little overwhelmed. Well his 9 starts since then have seen him give up 2 or fewer runs all 9 times. He has rattled off 6 straight victories heading into Toronto and his WHIP is almost at 1. Given the Blue Jays lack of success against pitching they haven’t faced before this could come down to some late inning bullpen play.

Hutchison kind of fell off the wagon same time as Stroman and it helped to kill the Blue Jays chances at winning in early August. But after three straight quality starts it seems Hutchison is back in a groove. His strikeouts to walks is almost 3 to 1 and his movement seems to be back on his fastball. Two young guns with great stuff going head to head…I may have to head down to that game.

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

Probable Starting Lineups

Chicago Cubs

1. Arismendy Alcantara – CF
2. Javier Baez – SS
3. Chris Coghlan – LF
4. Jorge Soler – DH
5. Luis Valbuena – 3B
6. Welington Castillo – C
7. Ryan Kalish – RF
8. Mike Olt – 1B
9. Logan Watkins – 2B

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Jose Reyes – SS
2. Jose Bautista – RF
3. Edwin Encarnacion – DH
4. Adam Lind – 1B
5. Dioner Navarro – C
6. Danny Valencia – 3B
7. Kevin Pillar – LF
8. Ryan Goins – 2B
9. Anthony Gose – CF

Worth the Price of Admission: Jose Bautista. He is slamming homers at a pretty good rate again and is climbing the Blue Jays all-time home run leaders ladder. Always plays hard and fun to watch.

Worth a Vote for Rob Ford: Juan Francisco. The last time he hit a home run was July 27 and he “hit” .130 in August…yeah he’s benched.

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