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

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Apr 22, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis (29) throws over Baltimore Orioles second baseman Ryan Flaherty (3) during the ninth inning in a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Series Predictions:

Game 1:  Toronto Blue Jays

Drew Smyly is a very talented pitcher, and one that I love to watch throw, but I like the Blue Jays chances of hitting the lefty in his first taste of the big leagues in 2015.  His rehab outings have been going well, but with a pitch count likely to be in place, Toronto should approach the plate with patience and get the benefit of some hitter’s counts.

The Jays’ chances will, of course, increase if Jose Bautista is able to return to the game, but the right-handed bats in their lineup should match up nicely.  Edwin Encarnacion is due to wake up, and the scorching-hot Josh Donaldson is 4-for-6 lifetime against Smyly with a home run.

Game 2:  Toronto Blue Jays

This game should be the tipping point of the series, but I trust Daniel Norris to bounce back.  While I’m not expecting a complete game shutout, 6.0-7.0 innings with 2-3 earned runs would be a great rebound.  Now that the awe of the Major Leagues has hopefully dulled to a quiet roar for Norris, he can attack the zone early and often with confidence.

We’ll have a better image of this game when Tampas’s starter is confirmed, but given that it’s not Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi, the Blue Jays should be relieved.  This will be a valuable opportunity to weaken the bullpen reinforcements before facing Chris Archer on Sunday.

Game 3:  Tampa Bay Rays

Yes, there will be times that we must pick against the Blue Jays!  After the outing that Chris Archer had in the first matchup, a lot would need to change this time around.  Toronto has struggled with hitting the wall against dominant, front-end pitching in the past, but there’s no time like the present to change course!

If they’re able to crack Archer, Dickey seems to be a small adjustment away from giving the Jays a quality deep outing.  If he does, we can crank up the talk about the benefit’s of having Josh Thole as his personal catcher again.  Can’t wait!

Next: Michael Saunders expected to return Friday

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