Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays preview: The search for answers heads to Minnesota

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May 17, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) hits a two run home run against Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
May 17, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) hits a two run home run against Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Blue Jays are coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays

There’s never been a better time for a trip to Minnesota.

The Toronto Blue Jays are coming off five straight losses and were just swept by the Tampa Bay Rays at home, losing those three games by a combined score of 31-7.

After Toronto’s starting pitching carried them throughout some early-season struggles, a string of difficult outings from J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman, and R.A. Dickey left the bats and bullpen unable to carry their share of the load.

Thankfully, the Twins represent the softest possible landing spot as their 10-29 record ties them for the worst in baseball with the Atlanta Braves.

“The Twins are in complete disarray,” said Michael McKee of Puckett’s pond. “Every facet of their game is faulty. They’ve optioned some of their best defenders and pretty much their entire outfield back to AAA because they couldn’t hit (Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario). If the Jays can put the ball in play regularly, the Twins’ defense will frequently give them a helping hand.”

As a team, Minnesota ranks 28th in the league with 141 runs scored, better than only the Philadelphia Phillies and Braves. Their team average sits at .237, putting them slightly ahead of Toronto.

Minnesota’s pitching staff has struggled greatly, with a 4.98 ERA that puts them second-worst in baseball ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. Opponents have hit .282 against the Twins pitchers, the highest mark in the MLB.

Across the Diamond: Minnesota Twins

Miguel Sano entered 2016 with lofty power expectations, but has yet to hit his stride. The 23-year-old Dominican slugger posted 18 home runs with a .918 OPS in 90 games last season, but is hitting just .232 (.756 OPS) with seven home runs.

The usual suspects of Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier are falling behind their expected production levels, too. Mauer’s power numbers have fallen off significantly, but his on-base percentage remains an excellent tool. With 26 walks compared to 25 strikeouts, Mauer has worked a .383 on-base percentage. The second baseman Dozier is hitting just .214.

Eduardo Nunez has been a bright spot with his .340 average and seven stolen bases. Korean rookie Byung-ho Park has been very strong, too, leading the Twins with nine home runs and an .869 OPS.

Now to the pitching matchups, where the Blue Jays hold an advantage on paper.

Next: Estrada opens against the former near-Jay

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