Series Preview: Blue Jays hope to wrap up winning record at expense of Orioles


The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays season is literally down to its last legs, as the Blue Jays look to put the wraps on another mediocre season with a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles this weekend. However, there are still a few things left to see before the fork is officially stuck in the Blue Jays and the players get put out to the golf courses for the winter.

Namely, it will be interesting to see if any of the bad blood from last week’s series with the Orioles spills over to the season’s final series. Set off, purportedly, by Caleb Joseph stepping on Jose Reyes’ hand and then set ablaze when Marcus Stroman threw behind Joseph’s head later in the game, this still feels like an open wound of sorts. That said, Stroman will return from his 5-game suspension on Friday night, but will only be available out of the bullpen if called upon.

Outside of any fireworks between the two teams, this is definitely a tale of two squads playing for two different things. For the Orioles, they will be expected to be lining up their rotation, but no one expects the likes of Chris Tillman or Wei-Yin Chen to work deep into any ballgames, as these starts are really nothing more than live bullpen sessions for them. Additionally, we can expect to see the line-up fluctuate drastically, as some of the players on the expanded rosters get their shots with veteran Orioles getting more rest for the postseason.

For the Blue Jays, they are playing for pride and the future. With 81 wins to date, the Blue Jays are already guaranteed to avoid a losing record. However, one additional win, just one, will give them their first winning season since racking up 85 victories in 2010. To do that though, they’ll have to balance the usage of their rookies and key bench players who are trying to find a home with the big league club next season, or even trying to remain with the team after this year.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Chris Tillman (13-5, 3.26 ERA) vs Drew Hutchison (10-13, 4.51 ERA)

Game 2: Wei-Yin Chen (16-5, 3.56 ERA) vs J.A. Happ (10-11, 4.27 ERA)

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Game 3: TBD vs R.A. Dickey (14-12, 3.78 ERA)

While a bit inconsistent, the 2014 season can actually be marked down as a success for Drew Hutchison, who made his way back from 2012 Tommy John surgery to make all of his scheduled starts in 2014. There were certainly some performances that were just dogs, but there were also some pretty solid flashes of brilliance for the young right-hander.

J.A. Happ is a bit of a different story. While we know that Hutch will return in 2014, we can’t be as certain with Happ, who was equally inconsistent. That’s because the Blue Jays hold an option on Happ for the 2015 season, and quite frankly, it may be better to use those funds toward shoring up other areas of need, especially with young arms Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris likely competing for a spot in the rotation next season. That said, a strong final start from Happ could be enough for the Blue Jays to take the safety net and exercise the option for depth alone.

The final game of the season will feature R.A. Dickey, who will be ma

Probable Starting Lineups

Baltimore Orioles

1. Nick Markakis – RF
2. Alejandro De Aza – LF
3. Adam Jones – CF
4. Nelson Cruz – DH
5. Stephen Pearce – 1B
6. J.J. Hardy – SS
7. Kelly Johnson – 2B
8. Jimmy Paredes/Ryan Flaherty – 3B
9. Caleb Joseph/Nick Hundley

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: Dalton Pompey. The young Blue Jays center fielder will be on showcase during this series, trying to leave one last impression in regards to starting 2015 with the big club. It has been a bit up and down of late, but increased playing time has started to pay some dividends for the Pompey and the Blue Jays.

Worth the Price of a bus pants: Kelly Johnson finishes this season having now played on all five of the American League East rosters. He’s here now because of the injury to Manny Machado and the lack of a viable alternative, but he’s still, well, Kelly Johnson.