Series Preview: Blue Jays on Verge of Getting Mariners to Playoffs


How will the Blue Jays pull off the feat of getting another team into the playoffs? Keep playing the way they are playing. Defense, Pitching and clutch hitting has doomed this team to another finish somewhere around .500. Is there no hunger to win? Is Jose Bautista the only player who can show game in and game out that he is ready to win?

Edwin Encarnacion has been pretty hot even with his back problems and Jose Reyes seems to always be on base. Other than them the offense has been inconsistent and with few options position-wise in our pitching rich farm system there are no surefire young stop gaps to take advantage of.

No great comebacks…no walk offs to rally the troops. The pitching has been ok but true mound dominance is something that will develop and hopefully soon. If the kids show enough promise during these last few days then next spring should be a very interesting competition.

If enough of the kids down on the farm impressed around the majors then perhaps the Blue Jays could trade some young pitching to get the position players we need…or the very least position players who don’t get hurt often and can give you 150 games a year. All the Blue Jays have done is hand the division and second place to their rivals and the wild card to their next to last opponent…the Mariners.

Sure looks good on Robinson Cano to jump from the east to the west coast. Joining a team that seems to be rich in pitching and slowly plugging the holes in their offense. James Paxton has been everything he was pre-destined to be and then some. Throw him in with Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker and you have the makings of a foursome that could challenge any in baseball as the best around.

The Mariners pitching is the best in the American League in terms of ERA, Opp. BAA and earned runs against.

The Mariners pitching is the best in the American League in terms of ERA, Opp. BAA and earned runs against. They have an outside shot to finish the season having given up less than 500 earned runs all season (they currently sit at 482). On top of all that they also lead the league in fielding percentage at .987.

That is 2/3 of the winning equation down pat. Now if they can find a bit more support for Cano this is a team that could challenge for the playoffs consistently for the next half decade. As it stands they are 1.5 games out of the second wild card and the season is slowly ticking away. Lucky for them they are getting a rejected Blue Jays squad that seems right for demolition.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: James Paxton (6-3, 2.06 ERA) vs J.A. Happ (9-11, 4.35 ERA)

How is this for a special start to a career? Paxton has the fourth-lowest ERA of any pitcher in MLB history for their first 15 career starts at 1.91. That is certainly a way to get the Mariner faithful on your side pretty darn quick. He could walk hitters less and perhaps throw a few less pitches. Other than those nit picky things Paxton is generally well regarded and he is proving that night after night.

If Paxton continues on, he could eventually become one off the best pitchers in the game today. He has that kind of stuff. Couple that with a fierce desire to be the best at his craft and you can definitely see All-Star in his future and a huge boost to Canada in the World Baseball Classic rotation in the years to come. So to put it aaallll succinctly….he good. Vewy, vewy good.

J.A. Happ. J.A….aaaaaaaaaa Happ. Well he certainly has proven he isn’t going to make the Mariners rotation. He wouldn’t be good enough. But in Toronto at times he was the 3rd or 4th best option we had going for us. This will definitely change in the 2015 season but for now he is what he is…gosh golly darned average.

I have tossed an idea in my head and wonder if anyone out there in JaysJournal land has given it the same thought. J.A. Happ…closer? Is that any more far fetched then when the Blue Jays handed the closer roll to Casey Janssen or Sergio Santos? OUt of those three Happ is the only one I could see with the team next year so take advantage of his fastball…and go from there. The Jays need options…perhaps Happ is one of them…

Game 2: Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.07 ERA) vs R.A. Dickey (13-12, 3.82 ERA)

Here we go. It’s King Felix! The best pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw…well at least in my opinion. I know there will be some Corey Kluber fans out there freaking out or perhaps Chris Sale fanatics but if you go for year by year excellence there is few that can match Hernandez. Head down to the Rogers Centre and see for yourself. The Blue Jays usually do ok against him but this year seems different.

His .091 WHIP, .200 BAA against and 236 strikeouts are all season career bests. Yes he has beaten his career best season strikeout record with about 2 more starts to go. Yeah he is that good. When all is said and done the only thing that will tarnish such a great career is the win totals due to playing years with an offense that was almost comically bad.

For a fourth season in a row, R.A. Dickey has reached 200 innings. His ERA, barring a shellacking this start and next, will stay comfortably under 4 and his single season strikeout total has the chance to be the second best of his career for a season (He needs 13 in two more starts). Dickey has been very good the last couple months. It has helped alleviate the tension that is rising with Mark Buehrle‘s ERA.

Dickey should be back next year to lead the pitching staff and hold a spot in the rotation while one of Aaron Sanchez or Daniel Norris or even Sean Nolin gets some more experience in AAA. It isn’t inconceivable that he will end up traded next July…or even this off-season. It all depends on how big management is on more of the kids stepping into the rotation next year.

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Game 3: Taijuan Walker (2-2, 3.00 ERA) vs Mark Buehrle (12-10, 3.53 ERA)

Paxton has been great but Walker is supposed to be even better. He has been the top prospect in the Mariners organization the last couple years. Sure enough, he hasn’t disappointed. His control has been a bit sporadic as evidenced by two starts early on in which he gave up 5 walks to the White Sox and 6 to the Mets. This led to a brief introduction to the bullpen.

What brings the caution a little bit more to mind is the fact he has yet to give up more than 3 earned runs in any of his starts and seems to be getting better each time out which is what you hope to see from a youngster with the stuff Walker has. I am sure there is going to be a friendly rivalry between him and Paxton and that is a very good thing…watch out AL West.

So is Mark Buehrle done? Has he finally reached the point where he is no longer effective? I know Dickey throws as slow but t least his 80 MPH pitch is a knuckle ball. Buehrle’s is his fastball. I love his competitiveness and his ability to block out the world around him when he is on the mound but he is so very hittable right now. I can see a trade scenario where he is dealt back to the National League to allow him to pitch to some lesser lineups and improve on his career numbers.

He will hit 200 innings and we will all rejoice. He will not walk many and strikeout a few. He will keep the ball in the ball park and give his team a chance. But the end is coming. 200 innings for 16 years straight? That has got to do something to a man’s body. If he does get two more starts he has a shot at 200 wins for the career. He won’t get that second start and that is what will propel him into the off-season. The chance at 200 and even an outside shot of the Hall of Fame…ok well 200 wins is pretty good too.

Game 4: Chris Young (12-9, 3.65 ERA) vs TBD

Chris Young has had a revival of sorts since he joined the Mariners. He was very good with San Diego then got hurt and got sucky in New York but now is a very viable 5th starter option going forward. If the Blue Jays have any hope of winning a game in this series this would be the one. Not only is Young getting up there in innings pitched but his last start against Houston yielded 7 earned runs in 3 innings? Is this the start of a decline?

If the playoffs truly are in the cards for the Mariners then Young should prepare for pitching perhaps long relief out of the bullpen. Perhaps be that starter that picks up after a horrid start from one of the other four. At 6’10” he has presence and that could be a great intangible to have facing some of the more diminutive batters going up to face him.

For the Jays it’s TBD. I say it will be Aaron Sanchez but I could be wrong. Who do you think should be taking the mound for this game? Put your answers in the comments below.

Probable Starting Lineups

Seattle Mariners

1. Austin Jackson – CF
2. Dustin Ackley – LF
3. Robinson Cano – 2B
4. Kyle Seager – 3B
5. Kendrys Morales – DH
6. Logan Morrison – 1B
7. Michael Saunders – RF
8. Mike Zunino – C
9. Brad Miller – SS

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Jose Reyes – SS
2. Jose Bautista – RF
3. Edwin Encarnacion – DH
4. Dioner Navarro – C
5. Danny Valencia – 3B
6. John Mayberry – 1B
7. Dalton Pompey – CF
8. Steven Tolleson – 2B
9. Kevin Pillar – LF

Worth the Price of Admission: Jose Bautista. He seems to be the only one who is doing anything of consequence this late in the season. He is the leader and this year just proved it again.

Worth the Price of a Ride With Honky the Horn Playing Cab Driver: Ryan Goins. Sorry I can’t take it anymore. Sure hands are one thing. a batting average the same as my grade 9 weight is something else.