Blue Jays series preview: King Felix awaits

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Jul 17, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Drew Hutchison (36) delivers a pitch against Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1: Friday, July 24  –  10:10 ET
Drew Hutchison (9-2, 5.19 ERA)  vs.  Felix Hernandez (11-5, 2.77 ERA)

Hutchison had his start pushed back in the order due to flu-like symptoms, so his endurance will be worth monitoring through the middle innings. He allowed just two earned runs over six innings in his last start at home, but of course, we need to see Hutchison do it on the road. The continued success of his changeup will be critical.

For the Mariners, they roll out their reliable ace whose season has been a string of dominant outing peppered with the odd blow-up. Combining his last four starts since June 28th, though, the right-hander has allowed just three earned runs over those 26.0 innings.

Game 2: Saturday, July 25  –  4:10 ET
Marco Estrada (7-5, 3.22 ERA)  vs.  J.A. Happ (4-5, 4.12 ERA)

Estrada seems to be back in another groove with his changeup dominating opposing hitters. He threw 8.0 innings of 3-hit shutout ball in his last outing, and should be well rested to chase a similar result on Saturday. He’s come out of nowhere to hold the lowest ERA in Toronto’s starting rotation, but we’ll take it.

Also on Jays Journal: Prospect updates on Pompey and Alford

Happ, the ex-Jay, presents an immediately favourable scenario as a left-handed pitcher against a righty-heavy lineup. Happ now owns a 1.34 WHIP and has allowed three earned runs or more in each of his past four starts, but has done well to keep any of his recent starts from getting out of hand.

Game 3: Sunday, July 26  –  4:10 ET
Mark Buehrle (11-5, 3.23)  vs.  Taijuan Walker (7-7, 5.06 ERA)

The finale sees the hot veteran face the struggling youngster. Buehrle has emerged as the clear-cut ace of this rotation, allowing two earned runs or less in each of his last nine starts. Over that time, Buehrle has failed to complete seven innings just once. This has been critical for a bullpen seeking answers outside of Roberto Osuna.

The 22-year old Walker has endured some hot and cold streaks throughout the year, but thankfully, he seems to be stuck in a funk at the moment. His last three starts have seen Walker allow 16 earned runs over 15.1 innings while allowing 20 hits. He hasn’t run into much trouble with walks, however, and remains gifted with raw talent.

Next: Blue Jays reportedly targeting Samardzija. Again.

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