Blue Jays face tall challenge in Kansas City Royals

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Jul 28, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) stands in the dugout prior to a game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1:  Thursday, July 30th  –  7:07 ET
Marco Estrada (7-6, 3.55)  vs.  Danny Duffy (4-4, 4.03)

Estrada slammed into a wall during his last start, allowing five earned runs on eight hits in Seattle, but he’s done enough over the past two months to earn the odd dud. His start prior saw him pitch eight shutout innings with just three hits and zero walks, so if the changeup is clicking against the Royals, Estrada should be able to work deep.

Duffy is coming off a string of four quality starts in a row and looked very strong in his most recent outing against the Houston Astros. The left-hander will present a favourable matchup for Toronto’s righty-heavy lineup, but patience may be their best approach. Duffy has issued three or more walks in four of his last ten starts, and has recorded five stikeouts just twice over that span.

Game 2: Friday, July 31st  –  7:07 ET
Drew Hutchison (9-2, 5.42)  vs.  Johnny Cueto (7-6, 2.62)

What could go wrong? Cueto will make his Royals debut after coming over in a trade deadline deal, but don’t sleep on the fantastic “home” half of Drew Hutchison’s ridiculous splits. Hutchison is 4-0 in his last four home starts, and creating some more downward movement on his struggling slider may be the key to unlocking his still-existent potential. With an improving bullpen, all the Blue Jays need is six strong. Hutchison has done that twice in his last ten starts. Gulp.

Cueto is coming off one of his finer outings of the season, chucking eight innings of shutout ball against the Colorado Rockies, allowing just four hits and a walk. Simply put, this is one of the better starting options in baseball, and the Jays won’t be able to bludgeon their way through this. Time to take the runs that present themselves and play strong all-around ball.

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