Toronto Blue Jays series preview: Key battle with Red Sox


Following the Toronto Blue Jays’ series with one division rival in the New York Yankees, another will roll in to town on Friday in the Boston Red Sox.  If you’re able to make it to the Rogers Centre for this series, bring your ball glove.  The Blue Jays and Red Sox enter with the two highest starting rotation ERA’s in all of baseball, with R.A. Dickey‘s 4.38 being the lowest ERA from a starter scheduled to appear.

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Along with Dickey, the Blue Jays will send Aaron Sanchez and Drew Hutchison to the mound to face Wade Miley, Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz.  Boston was recently swept by the New York Yankees at home, and continue to hover around the .500 mark due to their rotation struggles.  Sound familiar, anyone?

Game 1:  Friday, May 8th, 7:07 ET

Aaron Sanchez takes the mound for game one of the Red Sox series looking to find some clarity.  Sanchez has allowed 20 walks through 25.1 innings pitched, and will need to pound the strike zone with a greater confidence that his raw stuff can survive against MLB hitters.  The young righty has walk totals of six, two and seven in his past three outings, but perhaps the recent demotion of Daniel Norris will serve as a wakeup call.

Wade Miley counters for Boston, and his 7.15 ERA suggests that he’s had a few struggles of his own.  Despite lasting just 2.1 innings in two of his past four outings, however, he did seem to turn a corner last week as he completed 7.0 innings strong.  Expect Miley’s fastball to top out around 92 MPH with a slider and changeup to compliment late in counts.

Game 2:  Saturday, May 9th, 1:07 ET

The Saturday matinee will see Drew Hutchison put his undefeated 2-0 record on the line…  Somehow.  Hutchison has seen his ERA balloon to an ugly 7.47 as he continues to struggle, allowing six earned runs in each of his last two starts.  His April 23rd start against the Baltimore Orioles was a sign of hope, so the Blue Jays will be looking for the pendulum to swing back in that direction.  For Hutchison, it’s all about throwing strikes early and getting zip on his slider.

Joe Kelly will take the mound for Boston with a 5.72 ERA.  The 26-year old has allowed five earned runs in each of his last three starts, but an impressive K:BB ratio could suggest that he is due to break out.  Kelly will throw in the high-90s quite comfortably to set up his offspeed pitches, so the Blue Jays will need to be on their toes early in counts.

May 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays opening pitcher R.A. Dickey pitches in first inning against New York Yankees at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Game 3:  Sunday, May 10th, 1:07 ET

The second of two matinees this weekend sees R.A. Dickey take the ball as he looks to follow up on an impressive outing against the Yankees.  Although Dickey has struggled with walks and inconsistency, he remains the Blue Jays most reliable source of 6.0 innings or more from a starter.  Even if the knuckleball is off, the Blue Jays should remain within striking distance deep into the finale.

Clay Buchholz has recorded an impressive 40 strikeouts through 31.1 innings pitched, but has also swung through some highs and lows in the young season.  His most recent outing against the Jays on April 28th saw him allow four runs on six hits in just 2.2 innings.  As long as the Jays hitters don’t get trigger-happy at the plate with this strikeout artist, they should be able to repeat that game plan with success.

Player to watch:  Steve Delabar

Delabar made his return to the Major Leagues this past Tuesday with a scoreless inning against the Yankees, and looked to take a step towards the 2013 version of himself.  Delabar was hitting the mid-90s with accuracy on his fastball, which is absolutely critical for setting up his devastating splitter.  If Delabar can show any level of consistency, the door is wide open for him in the late innings.

Miguel Castro has been sent to AAA Buffalo while Roberto Osuna may continue to have his greatest value in the late sixth or seventh innings, keeping games tight in high-leverage situations.  This would be enabled by a dominant Delabar in a late-innings role.  He’ll need to show much more before being handed the job, but with the current state of the Blue Jays pitching staff, he’s got a fighting chance.  The Red Sox series will be a pivotal showcase for him.

Next: What's next for Miguel Castro?

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