The Blue Jays enter the series 18-18, 4.5 back of the Baltimore Orioles
The Toronto Blue Jays return to Texas for the first time since they took games three and four in last season’s ALDS. Toronto dropped the first two games of the series in Toronto, giving the Rangers the opportunity to win the series at home, but the Jays battled back won the series in memorable fashion in game five.
While it’s a new season with new storylines, that result won’t leave a good taste in the mouth of both the fans and players of the Rangers. To add insult to injury, the Jays won their first series earlier this year that included back-to-back walk off victories and their finest offensive onslaught of the young season. At the very least, those circumstances should make for a competitive and tension-filled series.
The Jays have three favourable matchups this weekend, with two lefties and a less-than-stellar Colby Lewis on the mound; however, it feels like this is becoming a common theme for the Jays offence. The offence is clearly still sputtering despite the signs of breaking out, but they can’t seem to get on a roll against pitchers who match up well against them.
Jake Peavy and Matt Cain looked like two of these matchups, as both veterans are shadows of their former selves and mightily struggling to put together solid starts. Peavy’s start wasn’t great by any means, but the Jays only got three runs off a guy who was clearly struggling with his command and raw stuff.
With five walks through five innings pitched, he was let off the hook by the Jays bats. In the next game, Cain put together his best start of the year. They won both games, but there’s no questioning that it was due to the performance of their rotation as Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ threw gems to carry the team.
Despite the fact that Martin Perez and Colby Lewis look like good matchups for the Jays on paper, they both chucked well against the Jays in the series earlier this year. They’re both off to decent starts to the season, though the bottom line on them is that they’re capable, steady starters, but don’t offer a whole lot more than that.
But, you can’t be too negative about where the team is at right now. Yes, their offence is still looking like average at best, but I still believe that time will show us that this is one of the best offences in the entire league.
Their rotation has been downright phenomenal, arguably being the best in the American League. Among AL teams, they’re 2nd in WAR, 1st with a 3.13 ERA (next best is 3.45), and 4th with a 3.77 FIP. The strikeouts haven’t been high from the group (6.91 K/9), but they’ve done an excellent job limiting free passes, getting the ball on the ground and managing the home run ball.
It’s been a treat to watch them pitch, but with those kind of numbers from a staff that had question marks coming into the year, you would have thought the Jays would be off to a fantastic start, which is why .500 seems very unsatisfying.
Let’s hope they can break out offensively in the yard where they broke out of the postseason slumber in October. Up first, a look across the diamond at the Rangers’ offence…
Next: Odor and Mazara lead the Rangers offence