Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays Series Preview: Igniting the rivalry with the Orioles

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May 12, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) celebrates with designated hitter Jose Bautista (19) after hitting a home run in the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles after at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) celebrates with designated hitter Jose Bautista (19) after hitting a home run in the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles after at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Game 1: April 19 – 7:05 ET @ Camden Yards

Marcus Stroman (2-0, 4.22 ERA, 3.58 FIP) vs.
Mike Wright (1-0, 7.20 ERA, 5.91 FIP)

Stroman’s 5.06 K/9 is underwhelming thus far, but his success so far this season has been built on a very high ground ball rate of 65.2%, a hard contact rate of 26.9%, and a strong 2.53 BB/9. He hasn’t garnered the amount of swing and misses he’s capable of yet so far this year, but he’s been extremely efficient, and outside of one poor inning against the Red Sox he’s been fantastic.

Stroman has been heavily reliant on his sinker, throwing it 56.76% of the time. This reliance has been the biggest factor in the strikeout for ground ball tradeoff. He’s continued to mix in his five other pitchers, although he’s barely thrown the four-seam. However, he’s mixed in a cutter 10.14%, the curve 5.41%, the slider 13.51% and the changeup 9.80% of the time.

I’d like to see him go to his off-speed stuff a little bit more in this outing. His sinker is great, but against a team that’s rolling you can’t fall into a pattern or rely too heavily on one pitch. He’s getting a career high whiff rate on both his changeup and slider (17.24% and 20.00%), and getting a strong number on his curve as well (12.50%). He can go to those pitches more often, which will lead to a better chance of keeping opposing hitters off balance.

Another adjustment he can look at making is using his four-seam up in the zone more often when there is two strikes on the batter. He has the ability and command to do so effectively up in the zone, but we haven’t seen much of that this season.

Wright is coming off a start in in Boston that saw him go 5 innings while giving up 5 H, 1 BB and 4 ER. Last season, in 44.2 IP, he posted a 5.24 K/9, 3.63 BB/9, and a 1.81 HR/9, leading to a 6.03 ERA and a 6.13 FIP. Underwhelming numbers, and he definitely has the profile of a pitcher the Jays should feast on.

He offers a four-seam fastball that sits in the 93-95 range, and mixes in both a slider and changeup, but he relies fairly heavily on his four-seam, throwing it 66.67% in his one start this year, and 55.88% last year.

He started against the Jays twice in last year’s campaign, going a combined 5.1 IP while giving up 7 ER. Meanwhile, Stroman diced the Orioles in the aforementioned AL East clinching game in September, putting a line of: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. The Jays most definitely have the upper hand in this pitching matchup.

Next: Game 2: Can Dickey rebound in Baltimore?

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