Series Preview: Can the Blue Jays Clip the Orioles?


So would it be too much to say the Blue Jays shot at the post season took a turn for the worst when they couldn’t buy a hit off Nate Karns? Is that what just happened? Chris Archer I can understand but Nathan Freakin’ Karns? He of the 7.50 career ERA of a barely started big league career? It’s the moments like that in which the Blue Jays fate seems sealed. Not even a sniff of a run….ugh.

Then Brandon Morrow gets brought in during a need it inning and not a blowout and folded like a Monday newspaper. If that is what we have to expect from Morrow then perhaps we really need to think hard if he could be a part of this team going forward, as a closer or as a starter. 6 years is a long time to wait on potential.

With the arms coming perhaps his 10 million could best be put elsewhere. However you want to break it down the Blue Jays lost a series they shouldn’t have lost and unless they have another gear to take on the Orioles and the Yankees and the Mariners for the rest of the season you can point to the Rays series as to why a true turning point in the season.

As for the Orioles, they are pretty much coasting into the playoffs behind some very strong pitching and a powerful, homer happy lineup…like Ultra Blue Jays in terms of power. Nelson Cruz will most likely win the home run crown in the American League and even with the losses of Manny Machado, Matt Weiters and Chris Davis (side note….idiot) they are outpacing the rest of the AL East quite easily.

Makes you wonder…is it how the team is managed or is it the players? 1 through 9 the Blue Jays seem to match up pretty well with the Orioles but the O’s just seem to have that winning intangible…that something the Blue Jays seem to lack. Is it the Buck Showalter factor? He certainly has the resume to prove how good he can be and how good he can make the team around him.

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Game 1: Marcus Stroman (10-5, 3.61 ERA) vs Wei-Yin Chen (15-4, 3.59 ERA)

Stroman has pretty much held up his end of the bargain. They put him into the rotation and boom…he is the best starter every fifth day that the Blue Jays are throwing out there. His complete game 3 hitter last time out has silenced the doubters who really gave a crap about his somewhat diminutive stature. So he is a little short.

I am 6’5″ and can’t throw a 95 mph fastball wherever I want…and there are a lot of pros older than he is and bigger than he is who will never reach the success Stroman has shown he has the ability to reach. This is just the first step in a hopefully long career. Kid is smart, humble but driven to be the best…sound like another former Jay (cough….Halladay…cough).

On the other side of the field the Orioles will be throwing out the dangerous Wei-Yin Chen. He has 4 losses all season long and will most likely finish with 17. He had a mediocre August with a 4.34 ERA but if you look longer term his last ten starts have him with a 2.67 ERA…imagine how good it would be without that August hiccup. He has a great array of pitches and great control (168 IP, 31 BB, 123 K).

He does give up his hits but seems to bear down in high pressure situations. Every team needs a guy like this…I have used the term before but like a vintage Mark Buehrle. A guy to trust every fifth day to give you a shot to win the game. If he keeps this up he may end up doing numbers better than Buehrle has season after season.

Game 2: Drew Hutchison (10-11, 4.36 ERA) vs Ubaldo Jimenez (4-9, 4.96 ERA)

4 earned runs in the last 25 innings. That is Drew Hutchison finishing off his season. He hit a bit of a wall mid-August but he has gone forward and pitched to his capabilities. He isn’t losing speed on his fastball and the velocity is still there.

He is relying more on his changeup and is willing to throw it in all situations. Watching him mature as a pitcher has been fun to watch and if you question his competitiveness watch a replay of his face when Gibbons yanked him last time out after a pretty stellar outing…he was piiiiiiiissed. I love it. If he gains consistency I love the future of the rotation with him in it.

Jimenez was in the rotation for most of the season but yanked after 20 starts due to an alarming loss of command. Jimenez used to bring it and had decent control but 70 walks in just over 114 innings pitched? Really? Seems he was lucky to be in the rotation as long as he was.

When he is on he can be masterful. His WHIP is the second highest it has ever been for a season. He is his own worst enemy it seems. He is a definitive ground ball pitcher but if when your infield is short two guys it’s going to make Ubaldo’s job that much more difficult. He is bring brought back into the rotation but is that wise? Keeping other arms fresh I guess.

Game 3: J.A. Happ (9-10, 4.28 ERA) vs Bud Norris (13-8, 3.74 ERA)

Happ got boned his last start. 7 innings of 7 strikeout 1 run ball should be enough for any professional win. Unfortunately he was up against the afor mentioned ace-in-waiting Nathan Karns. Happ can’t seem to buy a victory. Usually if he is on like that the team wins but after the explosive offense against the Cubs it seems the Blue Jays bats regressed and didn’t get Happ his 10th win.

Happ is pitching for his life these days. If all goes according to plan he may not have a job in Toronto but a strong finish would make him a very prized commodity to shore up other areas. Until that day though I am glad we have him. He cares and he tries very hard. Can’t ask more of a man than that sometimes.

Bud Norris gives up his share of runs (4 out of last 10 games 4 runs given up) but when he is on you can see why the Orioles traded for him last year. He isn’t perfect but he gives you the innings you need to save the bullpen and his K:BB ratio is 3:1.

Last time against Toronto he got his pitch count up and only went into the 6th inning giving up 2 earned. He will be tough but not unbeatable and if the Blue Jays hitters are focused they should be able to take him down….otherwise it could be a very high scoring game.

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays

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

Baltimore Orioles

1, Nick Markakis – RF
2. Alejandro De Aza – LF
3. Adam Jones – CF
4. Nelson Cruz – DH
5. Steve Pearce – 1B
6. J.J. Hardy -SS
7. Kelly Johnson – 3B
8. Nick Hundley – C
9. Jonathan Schoop – 2B

Worth the Price of Admission: Adam Jones. With Manny Machado out this is the man who makes this team go.

Worth the Last Season of Homicide: Life on the Streets: Kelly Johnson. Weekend walk off aside….c’mon it’s Kelly Johnson!