Blue Jays series preview: Can Toronto answer the pitching of the Rays?

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Apr 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Daniel Norris (32) throws a pitch during the first inning in a game against the Atlanta Braves at Rogers Centre. The Atlanta Braves won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Game two will see Daniel Norris looking for a bounce back start after some early struggles have brought the dreaded “dead arm” conversation to the forefront in Toronto.  Norris’ first two outings against the Yankees and Rays were OK, but he was rocked by the Atlanta Braves on the 19th, allowing 6 hits and 4 earned runs over just 2.2 innings pitched.

These are the outings that the Blue Jays cannot afford to have, as it eats into a bullpen that is already under question from many outside the organization.  While Norris’ velocity still isn’t showing at the levels it did during his fast rise last season, it’s his control and approach on the mound that are cause for worry.

Norris, like several Jays pitchers, is guilty of nibbling.  Instead of attacking hitters in 0-1 or 1-1 counts, Norris has been flirting with the edges of the strike zone, and never truly trusting his stuff to get the job done over the plate.  This leads to hugely inflated pitch counts, and shows the opposing hitters his entire arsenal before their second trip to the plate.

Tampa Bay has yet to announce a surefire starter for their Saturday matchup as their rotation struggles with health and performance from the 5th spot.  Erasmo Ramirez got a kick at the can against the Blue Jays on April 16th, but ended up getting his own can kicked and has now allowed 16 earned runs through 6.1 innings pitched.  Gulp.  We’ll keep you updated on the Saturday starter, but it may be another opportunity for the Blue Jays offensively.

Next: Game 3 preview: Buehrle vs. Archer